Set default encoding of terminal to UTF-8 in Ubuntu 14.04

note from Tue May 24, 2016

This drove me crazy for nearly two years. On my Ubuntu 14.04 installations, I was not able to set the default encoding for my terminal to utf-8, no matter what I set my environment variables to. Instead, all terminals would start up with the encoding set to the current locale's, which in my case was ANSIX3.4-1968. At the end, the two different solutions worked for me.

Set locale environment variable

Put this in your /etc/environment file. Create the file if it doesn't exist.


Apparently gnome-terminal will pick up locale before your bash profile files load, so you'll need to set LC_ALL somewhere pretty early in the boot process.

If that doesn' work,

Set gnome configuration value

You can alternatively set the default encoding for gnome-terminal explicitly using conftool: 

gconftool --set --type=string /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/encoding ISO-8859-1

I hope this saves somebody out there some frustration in trying to figure this out.


tags: #ubuntu #linux #gnome-terminal #utf-8 #ANSIX3.4-1968

What I'm reading now

A friend recommended "The Little Schemer." The book sets out to teach good recursive thinking through the Scheme programming language. It's slow reading for me, but I am quite enjoying it. I'm learning quite a lot from it. Here's a link to it on Amazon where you can read more about it.


Update 4/24/2016:
Acer Chromebook 14

Acer announced the Chromebook 14 a couple of weeks back. It looks pretty promising with the aluminum case and faster processor. Amazon has it on pre-order now. I'll be keeping my eye out on this one!

Acer CB3-111

This is the Chromebook I'm using now. I just about carry it around wherever I go. I like the build quality much better than the c720, although it has a slower processor. The keyboard feels "solid" and the trackpad has a nice tight click.

Acer Chromebook C720

I also have the 11.6" C720. I can't find the model any more, but it had a Celeron 2955U dual-core processor, 2G memory and 16G SDD. It's a great POWERFUL little machine. My biggest complaint is the build quality. I had to send mine back to replace the track pad and controller after two months. The key board feels a little cheap, and the trackpad click sounds realy awful. The battery life isn't as long as the CB3-111 (because of the fan, I'm told), but it's fast. Here is the closest one that I've found to the one I have. It's a little more powerful with a Core i3-4005U processor.