I accidentally add a locale, e.g. sudo locale-gen zh_TW
e.g. locale -a
But how to remove it?
Which locales are installed on my machine?
You can check which locales are generated and configured on your system using the locale command:
locale ... list the current locale configuration
locale -a ... lists all all locales that were generated on your system
locale -a -v ... list all locales and show useful additional information (such as
directory names that contain the locale information data files)
The last command from above makes you see that all generated locales are located in
/usr/lib/locale/, and you may remove any of them if unneeded. Each pack of locale information is a directory containing text files and other directories.
All locales that you want your system to support are listed in the text files in
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/. These files have two columns, language tag and character map.
I want my system to know US-English only, so I have only one file there, called
en, which contains just a single line:
If error messages are displayed when issuing the locale command, e.g.
locale: Cannot set LC_ALL to default locale: No such file or directory
make sure the file
/etc/default/locale exists and has proper content, such as:
Get rid of unneeded locale data - Step by step
Now we know all the necessary details to get started with cleaning up our system's locale information:
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/, and remove all unneeded locales (one locale per line)
/etc/default/locale (see above for an example)
rm -rfv /usr/lib/locale/*
That's all! Reboot your machine to make your changes take effect. Then run one or more of the locale command examples from above to ensure yourself that the result is as expected.
Note: Some of the commands below require root privileges, consider the use of
man locale-gen, locales are set in several files.
The main configuration file, which has a simple format: every line that is not empty and does not begin with a # is treated as a locale definition that is to be built.
A directory containing locale.gen snippets provided by language-pack packages. Do not edit these manually, they will be overwritten on package upgrades.
Locales are compiled (generated) into a single file.
Usual default locale archive location.
Comprehensive details on locales at the Arch Wiki.
To list available (known) locales, run any of the following commands (with minor output differences).
To check the (already) generated locales, run the following command.
To check the currently used locale, run any of the following commands (with minor output differences).
Locales are typically set by uncommenting lines in
/etc/locale.gen, after which running
locale-gen is required.
nano /etc/locale.gen # uncomment desired lines (locales)
This will compile (generate) locales into
/usr/lib/locale/locale-archive for each uncommented line in
/etc/locale.gen and under
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/, whether they were previously compiled or not.
Alternatively, the command
will uncomment the corresponding line in
locale-gen while generating the desired locale and only this one.
Note: The implementation of
locale-gen is distro dependent. For instance, the command above is valid in Ubuntu/Debian but not in ArchLinux.
locale-gen, the compiled archive is erased and all locales in
/etc/locale.gen and under
/usr/lib/locale/locale-archive are regenerated anew. The command
locale-gen --purge <locale> doesn't do what the modifier suggests but the opposite: It removes all compiled locales except those indicated. To make sure only specific locales are generated when
locale-gen is issued or and update is performed both
/usr/lib/locale/locale-archive must be considered.
To remove locales in
/etc/locale.gen, simply comment the desired lines and regenerate the locales using
To remove locales under
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/ is trickier. Since any file
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/<code> depends on the package
language-pack-<code>-base, any change on the former will be restored when the latter is updated. To solve this, simply hold the packages that update files under
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/. The command that achieves this in Ubuntu/Debian is the following.
Workaround. A more intrusive but general solution that prevents changes under
/var/lib/locales/supported.d/ is to set files in it with the "immutable (i)" attribute. So instead of removing files, empty them. For instance:
rm <code> && touch <code> # <code> has been emptied
lsattr <code> # regular attributes
chattr +i <code> # adding (+) immutable
lsattr <code> # checking attributes
Setting and generating locales does not set the system locale. Any of the following commands achieves this.
echo LANG=<code> | sudo tee /etc/locale.conf # reboot (might be ignored in Ubuntu)
localectl set-locale LANG=<code>
I am unsure why the most Distributions and Users are unaware from localepurge
For Debian based Systems, should it be available by
apt-get install localepurge
From the Manpage:
localepurge is a small script to recover disk space wasted for unneeded locale files and localized man pages. It will be automagically invoked by dpkg upon completion of any apt installation run.
You have to define the locale diretory names you want to keep from removal after each apt installation run in the /etc/locale.nopurge configuration file. Unless localepurge has been adequately configured, the system's localization files won't be touched at all.
The contents of following directories will be affected from removals:
The localization files you actually need and which you want to be preserved on your system can be easily configured by running the following command:
Conclusion: This Script will take care of any unwanted locales at the moment and in the future.