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Changing the message language for Bash

Informatics
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The system language of my Ubuntu installation is set to German. Per default this also means that my command line output is in German if the application supports it. This can be a bit of a hindrance when developing, because error messages and warnings will also be in German which makes it harder to search for solutions – most discussions in help forums and blogs are in English.

So let's change the terminal language. In your ~/.bashrc file add the following lines:

unset LC_ALL
export LC_MESSAGES=C

If LC_ALL had a value, it would overwrite the setting for LC_MESSAGES, so it has to be unset first. I first tried setting LC_ALL=C, but this had the undesired side effect of certain keys behaving differently. I have a German keyboard with QWERTZ layout, but keys like “ä”, “ö”, “ü” suddenly did different things. I can only assume I would have run into some other issues as well. So keep it simple and just change the messages.

The next terminal you open will have the setting applied. Also note that this only affects your terminal and no other applications – except those launched from said terminal.

To check your language settings you can use locale. My output using Bash looks like this:

$ locale
LANG=de_DE.UTF-8
LANGUAGE=de_DE:en
LC_CTYPE="de_DE.UTF-8"
LC_NUMERIC=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_TIME=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_COLLATE="de_DE.UTF-8"
LC_MONETARY=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_MESSAGES=C
LC_PAPER=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_NAME=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_ADDRESS=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_TELEPHONE=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_MEASUREMENT=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_IDENTIFICATION=de_DE.UTF-8
LC_ALL=

Side note: I also tried LC_MESSAGES=en_US.UTF-8, but that didn't work – no idea why. I also didn't look further into it since I have a working solution.

Sources

xkcd (Blogs I Love – Part 3)

1

xkcd

A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

Nicht direkt ein Blog, aber erwähnenswert. Ein Webcomic mit Strichmännchen. Diese Kunst hat Randall Munroe perfektioniert. Munroe besitzt übrigens ein Diplom in Physik und hat bei der NASA an Robotern gearbeitet (so steht es auf seiner About-Seite). Der Humor fällt mehr so in die Kategorie For Geeks.

xkcd hat mittlerweile Kultstatus inne. Erwähnenswert finde ich auch, dass alle seine webcomics unter einer CreativeCommons-Lizenz (Namensnennung und nichtkommerziell) veröffentlicht sind.

xkcd: xkcd.com