On my Linux desktop I have a UTF-8 locale. When I try to search some KOI8-R encoded files with grep (ack), it fails. If I manually encode the pattern into KOI8-R and pass that as an argument, it works.

Is it possible to tell grep what encoding to use for the pattern? Or any other tool?

1 Answer 1


If all the files you're searching in have the same encoding:

LC_CTYPE=ru_RU.KOI8-R luit ack-grep "$(echo 'привет' | iconv -t KOI8-R)" *.txt

or in bash or zsh

LC_CTYPE=ru_RU.KOI8-R luit ack-grep "$(iconv -t KOI8-R <<<'привет')" *.txt

Or start a child shell in the desired encoding:

$ LC_CTYPE=ru_RU.KOI8-R luit
$ ack-grep 'привет' *.txt
$ exit

Luit (shipped with XFree86 and X.org) runs the program specified on its command line in the locale specified by the LC_CTYPE setting, assuming an UTF-8 terminal. So the command runs in the desired locale, and Luit translates its terminal output to UTF-8.

Another approach, if you have a directory tree with a lot of files in a different encoding, is to mount a view of that directory tree under a your prefered encoding. I think the fuseflt filesystem can do this (untested).

mkdir /utf8-view
fuseflt iconv-koi8r-utf8.conf /some/dir /utf8-view
ack-grep 'привет' /utf8-view/*.txt.utf8
fusermount -u /utf8-view

where the configuration file iconv-koi8r-utf8.conf contains

ext_in =
ext_out = *.utf8
flt_in =
flt_out = .utf8
flt_cmd = iconv -f KOI8-R -t UTF-8
  • @eugeney Silly me, I forgot that you need to translate the pattern as well, so it's a little more complicated than what I wrote. Sorry about that. I updated my answer. Mar 6, 2012 at 21:32

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