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OS X Terminal: -bash: warning: setlocale: LC_CTYPE: cannot change locale (UTF-8): No such file or directory Fix

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I‘m a new Apple OS X Mabbook user. I am getting an error which read as follows when I connect to any remote Linux/Unix/BSD server or machine through OS X ssh Terminal app:

ssh [email protected]
Last login: Wed Mar 26 08:45:36 2014 from 1.2.3.4
-bash: warning: setlocale: LC_CTYPE: cannot change locale (UTF-8): No such file or directory

How do I fix this error?

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
RequirementsNone
Estimated completion time2m

This warning or error is part of both OpenSSH server and OS X ssh terminal client issue. It can be fixed using various methods.

Understanding LC_* environment variables

Type the following command on remote server to display of all locales supported by Glibc:
$ locale -a
Next, type the following command to display settings on your local system (OSX/Unix/Linux based desktop):

  printenv echo "$ LC_CTYPE"

Sample outputs:

UTF-8

The above commands display the country and language names, the character encoding used by the locale. Your local ssh client is sending your LC_* environment variables to remote sshd server. In other words, SSH will try to set every LC_* variable you have set on your local OSX system on the remove server too. Here is an example of such problem:

Fig 01: warning setlocale lc_ctype cannot change locale (utf-8)

Fig 01: warning setlocale lc_ctype cannot change locale (utf-8)

Fixing the LC_CTYPE: cannot change locale (UTF-8) error on Linux/OS X

This can be fixed as follows.

Method #1: If you are using the Terminal app on OS X

If you are using the ‘Terminal’ app then click on
Terminal > Preferences > Select Terminal type such as Basic (default) > Advanced tab
Make sure that the ‘Set locale environment variables on startup’ is unchecked as follows:

Fig.02: Fixing OS X terminal by unsetting ''Set locale environment variables on startup' check box

Fig.02: Fixing OS X terminal by unsetting ”Set locale environment variables on startup’ check box

You must close all ssh session and relaunch Terminal app.

Method #2: Preventing OpenSSH Client from sending the LC_* variables on OS X / Linux / Unix desktop

Edit /etc/ssh/ssh_config or /etc/ssh_config file, enter:
$ sudo vi ~/.ssh/config
Remove or comment out as follows:

  #SendEnv LANG LC_*

Save and close the file.

Option #3: Install required locale on the remote server

Finally, you can fix this problem either installing the desired locale using the localedef command, or consider choosing a different locale in locale/remote system:
# localedef -i en_US -f UTF-8 en_US.UTF-8

 

  • That was helpful, thanks. I my case it was simply a naming mismatch.

    “locale -a” on remote host -> en_US.utf8 and more
    “echo $LC_CTYPE” in macOS terminal app -> UTF-8

    So, UTF-8 is there but it’s spelled differently.