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Running Centos 6.3. In gnome-terminal UTF-8 works, but only after I've chosen (the already chosen) UTF-8 encoding in gnome-terminal settings.

How do I force gnome-terminal to respect its own encoding setting?

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I don't know, but try urxvt instead of gnome-terminal. It is faster (the "r" is for reduced resources) and, as for your problem, the "u" is for Unicode :) – Emanuel Berg Jan 7 '13 at 20:08
Do you have a simple testcase anyone else can try? I suspect most people using CentOS 6 think their Gnome Terminal works just fine with Unicode. A good example would be a bit of text inserted into your question that, when pasted into a local file and catted, doesn't show up right. – Warren Young Jan 8 '13 at 15:52

I had this exact problem. I fixed it by adding export LANG="en_GB.utf8" to ~/.bashrc and then logged out to restart my X window session.

Use locale -a | grep -i utf8 from the command-line to get a list of locales with UTF-8 support.

I think the problem is that Gnome Terminal will automatically disable UTF-8 support if it doesn't detect it in your locale environment variables.

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