Solving Perl locale issues on my Raspberry Pi

17 July 2016

On my Raspberry Pi 3 I would get locale warnings when using Perl commands. This blog post explains the steps I took to fix these warnings.

For example, the colordiff command would give the following error:

perl: warning: Setting locale failed.
perl: warning: Please check that your locale settings:
		LANGUAGE = "en_US.UTF-8",
		LC_ALL = "en_US.UTF-8",
		LC_CTYPE = "en_CA.UTF-8",
		LANG = "en_US.UTF-8"
	are supported and installed on your system.
perl: warning: Falling back to the standard locale ("C").

To fix it, I first uncommented the locales I wanted in the /etc/locale.gen file.

sudo vi /etc/locale.gen

Uncommenting means removing the # mark at the start of a line. Any line that starts with a # is ignored, so removing the mark means the line will be read. Here I have uncommented the en_GB.UTF-8 and en_US.UTF-8 locales:

editing the /etc/locale.gen file

Next I ran the following two commands:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

sudo locale-gen

This solved my issue and now Perl does not throw the warning! The output of the two commands are displayed in the screenshots below.

results of dpkg-reconfigure locales command

results of locale-gen command

I was curious about the dpkg-reconfigure locales and locale-gen commands. The following is my summary from reading the man pages for those commands.

dpkg-reconfigure - The dpkg-reconfigure command reconfigures an already installed package: the locales package in this case. The debconf-show package_name command will display what is currently configured on a package. Running this command gave me the following result:

* locales/locales_to_be_generated: en_CA.UTF-8 UTF-8, en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8, en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
* locales/default_environment_locale: en_US.UTF-8

The above was the result after having already run the dpkg-reconfigure locales command. Running the dpkg-reconfigure locales command again would regenerate those locales.

locale-gen - From the man pages:

locale-gen is a program that reads the file /etc/locale.gen and invokes localedef for the chosen localisation profiles. Run locale-gen after you have modified the /etc/locale.gen file.

So, the localdef program is run for each locale I uncommented in the /etc/locale.gen file. The localdef program creates binary files used by the locale functions in the C library. These binary files contain information about how various locale attributes should be formatted.


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