Curious characters in Thunderbird on Linux...

Kevin Martin kevintm at
Thu Jul 31 14:26:44 UTC 2008

Björn Persson wrote:
> Tim wrote:
>> On Wed, 2008-07-30 at 20:54 -0500, Kevin Martin wrote:
>>> So if messages are sent using an encoding that you are not this will
>>> happen?  Crud, how do you get around /that/?
>> Your client should automatically display the text correctly, transcoding
>> if it has to.  Of course, that will only work if:
>> 1. The message correctly identifies which encoding it used.
>> 2. It's an encoding that your client understands.
>> 3. You have fonts that can provide the characters needed.
>> 4. You haven't forced your client to use a particular encoding.
>> 5. The message hasn't been mangled in transit.
> Thunderbird is good with character encodings in my experience, so points 1 and 
> 2 shouldn't be a problem on your end, Kevin. Point 3 should give different 
> symptoms. I don't know if point 4 is possible in Thunderbird. You may want to 
> check that, but otherwise the problem is probably not with Thunderbird. Then 
> it's either the other person's email program, or a broken gateway (point 5).
>> If you think all of that is a right headache, it is.  That's why there
>> was a push for unicode all those years back.  One scheme for everyone,
>> and no transcoding required.
> Unicode was invented some 50 years too late. A gazillion different encodings 
> were created in the meantime, and now we have to cope with the mess.
> Björn Persson
Well, my encodings /were/ set to force UTF8 in and out.  I've now just 
set that as the default but aren't enforcing them with the 
Preferences->Display->Fonts check boxes anymore.  It looks /better/ but 
still non-alphanumeric characters (like apostrophe) are hosed.  Maybe 
I'll change my default from UTF8 to one of the ISO "standard" encodings 
and see how it looks.


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