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Netzwelt Irssi, PuTTY, Screen & Unicode UTF-8

For some reason it seems to be non-trivial to get Unicode to work in console apps, so I decided to make an illustrated guide about Irssi, PuTTY and GNU screen. Hope it helps.

Note: you needn’t be using GNU screen to follow this guide.

Since this is screenshot-heavy, the images are hidden after the jump.

(If you’re not using screen, you can skip to the PuTTY section.)

Configuring screen to use UTF-8

This one is simple but important. If you’re using GNU screen, make sure to start it with -U parameter to enable unicode mode. This does not work when attaching to an existing session, you need to start a new session.

% screen -U irssi

screen.exe -U irssi.exe

Configure PuTTY to use Unicode UTF-8

Configuring PuTTY to use UTF-8 is a three-step process:

  1. Open the PuTTY configure dialogue by clicking in the upper left corner of the window and selecting “Change Settings…” from the menu:
  2. Go to “Translation” on the left side tree menu and select “UTF-8” from the pulldown menu to the right:
  3. Apply the settings:
    click on [Apply]

Configuring Irssi to use UTF-8

If you try to input UTF-8 into Irssi now…
[(status)] 你|hao_

it won’t work properly:
[(status)] ▒▒▒▒▒▒

You’ll need to set up Irssi for use with UTF-8 first by setting the term_charset to utf-8:
[(status)] /set term_charset utf-8

Trying again…
[(status)] 你|hao_

Yay, it works!
[(status)] 你好

And you can even talk to mIRC users:
(screenshot of mIRC and Irssi) (if they speak your language…)


» Channel:Encoding (manual trackback)
Irssi Set up environment encoding Ensure that your terminal and shell use an encoding that supports Japanese characters. Use echo $LANG in a terminal to check. Any UTF-8 locale, such as en_US.UTF-8 works. Also, if you use Irssi in GNU Screen and/or...
» PuTTY: default to UTF-8 (manual trackback)
There are quite a few posts on how setting the “Window > Translation > Received Charset” of PuTTY to UTF-8 helps when connecting to current UTF-8 base Linux systems. I’ll just add this snippet of code, which can be used as putty_utf8.reg to fix this...

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Comments (12)

This comment is a little bit late, but thanks; this was really useful! Lack of Japanese characters in irssi was really irking me.

Glad it could be of use to you :)

A bit late but nice guide. By the way even though doing all that you may experience some problems like the input looks fine but after pressing enter it turns into question marks. In order to fix that you have to do:

/set recode_fallback utf-8

Thanks for the UTF guide. Great help!

very thanks for your guide,I finally use irssi in windows support utf8(zh_CN.UTF-8).

Still doesn't work for me. UTF-8 encoding is set for putty, and under linux using gnome-terminal I can see Unicode characters within my screen'd irssi, but whenever I try it in putty it just looks like gibberish. I have lucida sans unicode installed but I can't seem to use it as a putty font. What font are you using here? And is there anything different I need to do for vista?

2,5 years old and still very helpful :D

I've tried three terminals so far - normal cmd, then Console2 which had issues with the clipboard and didn't execute commands in other tabs besides irssi and then Terminator that did not display wide characters and could not understand window change hotkeys (Alt+ 0-9).

Puttycyg has worked best so far and your guide helped to set it up! :)

Vielen Dank dafür

Useful information. Thanks!

Thanks a bunch, I hope you don't mind that I copy-pasted the steps into a blogpost? I want to help people find this knowledge!

Dude! You rock! ;)

eh, i have same problem as #23478 (under windows/puttycyg)

while i'm typing i see correct characters, after sending to a channel i see some trash...

RE: Ayanami#28936 and no one#23478.

If you read up a bit further, Suzuran#20396 has some insight into another irssi setting that you might need to change.