The  Unicode  3.0 character set occupies a 16-bit code space.  The most
       obvious Unicode encoding (known as UCS-2) consists  of  a  sequence  of
       16-bit words.  Such strings can contain as parts of many 16-bit charac-
       ters bytes like '\0' or '/' which have a special meaning  in  filenames
       and  other  C library function arguments.  In addition, the majority of
       UNIX tools expects ASCII files and can't read 16-bit words  as  charac-
       ters  without  major  modifications.  For these reasons, UCS-2 is not a
       suitable external encoding of Unicode in filenames, text  files,  envi-
       ronment  variables,  and  so on.  The ISO 10646 Universal Character Set
       (UCS), a superset of Unicode, occupies even a 31-bit code space and the
       obvious UCS-4 encoding for it (a sequence of 32-bit words) has the same

       The UTF-8 encoding of Unicode and UCS does not have these problems  and
       is the common way in which Unicode is used on UNIX-style operating sys-

       The UTF-8 encoding has the following nice properties:

       * UCS characters 0x00000000 to 0x0000007f (the classic US-ASCII charac-
         ters) are encoded simply as bytes 0x00 to 0x7f (ASCII compatibility).
         This means that files and strings  which  contain  only  7-bit  ASCII
         characters have the same encoding under both ASCII and UTF-8.

       * All  UCS  characters  greater  than  0x7f  are encoded as a multibyte
         sequence consisting only of bytes in the range 0x80 to  0xfd,  so  no
         ASCII  byte  can appear as part of another character and there are no
         problems with, for example,  '\0' or '/'.

       * The lexicographic sorting order of UCS-4 strings is preserved.

       * All possible 2^31 UCS codes can be encoded using UTF-8.

       * The bytes 0xc0, 0xc1, 0xfe and 0xff  are  never  used  in  the  UTF-8

       * The first byte of a multibyte sequence which represents a single non-
         ASCII UCS character is always in the range 0xc2 to 0xfd and indicates
         how  long  this multibyte sequence is.  All further bytes in a multi-
         byte sequence are in the range 0x80 to 0xbf.  This allows easy resyn-
         chronization  and  makes  the  encoding  stateless and robust against
         missing bytes.

       * UTF-8 encoded UCS characters may be up to six bytes long, however the
         Unicode  standard  specifies no characters above 0x10ffff, so Unicode
         characters can be only up to four bytes long in UTF-8.

       The following byte sequences are used to represent  a  character.   The
       sequence to be used depends on the UCS code number of the character:

       0x00200000 - 0x03FFFFFF:
           111110xx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx

       0x04000000 - 0x7FFFFFFF:
           1111110x 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx

       The  xxx  bit  positions are filled with the bits of the character code
       number in binary representation.  Only the shortest possible  multibyte
       sequence  which  can  represent the code number of the character can be

       The UCS code values 0xd800-0xdfff (UTF-16 surrogates) as well as 0xfffe
       and  0xffff  (UCS  noncharacters) should not appear in conforming UTF-8

       The Unicode character 0xa9 = 1010 1001 (the copyright sign) is  encoded
       in UTF-8 as

              11000010 10101001 = 0xc2 0xa9

       and  character 0x2260 = 0010 0010 0110 0000 (the "not equal" symbol) is
       encoded as:

              11100010 10001001 10100000 = 0xe2 0x89 0xa0

   Application notes
       Users have to select a UTF-8 locale, for example with

              export LANG=en_GB.UTF-8

       in order to activate the UTF-8 support in applications.

       Application software that has to be aware of the used character  encod-
       ing should always set the locale with for example

              setlocale(LC_CTYPE, "")

       and programmers can then test the expression

              strcmp(nl_langinfo(CODESET), "UTF-8") == 0

       to  determine  whether  a  UTF-8  locale  has been selected and whether
       therefore all plaintext standard input and output, terminal  communica-
       tion,  plaintext  file content, filenames and environment variables are
       encoded in UTF-8.

       Programmers accustomed to single-byte encodings such as US-ASCII or ISO
       8859  have  to  be aware that two assumptions made so far are no longer
       valid in UTF-8 locales.  Firstly, a single byte  does  not  necessarily
       correspond any more to a single character.  Secondly, since modern ter-
       minal emulators in UTF-8  mode  also  support  Chinese,  Japanese,  and
       Korean  double-width characters as well as nonspacing combining charac-
       ters, outputting a single character does not  necessarily  advance  the
       POSIX  systems,  leading to a significantly richer environment for han-
       dling plain text.

       The Unicode and UCS standards require that producers of UTF-8 shall use
       the  shortest form possible, for example, producing a two-byte sequence
       with first byte 0xc0 is  nonconforming.   Unicode  3.1  has  added  the
       requirement that conforming programs must not accept non-shortest forms
       in their input.  This is for security reasons: if user input is checked
       for  possible  security  violations, a program might check only for the
       ASCII version of "/../" or ";" or NUL and overlook that there are  many
       non-ASCII ways to represent these things in a non-shortest UTF-8 encod-

       ISO/IEC 10646-1:2000, Unicode 3.1, RFC 3629, Plan 9.

       nl_langinfo(3), setlocale(3), charsets(7), unicode(7)

       This page is part of release 3.54 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
       description  of  the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
       be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.

GNU                               2012-04-30                          UTF-8(7)
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