FreeBSD10 - changes with "Umlauts"?

Polytropon freebsd at
Thu Apr 24 17:48:59 UTC 2014

On Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:38:58 +0200, Ewald Jenisch wrote:
> Hi,
> After setting up a new system (FreeBSD10) I'm trying to get "Umlauts"
> to display correctly both on the console and under X11, including
> X11-clients.

I have successfully done that recently (FreeBSD 10 system
installed on a laptop).

> Over various FreeBSD releases I worked with the following configuration:
> /etc/ttys:
> console none                            cons25l1        off secure
> ttyv0   "/usr/libexec/getty Pc"         cons25l1        on  secure
> ...

This is correct. The default settings have now been changed
to "xterm". However, for console work, setting "cons25l1" is
still possible.

> In order to get the correct locale settings for users they have a
> setting like this in their 
> ~/.bash_profile:
> export LC_CTYPE=de_AT.ISO8859-15

Other options are de_AT.ISO8859-1 (the traditional setting,
does not include Euro currency sign which doesn't work on
the console display anyway) or de_AT.UTF-8 (which is usually
seen as today's standard). You need to experiment in which
combination those work with "xterm" or "cons25l1" for console
display. In X, there shouldn't be any problems as terminal
emulators set "xterm", and X applications do their own thing. :-)

> Just for completeness, here's what I got in
> /etc/rc.conf:
> keymap="german.iso.acc.kbd"

It's also possible to set


but don't forget to define the proper fonts:


Those contain Umlauts and Eszett.

> Status:
> 1) Umlauts *don't* work on the console

To be expected. The default font doesn't have them.

> 2) Umlauts work under X11 and clients (emacs, firefox,...)

To be expected. Those programs do not rely on the settings
discussed so far.

> 3) When accessing the box via ssh from "putty" with "UTF-8" set in 
>    putty:
>    small caps umlauts work
>    caps umlauts don't work 

Strange, but as soon as there's an "external terminal" involved,
things get more complicated.

I'm usually using the system's ssh client (instead of PuTTY) and
found that it works when remotely accessing a FreeBSD 10 system
from a FreeBSD 8 system (9 and 10 should also work). But again,
make sure that the font on the _remote_ display is set correctly
so you can see the characters received by the SSH client.

> I've also experimented with setting "LC_CTYPE=de_AT.UTF-8" but that
> only made matters worse

Welcome to the modern times of UTF-8. :-)

> So here are my questions:
> o) Has anything changed wrt umlaut characters from FreeBSD9 to FreeBSD10?

Not that I've noticed, except you need to change some defaults
and add some settings as described.

> o) Shouldn't setting "UTF-8" work with umlauts in all cases?

No. Basically, UTF-8 introduces "other umlauts", which means
instead of 1 byte, now 2 bytes are needed to encode an Umlaut.
This is for the representation of such a letter in a file.
Regarding the display, UTF-8 _should_ work if the font used
for displaying characters does have the correct symbols in
the expected places. If not, a "different representation"
(for example as hex codes or question marks) will be taken.
Within X, no problems should exist.

> o) Any ideas on how to get umlaut characters to work in every case, i.e.
>    -) console
>    -) X11
>    -) putty session (ssh)

See examples above.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list