Internationalization support is controlled by the
LC_xxx environment variables. You can set all of them
but Cygwin itself only honors the variables
LANG, in this order, according
to the POSIX standard. The content of these variables should follow the
POSIX standard for a locale specifier. The correct form of a locale
"language" is a lowercase two character string per ISO 639-1, or, if there is no ISO 639-1 code for the language (for instance, "Lower Sorbian"), a three character string per ISO 639-3.
"TERRITORY" is an uppercase two character string per ISO 3166, charset is one of a list of supported character sets. The modifier doesn't matter here (though some are recognized, see below). If you're interested in the exact description, you can find it in the online publication of the POSIX manual pages on the homepage of the Open Group.
Typical locale specifiers are
"de_CH" language = German, territory = Switzerland, default charset "fr_FR.UTF-8" language = french, territory = France, charset = UTF-8 "ko_KR.eucKR" language = korean, territory = South Korea, charset = eucKR "syr_SY" language = Syriac, territory = Syria, default charset
If the locale specifier does not follow the above form, Cygwin checks
if the locale is one of the locale aliases defined in the file
/usr/share/locale/locale.alias. If so, and if
the replacement localename is supported by the underlying Windows,
the locale is accepted, too. So, given the default content of the
/usr/share/locale/locale.alias file, the below
examples would be valid locale specifiers as well.
"catalan" defined as "ca_ES.ISO-8859-1" in locale.alias "japanese" defined as "ja_JP.eucJP" in locale.alias "turkish" defined as "tr_TR.ISO-8859-9" in locale.alias
provided by the gettext package under Cygwin.
At application startup, the application's locale is set to the default "C" or "POSIX" locale. Under Cygwin 1.7.2 and later, this locale defaults to the ASCII character set on the application level. If you want to stick to the "C" locale and only change to another charset, you can define this by setting one of the locale environment variables to "C.charset". For instance
The default locale in the absence of the aforementioned locale environment variables is "C.UTF-8".
Windows uses the UTF-16 charset exclusively to store the names
of any object used by the Operating System. This is especially important
with filenames. Cygwin uses the setting of the locale environment variables
determine how to convert Windows filenames from their UTF-16 representation
to the singlebyte or multibyte character set used by Cygwin.
The setting of the locale environment variables at process startup is effective for Cygwin's internal conversions to and from the Windows UTF-16 object names for the entire lifetime of the current process. Changing the environment variables to another value changes the way filenames are converted in subsequently started child processes, but not within the same process.
However, even if one of the locale environment variables is set to some other value than "C", this does only affect how Cygwin itself converts filenames. As the POSIX standard requires, it's the application's responsibility to activate that locale for its own purposes, typically by using the call
setlocale (LC_ALL, "");
early in the application code. Again, so that this doesn't get lost: If the application calls setlocale as above, and there is none of the important locale variables set in the environment, the locale is set to the default locale, which is "C.UTF-8".
But what about applications which are not locale-aware? Per POSIX, they are running in the "C" or "POSIX" locale, which implies the ASCII charset. The Cygwin DLL itself, however, will nevertheless use the locale set in the environment (or the "C.UTF-8" default locale) for converting filenames etc.
When the locale in the environment specifies an ASCII charset, for example "C" or "en_US.ASCII", Cygwin will still use UTF-8 under the hood to translate filenames. This allows for easier interoperability with applications running in the default "C.UTF-8" locale.
Starting with Cygwin 1.7.2, the language and territory are used to
fetch locale-dependent information from Windows. If the language and
territory are not known to Windows, the
The following modifiers are recognized. Any other modifier is simply ignored for now.
For locales which use the Euro (EUR) as currency, the modifier "@euro" can be added to enforce usage of the ISO-8859-15 character set, which includes a character for the "Euro" currency sign.
The default script used for all Serbian language locales (sr_BA, sr_ME, sr_RS, and the deprecated sr_CS and sr_SP) is cyrillic. With the "@latin" modifier it gets switched to the latin script with the respective collation behaviour.
The default charset of the "be_BY" locale (Belarusian/Belarus) is CP1251. With the "@latin" modifier it's UTF-8.
The default charset of the "tt_RU" locale (Tatar/Russia) is ISO-8859-5. With the "@iqtelif" modifier it's UTF-8.
The default charset of the "uz_UZ" locale (Uzbek/Uzbekistan) is ISO-8859-1. With the "@cyrillic" modifier it's UTF-8.
There's a class of characters in the Unicode character set, called the "CJK Ambiguous Width" characters. For these characters, the width returned by the wcwidth/wcswidth functions is usually 1. This can be a problem with East-Asian languages, which historically use character sets where these characters have a width of 2. Therefore, wcwidth/wcswidth return 2 as the width of these characters when an East-Asian charset such as GBK or SJIS is selected, or when UTF-8 is selected and the language is specified as "zh" (Chinese), "ja" (Japanese), or "ko" (Korean). This is not correct in all circumstances, hence the locale modifier "@cjknarrow" can be used to force wcwidth/wcswidth to return 1 for the ambiguous width characters.
Assume that you've set one of the aforementioned environment variables to some
valid POSIX locale value, other than "C" and "POSIX". Assume further that
you're living in Japan. You might want to use the language code "ja" and the
territory "JP", thus setting, say,
LANG to "ja_JP". You didn't
set a character set, so what will Cygwin use now? Starting with Cygwin 1.7.2,
the default character set is determined by the default Windows ANSI codepage
for this language and territory. Cygwin uses a character set which is the
typical Unix-equivalent to the Windows ANSI codepage. For instance:
"en_US" ISO-8859-1 "el_GR" ISO-8859-7 "pl_PL" ISO-8859-2 "pl_PL@euro" ISO-8859-15 "ja_JP" EUCJP "ko_KR" EUCKR "te_IN" UTF-8
You don't want to use the default character set? In that case you have to
specify the charset explicitly. For instance, assume you're from Japan and
don't want to use the japanese default charset EUC-JP, but the Windows
default charset SJIS. What you can do, for instance, is to set the
LANG variable in the mintty Cygwin Terminal
in the "Text" section of its "Options" dialog. If you're starting your
Cygwin session via a batch file or a shortcut to a batch file, you can also
just set LANG there:
@echo off C: chdir C:\cygwin\bin set LANG=ja_JP.SJIS bash --login -i
For a list of locales supported by your Windows machine, use the new locale -a command, which is part of the Cygwin package. For a description see locale(1)
For a list of supported character sets, see the section called “List of supported character sets”
Last, but not least, most singlebyte or doublebyte charsets have a big disadvantage. Windows filesystems use the Unicode character set in the UTF-16 encoding to store filename information. Not all characters from the Unicode character set are available in a singlebyte or doublebyte charset. While Cygwin has a workaround to access files with unusual characters (see the section called “Filenames with unusual (foreign) characters”), a better workaround is to use always the UTF-8 character set.
UTF-8 is the only multibyte character set which can represent every Unicode character.
For a description of the Unicode standard, see the homepage of the Unicode Consortium.
Sometimes the Windows console is used to run Cygwin applications. While terminal emulations like the Cygwin Terminal mintty or xterm have a distinct way to set the character set used for in- and output, the Windows console hasn't such a way, since it's not an application in its own right.
This problem is solved in Cygwin as follows. When a Cygwin
process is started in a Windows console (either explicitly from cmd.exe,
or implicitly by, for instance, running the
C:\cygwin\Cygwin.bat batch file), the Console character
set is determined by the setting of the aforementioned
internationalization environment variables, the same way as described in
the section called “How to set the locale”.
What is that good for? Why not switch the console character set with
the applications requirements? After all, the application knows if it uses
localization or not. However, what if a non-localized application calls
a remote application which itself is localized? This can happen with
ssh or rlogin. Both commands don't
have and don't need localization and they never call
setlocale. Setting one of the internationalization
environment variable to the same charset as the remote machine before
starting ssh or rlogin fixes that
You can set the above internationalization variables not only when starting the first Cygwin process, but also in your Cygwin shell on the fly, even switch to yet another character set, and yet another. In bash for instance:
However, here's a problem. At the start of the first Cygwin process in a session, the Windows environment is converted from UTF-16 to UTF-8. The environment is another of the system objects stored in UTF-16 in Windows.
As long as the environment only contains ASCII characters, this is
no problem at all. But if it contains native characters, and you're planning
to use, say, GBK, the environment will result in invalid characters in
the GBK charset. This would be especially a problem in variables like
PATH. To circumvent the worst problems, Cygwin converts
PATH environment variable to the charset set in the
environment, if it's different from the UTF-8 charset.
Per POSIX, the name of an environment variable should only consist of valid ASCII characters, and only of uppercase letters, digits, and the underscore for maximum portability.
Symbolic links, too, may pose a problem when switching charsets on
the fly. A symbolic link contains the filename of the target file the
symlink points to. When a symlink had been created with older versions
of Cygwin, the current ANSI or OEM character set had been used to store
the target filename, dependent on the old
environment variable setting
codepage (see the section called “Obsolete options”. If the target filename
contains non-ASCII characters and you use another character set than
your default ANSI/OEM charset, the target filename of the symlink is now
potentially an invalid character sequence in the new character set.
This behaviour is not different from the behaviour in other Operating
Systems. So, if you suddenly can't access a symlink anymore which
worked all these years before, maybe it's because you switched to
another character set. This doesn't occur with symlinks created with
Cygwin 1.7 or later.
Another problem you might encounter is that older versions of Windows did not install all charsets by default. If you are running Windows XP or older, you can open the "Regional and Language Options" portion of the Control Panel, select the "Advanced" tab, and select entries from the "Code page conversion tables" list. The following entries are useful to cygwin: 932/SJIS, 936/GBK, 949/EUC-KR, 950/Big5, 20932/EUC-JP.
Last but not least, here's the list of currently supported character
sets. The left-hand expression is the name of the charset, as you would use
it in the internationalization environment variables as outlined above.
Note that charset specifiers are case-insensitive.
is equivalent to
Writing the charset in the exact case as given in the list below is a
good convention, though.
The right-hand side is the number of the equivalent Windows codepage as well as the Windows name of the codepage. They are only noted here for reference. Don't try to use the bare codepage number or the Windows name of the codepage as charset in locale specifiers, unless they happen to be identical with the left-hand side. Especially in case of the "CPxxx" style charsets, always use them with the trailing "CP".
This does not work:
You can find a full list of Windows codepages on the Microsoft MSDN page Code Page Identifiers.
Charset Codepage ------------------- ------------------------------------------- ASCII 20127 (US_ASCII) CP437 437 (OEM United States) CP720 720 (DOS Arabic) CP737 737 (OEM Greek) CP775 775 (OEM Baltic) CP850 850 (OEM Latin 1, Western European) CP852 852 (OEM Latin 2, Central European) CP855 855 (OEM Cyrillic) CP857 857 (OEM Turkish) CP858 858 (OEM Latin 1 + Euro Symbol) CP862 862 (OEM Hebrew) CP866 866 (OEM Russian) CP874 874 (ANSI/OEM Thai) CP932 932 (Shift_JIS, not exactly identical to SJIS) CP1125 1125 (OEM Ukraine) CP1250 1250 (ANSI Central European) CP1251 1251 (ANSI Cyrillic) CP1252 1252 (ANSI Latin 1, Western European) CP1253 1253 (ANSI Greek) CP1254 1254 (ANSI Turkish) CP1255 1255 (ANSI Hebrew) CP1256 1256 (ANSI Arabic) CP1257 1257 (ANSI Baltic) CP1258 1258 (ANSI/OEM Vietnamese) ISO-8859-1 28591 (ISO-8859-1) ISO-8859-2 28592 (ISO-8859-2) ISO-8859-3 28593 (ISO-8859-3) ISO-8859-4 28594 (ISO-8859-4) ISO-8859-5 28595 (ISO-8859-5) ISO-8859-6 28596 (ISO-8859-6) ISO-8859-7 28597 (ISO-8859-7) ISO-8859-8 28598 (ISO-8859-8) ISO-8859-9 28599 (ISO-8859-9) ISO-8859-10 - (not available) ISO-8859-11 - (not available) ISO-8859-13 28603 (ISO-8859-13) ISO-8859-14 - (not available) ISO-8859-15 28605 (ISO-8859-15) ISO-8859-16 - (not available) Big5 950 (ANSI/OEM Traditional Chinese) EUCCN or euc-CN 936 (ANSI/OEM Simplified Chinese) EUCJP or euc-JP 20932 (EUC Japanese) EUCKR or euc-KR 949 (EUC Korean) GB2312 936 (ANSI/OEM Simplified Chinese) GBK 936 (ANSI/OEM Simplified Chinese) GEORGIAN-PS - (not available) KOI8-R 20866 (KOI8-R Russian Cyrillic) KOI8-U 21866 (KOI8-U Ukrainian Cyrillic) PT154 - (not available) SJIS - (not available, almost, but not exactly CP932) TIS620 or TIS-620 874 (ANSI/OEM Thai) UTF-8 or utf8 65001 (UTF-8)