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Re: [gnu.org #1363250] ASCII maintain.txt is no longer ASCII

From: Antonio Diaz Diaz
Subject: Re: [gnu.org #1363250] ASCII maintain.txt is no longer ASCII
Date: Sat, 02 Mar 2019 19:23:51 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i586; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110420 SeaMonkey/2.0.14

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
I asked what you defined as "pure" and "unpure ASCII".  What is
"unpure ASCII"?  I gather that by "pure ASCII" you mean exactly 7-bit
ASCII, is that correct?

Yes, that is correct. AFAIK, 7-bit ASCII is the only ASCII, and according to my Oxford fictionary, "pure" means "unmixed with any other substance, etc".

I took simple to mean dumb, what is a simple terminal?

By "simple terminal" I meant any terminal unable to show multibyte UTF-8 characters correctly.

    This is how maintain.txt should look:

Mike Gerwitz mentions that it is intentional that the GCS etc should
be using UTF-8, not 7-bit ASCII.  So it definitly should not use 7-bit
ASCII quotes in that setting.

IMHO, using multibyte UTF-8 quotes in an otherwise ASCII file is making a disservice to all users with 8-bit terminals.

    This is how maintain.txt looks on my ISO-8859-15 terminal viewed with ed:

What is a ISO-8859-15 terminal? Is it compatible with VT100?  But if
you are using the wrong locale, of course the results will be strange.

It is a text-mode linux console on an old machine with a kernel compiled without UTF-8 support that can't be changed. I guess this is not the only machine out there unable to show multibyte UTF-8 quotes.

    I know of no info viewer able to convert every UTF-8 character to a
    printable character in ASCII or ISO-8859-X. The info viewer in this
    machine (info (GNU texinfo) 4.13+) is not even able to convert the
    three-byte UTF-8 quotes present in maintain.info to ASCII.

That is not what I wrote though, I did not say that Info should
convert anything only adjust its locale.  There is enough information
in the Info file to deduce the encoding (i.e. coding: utf-8 at the

It seems you have a powerful machine with a modern distro that allows you "adjust its locale" (to UTF-8, I guess). On many machines out there, that is not possible (or desirable).

    So, please, could maintain.txt and maintain.info be coded again in ASCII
    (as advertised) for maximum compatibility with UTF-8 and 8-bit
    terminals? Thanks.

Lets not make hasty random changes, specially when this one was very
explicit.  Lets take the time to understand the problem first, and
then find a solution.

IMHO, the problem is clear. Using multibyte UTF-8 characters where ASCII suffices, inconveniences all users lacking an UTF-8 capable machine or software.

Moreover, what is the advantage of multibyte UTF-8 quotes for users with UTF-8 capable screens? They make the text easier to understand or something?

Best regards,

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