Is Unicode welcome yet on the list?

Stefan Baums sbaums at GMX.NET
Wed Jan 30 20:06:35 UTC 2002

Dear list,

please bear with the length of this post.  I am addressing your
questions re Unicode one by one.

Regarding Valerie Roebuck's concern about the memory requirements of
Unicode text:

   The form of Unicode used on the web and in email is called UTF-8.
   It continues to encode all Western European letters as single
   bytes, and would use 2 bytes for most letters with Sanskrit
   diacritics.  It thus has the exact same memory requirements as
   Harvard-Kyoto ('.n' etc. are also two bytes each).

About those of us using older computers and software (voluntary or

   This would seem to be the greatest obstacle.  While it is
   relatively straightforward to update one's home computer to Unicode
   supporting software (any computer running Windows 9x or higher now
   should be powerful enough), those using email clients like pine on
   a university network terminal have little influence over the
   software installed on that system.  One could, however, prod the
   university computer service to upgrade to Unicode-aware program
   versions (the newest versions of Pine, e.g., are, and there is
   always Mutt 1.3.x / 1.4.x (, see below).

Note to Richard Mahoney concerning Mutt:

   Mutt 1.3.x and the upcoming 1.4.x have excellent support for
   Unicode.  This requires XFree86 4.x.x and an iconv implementation
   (there's one included in the GNU C library, and for BSD people
   there is a standalone implementation).  I am myself using Mutt.

Note to Jürgen Hanneder concerning Unicode character input under

   I'm using GNU Emacs.  I'll send you my input method offlist.
   Anybody else who wants it, just email me.

About Windows / Macintosh / GNU/Linux:

   I find it interesting that the two of you who did report success
   reading my Unicode email were using GNU/Linux.  (So much for
   Microsoft's assertion that free operating systems could never
   achieve complexities such as "deep Unicode support".)  What is
   required is basically just XFree86 4.x.x and glibc 2.2.x plus a
   suitable email client (mutt, kmail, emacs, ...) (all included in
   recent distributions).  Detailed, somewhat technical instructions
   at, or email me for

   Under Windows, one probably just needs to set the (up-to-date)
   email program's font to one including the proper diacritics.  Arial
   Unicode is fine, or use Andrew Glass's excellent Gandhari Unicode
   font (

   Unicode is possible under Macs, but I don't know the details.

Unicode and the list:

   It does not make sense to use Unicode on the list as long as that
   excludes people from reading one's posts.  Unicode is, however, the
   best answer to Indologist encoding needs, so I suggest we discuss
   this issue again in the future.  One could also set up a webpage on
   the Indology site with hints on configuring systems for (the
   Indologically interesting part of) Unicode.

Best regards,
Stefan Baums

Stefan Baums
Københavns Universitet

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