I have found some chinese characters in one of a file on my linux mint 20.1 File - /proc/1/cmdline Chinese Characters - 猯楢⽮湩瑩猀汰獡h

But when i open same file in terminal using less command, it shows : /sbin/init^@splash^@

Is this normal or is there anything to worry about in terms of security?

  • So, There's no problem?? in GUI text editors it shows chinese characters.
    – Yasin
    Jan 18, 2021 at 16:03
  • What GUI text editors, exactly? If they do that by default, and it's not some kind of trick obtained by tweaking their settings, you can safely report it as a bug.
    – user313992
    Jan 18, 2021 at 20:26
  • @user414777 Since the data contains nul bytes, I'm assuming the editor realizes it's not a file in ASCII or UTF-8 encoding and starts cycling through the available encoding until it finds one that "make sense" to it. This is IMHO a relatively useful heuristic that might do the right thing in most situations, possibly.
    – Kusalananda
    Jan 18, 2021 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


If you take the nul-terminated strings /sbin/init and splash, and convert them from the UCS-2LE (or UNICODELITTLE, or UCS-2-INTERNAL) encoding using iconv, you get

$ printf '/sbin/init\0splash\0' | iconv -f UCS-2LE

The output from less is more correct. The less utility shows nul bytes (\0) as ^@.

Conclusion: The "Chinese text" that you are seeing is due to your editor determining that the data is encoded as UCS-2LE (for whatever reason). It is not actually Chinese but simply the two nul-terminated strings /sbin/init and splash.

There is nothing you need to worry about.

For more information about /sbin/init splash see:

Additionally, you should not expect a text editor to be able to correctly understand the contents of the virtual file /proc/1/cmdline as it's not a text file. This is probably why your text editor tried to determine the file's encoding, but failed to do so correctly.

See: Encoding of /proc/<pid>/cmdline files

  • 2
    Thank you so much. I learned few new things due to this.
    – Yasin
    Jan 18, 2021 at 16:33

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