Re: What's the locale for system files (e.g. /etc/fstab)?

From: Rodney W. Grimes <>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:19:03 UTC
> On 23 Mar 2022, at 11:51, Piotr Pawel Stefaniak wrote:
> > mount: make libxo support more locale-aware
> >
> >    "special", "node", and "mounter" are not guaranteed to be encoded 
> > with
> >    UTF-8. Use the appropriate modifier.
> >
> > -       xo_emit("{:special}{L: on }{:node}{L: (}{:fstype}", 
> > sfp->f_mntfromname,
> > +       xo_emit("{:special/%hs}{L: on }{:node/%hs}{L: (}{:fstype}", 
> > sfp->f_mntfromname,
>              sfp->f_mntonname, sfp->f_fstypename);
> This recent "mount" patch highlights a libxo-related problem for which I 
> don't have a solution:
> There are several files for which the encoding is not known.  Since 
> locale is user specific, we don't know how to interpret the contents of 
> /etc/fstab.  It's assumably been encoded with the format of the user who 
> wrote it, but that information is lost.

Since you say "locale is user specific" it makes me want to say that
this should come from the environment set by "default:" in /etc/login.conf,
no need for a new file or anything special.

> Put more generally, there's not a system-wide place which declares the 
> encoding for system files, which leads to this problem where we 
> interpret files from one user's locale using another user's locale.

Well /etc/login.conf *IS* a system wide declaration of this type of
stuff, both lang= and charset= are declared there.

> One solution would a symlink in /etc that "points to" the name of the 
> current system-wide locale name.
> % ls -Fl /etc/locale
> lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  7 Mar 23 15:42 /etc/locale@ -> C.UTF-8

grep lang /etc/login.conf:

Probably what you want?
> (Or "/etc/system.locale" ?)
> If the symlink doesn't exist, would "C.UTF-8" be a suitable default 
> moving forwards?  It certainly would not be backwards compatible, since 
> an existing fstab could have non-UTF-8 strings in it, encoded with the 
> locale of the user who touched the file.  But there's really no 
> backwards compatible solution, given that there's no guarantee that (for 
> any specific FreeBSD system) all system files were written with the same 
> locale.  Fun, eh? ;^)
> Opinions, thoughts, please?
> Thanks,
>   Phil

Rod Grimes