Devin Reade

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Changing the Default Locale

"Locales" affect the way a computer displays its data. It is a customization that permits an internationalization of the system by affecting character sets, what words a program displays, and other things.

The traditional locale (the one used before the concept of locales was introduced into computing) is known as the "C" locale, since it has its origins in the C programming language.

Red Hat is good for its support of locales. It has selected en_US as its default locale which, while being self-centered, can be excused. After all, if someone prefers a different locale they can always select it during the installation process or change it later.

My complaint with Red Hat in this matter is that there is no way to select the C locale during the installation process; it is just not an option. (I would also contend that the C locale should be the "default" default locale ...)

How to fix it:

  1. In the file /etc/sysconfig/i18n, add "C" (without the quotes) to the value of the SUPPORTED variable, if that variable exists. (The SUPPORTED variable existed on earlier RedHat distributions, but was removed for modern distributions.) Note that the value of the SUPPORTED variable is a colon-delimited list.
  2. Change the LANG variable to read:
    You may want to keep a copy of the old LANG line, commented out by preceeding it with a # character, so that you can at some point in the future determine what locale was used during installation. (This can be useful in certain pathological cases.)
The change will be effective for all new logins. If your users want to use a different locale, let them set it in their own environments.

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Last Updated: 22 Jan 2010