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README for Recode


What is Recode?

The Recode library converts files between character sets and usages. It recognises or produces over 200 different character sets (or about 300 if combined with an iconv library) and transliterates files between almost any pair. When exact transliteration are not possible, it gets rid of offending characters or falls back on approximations. The recode program is a handy front-end to the library.

Glance through this README file before starting configuration. Make sure you read files ABOUT-NLS and INSTALL if you are not familiar with them already.

The Recode program and library have been written by François Pinard, yet it significantly reuses tabular works from Keld Simonsen. It is an evolving package, and specifications might change in future releases.

On various Unix systems, Recode is usually compiled from sources, see the Installation section below. On Linux, it often comes bundled. Recode had been ported to other popular systems. See both contrib/README and the Non-Unix ports section below, to find some more information about these.

Reports and collaboration

Please file bug reports as GitHub Issues. If you cannot use GitHub, do write directly to A bug report is an adequate description of the problem: your input, what you expected, what you got, and why this is wrong. Patches are welcome, but they only describe a solution, from which the problem might be uneasy to infer. If needed, submit actual data files with your report.

Your feedback will help us to make a better and more portable package. Consider documentation errors as bugs, and report them as such. If you develop anything pertaining to Recode or have suggestions, please share them on GitHub.

The Git repository for Recode gives access, through the magic of Git and GitHub, to all distribution releases, be they actual or past, pretest or official, as well as individual files.


In a hurry?

See INSTALL. (For installing from git, see

More fine-grained instructions follow.


Simple installation of Recode requires the usual tools and facilities as those needed for most GNU packages. If not already bundled with your system, you also need to install Python, version 3.5 or later.

It is also convenient to have some iconv library already present on your system, this much extends Recode capabilities, especially in the area of Asiatic character sets. GNU libc, as found on Linux systems and a few others, already has such an iconv library. Otherwise, you might consider installing the portable libiconv, written by Bruno Haible.

Getting a release

Source files and various distributions (either latest, prestest, or archive) are available through GitHub.

Configure options

Once you have an unpacked distribution, see files:

File nameDescription
ABOUT-NLShow to customise this program to your language
COPYINGcopying conditions for the program
COPYING.LIBcopying conditions for the library
INSTALLcompilation and installation instructions
NEWSmajor changes in the current release
THANKSpartial list of contributors

Besides those configure options documented in files INSTALL and ABOUT-NLS, a few extra options may be accepted by ./configure:

  • Option --with-dmalloc

    to trigger a debugging feature for looking at memory management problems, it pre-requires Gray Watson’s dmalloc package.