8859 vs. 646

Ruediger Helsch ruediger at ramz.uucp
Fri Apr 6 23:52:16 AEST 1990

From: uunet!relay.EU.net!ramz!ruediger (Ruediger Helsch)

In article <579 at longway.TIC.COM> std-unix at uunet.uu.net writes:
>From: Donn Terry <uunet!hpfcrn.fc.hp.com!donn>
>The problem is that reality impinges on the ideal world.  In particular
>there are LOTS of 646 terminals out there.  And, as the European
>participants note, they aren't going to get replaced with 8859 ones
>for on the order of 10 years.  (646 also is still a lowest common
>denominator: as I understand it, sendmail can't handle 8-bit (if
>I'm wrong, I apologize, but you get my point)).

IMHO that's just not true any more. A great part of the common terminals in
germany are of the VT220 style, and though they are not 8859 compatible,
they are close enough for many purposes. 8859 and DEC multinational character
set differ mainly in the special characters section. For german letters there
is no difference between the two, same for most european letters. When we
are looking for terminals, we don't consider those 7 bit oldies.
For PCs under some Unix variants you can map characters on output to the
screen. E. g. under Xenix we work with 8859 internally and map them to the
IBM-PC character set on output. Works great!

More difficult is input of national characters. Most german keyboards miss
those braces and brackets that UNIX and C depend on, so we prefer using an
american keyboard and need the ALT-key to input national letters. We would
certainly prefer to buy keyboards with four additional keys if they existed.

Most problems stem from uncooperative software: Ultrix shell and C shell are
mot 8 bit clean, many communications programs mask the eighth bit, and standard
TeX does't allow for input of eight bit characters (our patched version does).
Hands up for System V, they are miles ahead of BSD in respect to 8 bit

Volume-Number: Volume 19, Number 58

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