luit - Locale and ISO 2022 support for Unicode terminals


luit [ options] [

-- ] [ program[ args] ]


Luit is a filter that can be run between an arbitrary application and a UTF-8 terminal emulator. It will convert application output from the locale's encoding into UTF-8, and convert terminal input from UTF-8 into the locale's encoding. An application may also request switching to a different output encoding using ISO 2022 and ISO 6429 escape sequences. Use of this feature is discouraged: multilingual applications should be modified to directly generate UTF-8 instead.

Luit is usually invoked transparently by the terminal emulator. For information about running

luit from the command line, see EXAMPLES below.



    Display some summary help and quit.


    List the supported charsets and encodings, then quit.


    Be verbose.


    Function as a simple converter from standard input to standard output.


    Exit as soon as the child dies. This may cause

luit to lose data at the end of the child's output.

  • -argv0 name
        Set the child's name (as passed in argv[0]).
  • -encoding encoding
        Set up

luit to use encodingrather than the current locale's encoding.


    Disable interpretation of single shifts in application output.


    Disable interpretation of locking shifts in application output.


    Disable interpretation of character set selection sequences in application output.


    Disable interpretation of all sequences and pass all sequences in application output to the terminal unchanged. This may lead to interesting results.


    Generate seven-bit characters for keyboard input.


    Disable generation of single-shifts for keyboard input.


    Use GL codes after a single shift for keyboard input. By default, GR codes are generated after a single shift when generating eight-bit keyboard input.


    Generate locking shifts (SO/SI) for keyboard input.

  • -gl gn
        Set the initial assignment of GL. The argument should be one of

R g0 ,

R g1 ,

g2 or

R g3 . The default depends on the locale, but is usually

R g0 .

  • -gr gk
        Set the initial assignment of GR. The default depends on the locale, and is usually

g2 except for EUC locales, where it is

R g1 .

  • -g0 charset
        Set the charset initially selected in G0. The default depends on the locale, but is usually


  • -g1 charset
        Set the charset initially selected in G1. The default depends on the locale.
  • -g2 charset
        Set the charset initially selected in G2. The default depends on the locale.
  • -g3 charset
        Set the charset initially selected in G3. The default depends on the locale.
  • -ilog filename
        Log into filenameall the bytes received from the child.
  • -olog filename
        Log into filenameall the bytes sent to the terminal emulator.


    End of options.


The most typical use of

luit is to adapt an instance of

XTerm to the locale's encoding. Current versions of

XTerm invoke

luit automatically when it is needed. If you are using an older release of

R XTerm , or a different terminal emulator, you may invoke

luit manually:

$ xterm -u8 -e luit

If you are running in a UTF-8 locale but need to access a remote machine that doesn't support UTF-8,

luit can adapt the remote output to your terminal:

$ LC_ALL=fr_FR luit ssh legacy-machine

Luit is also useful with applications that hard-wire an encoding that is different from the one normally used on the system or want to use legacy escape sequences for multilingual output. In particular, versions of

Emacs that do not speak UTF-8 well can use

luit for multilingual output:

$ luit -encoding 'ISO 8859-1' emacs -nw

And then, in

R Emacs ,

M-x set-terminal-coding-system RET iso-2022-8bit-ss2 RET



    The system-wide encodings directory.


    The file mapping locales to locale encodings.


On systems with SVR4 (``Unix-98'') ptys (Linux version 2.2 and later, SVR4),

luit should be run as the invoking user. On systems without SVR4 (``Unix-98'') ptys (notably BSD variants), running

luit as an ordinary user will leave the tty world-writable; this is a security hole, and luit will generate a warning (but still accept to run). A possible solution is to make

luit suid root;

luit should drop privileges sufficiently early to make this safe. However, the startup code has not been exhaustively audited, and the author takes no responsibility for any resulting security issues.

Luit will refuse to run if it is installed setuid and cannot safely drop privileges.


None of this complexity should be necessary. Stateless UTF-8 throughout the system is the way to go. Charsets with a non-trivial intermediary byte are not yet supported. Selecting alternate sets of control characters is not supported and will never be.


xterm(1), unicode(7), utf-8(7), charsets(7). Character Code Structure and Extension Techniques (ISO 2022, ECMA-35).Control Functions for Coded Character Sets (ISO 6429, ECMA-48).


The version of

Luit included in this X.Org Foundation release was originally written by Juliusz Chroboczek <> for the XFree86 Project.