Re: Euro character in ISO

From: Frank da Cruz (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 17:09:20 EDT

> > I'm logged into unix right now:
> >
> > $ iconv
> > bash: iconv: command not found
> > $
> I said "function" not "command".
$ man -k iconv
$ cd /usr/lib
$ ls *iconv*
$ cd /usr/include
$ grep iconv *.h */*.h
There are lots of Unixes:

How many of them have an iconv function?

> Yes, there are probably lots of non-Unix systems that don't have it. How
> is that relevant in the behaviour of the Unix "mail" command.
It's relevant to the question of whose responsibility is it to translate
character sets. It's not easy to change all the MUAs on earth.

> > How does the mail client know what character set my terminal has?
> Because your locale is set appropriately.
How does my locale know what my terminal's character set is? Suppose I
have a German locale. My terminal character set could be (to list a few)
CP437, CP850, Latin-1, Latin-2, German ISO 646, CP1252, DEC Multinational,
Data General International, HP Roman8, Mac Roman, NeXT, etc etc.

> > Anyway, between you and me, there are potentially lots of places where
> > character-set conversion can occur. Your mail client, your MTA, my MTA,
> > my mail client, my Telnet server, my Telnet client, my terminal emulator.
> > Let's think carefully about this before we have random combinations of
> > these clients, agents, and servers stepping on each others' toes.
> The only place that is useful to do the translation in in this context is
> in the MUA. In the telnet bit is braindead, due to not being able to
> access the MIME-Type at that point.
I don't understand this sentence -- you mean the Telnet server should be
interpreting MIME types? I hope not! As far as character sets are
concerned, the telnetd should be a totally transparent pipe.

> And if a mailserver for whatever
> peverse reason decides to translate character sets, it should also change
> the MIME tag, otherwise is it Broken.
OK, but somebody else might decide it belongs in the Telnet protocol. Don't
laugh, there's an Internet draft about this, and it's a bad, bad, bad idea.

Anyway, let's assume that it's the responsibility of every MUA to convert
character sets to suit my terminal, and they are all modified to do this,
and it works. Then what about all the other host applications? Do they
have to be modified too?

- Frank

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