April 21, 2019

Red Hat 8.0: Past the Hype and Under the Hood - page 2

Evaluating Red Hat Beyond Uncle Ralph and Aunt Faye

  • November 4, 2002
  • By Carla Schroder

Red Hat, as usual, is out on the bleeding edge. The default installation is Unicode. All the docs, man pages, and default system character set are Unicode. This presents some interesting problems with apps that are not Unicode-aware.

Abiword and Gnumeric are my mainstays. Unfortunately, they do not speak Unicode. The screen fonts display oddly (see Figure 1). New distribution lesson #1: read the release notes, as they often contain the answers you seek. The fix turns out to be simple. First, start the offending app with

env LANG=C abiword

LANG=C sets the locale for abiword to the C locale. The 'C' locale is defined as the "default" locale for applications, meaning that their strings are displayed as written in the initial code, without passing through a translation lookup. Just good ole ASCII. Literally, 'LANG=C' turns off localization.

env LANG=en_US abiword
has a similar effect, though this is setting a specific locale, not turning locaization off. For other languages you'll need the country and language codes, so see ISO 3166 and ISO 639 for that information.

These commands can easily be added to the properties of the menu icons. Localization is a big topic for another day. For now, get used to transition pains from ASCII to Unicode. The goal of Unicode is to support multiple character sets, enabling reading and creating documents in all languages. RH8 uses UTF-8, which is the ASCII-compatible Unicode encoding.

Be sure to install all the languages you want during the initial installation, as there is no easy way to add them later. There is a slick little tool to change amongst the installed system languages after installation, redhat-config-language, or the System Settings, Language menu command. This changes the language for the whole system and all users.

Some other locale issues: KDE's man page viewer (man foo in Konsole) does not display man pages correctly. It does info pages just fine. This will be fixed, and meanwhile the GNOME viewer works fine, as do man pages displayed on the console. Use the locale command (see man locale) to see what is installed on your system.

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