[CentOS] Custom locale, LC_TYPE and urxvt

Mon Jan 21 17:18:41 UTC 2013
James B. Byrne <byrnejb at harte-lyne.ca>

I have a custom locale in use on our system.  Consequently, Xlib does
not recognize the default environment setting for LC_TYPE.  To get an
urxvt window opened without encountering the locale error message I am
therefore constrained to use some variant of the following:

LC_TYPE=en_US.UTF-8 urxvt&

I would like to set LC_TYPE to a different value than LANG.  However,
based on experiment it seems that the only locale setting in
/etc/sysconfig/i18n that CentOS-6.3 responds to is LANG.  I have
looked at /etc/profile.d/lang.sh but my knowledge of terminal settings
and system variables is insufficient to make much sense out of it.

if [ -n "$LANG" ]; then
    [ -f "$HOME/.i18n" ] && . "$HOME/.i18n" && sourced=1
    unset saved_lang
    for langfile in /etc/sysconfig/i18n "$HOME/.i18n" ; do
        [ -f $langfile ] && . $langfile && sourced=1

If I am not entirely mistaken, this code checks to see if $LANG is set
and saves it.  Presumably this is to preserve $LANG from being
overridden by the contents of ~/.i18n but it does not even seem to
check /etc/sysconfig/i18n in that case.  One might infer from this
treatment that this is because lang.sh expects that if $LANG is set
then /etc/sysconfig/i18n has already been processed.

Assuming that /etc/sysconfig/i18n is found then it processes the
following statement:

if [ "$sourced" = 1 ]; then
    [ -n "$LANG" ] && export LANG || unset LANG
    . . .
    [ -n "$LC_CTYPE" ] && export LC_CTYPE || unset LC_CTYPE
    .  .  .

Checking in ~/.bashrc I see this:

.  .  .
# Source global definitions
if [ -f /etc/bashrc ]; then
	. /etc/bashrc

And checking /etc/bashrc I see this:

.  .  .
    # Only display echos from profile.d scripts if we are no login shell
    # and interactive - otherwise just process them to set envvars
    for i in /etc/profile.d/*.sh; do
        if [ -r "$i" ]; then
            if [ "$PS1" ]; then
                . "$i"
                . "$i" >/dev/null 2>&1

    unset i
    unset pathmunge

However, when I look for the mate to that final 'fi' I find this:

.  .  .
if ! shopt -q login_shell ; then # We're not a login shell
    # Need to redefine pathmunge, it get's undefined at the end of
    pathmunge ()
.  .  .

Evidently /etc/profile.d/lang.sh only gets processed by /etc/bashrc if
I am NOT in a login shell.  The question then is: when does
/etc/profile.d/lang.sh get processed? Well, numerous places it seems:


Yet, despite all these calls to /etc/profile.d/lang.sh, whenever I
open a new session in gnome-terminal LC_LANG is never set but $LANG
is.  If However, I do . /etc/profile.d/lang.sh in that window session,
then LC_TYPE becomes set as I desire.

Either something is setting LANG and ignoring LC_TYPE in
/etc/sysconfig/i18n before lang.sh or something is unsetting
everything other than $LANG after lang.sh is processed.

What is going on?

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James B. Byrne                mailto:ByrneJB at Harte-Lyne.ca
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