KOI8 problems -- Cyrillic problems

The page you just viewed could not be displayed correctly because it was written in KOI8 or KOI8-R, a Cyrillic encoding.
Instead of beautiful Cyrillic letters, you were probably either seeing interrogative signs, like ?????? ??? ??????????????? ??? (in Microsoft Internet Explorer) or very odd latin letters, like Ç·€ €ÚÓ*ÌËÍ ?ÏÂ*ËÍ?ÌÒÍË?Ú Ô*ÂÁËÃÂÌÚ ÑÊÓ*ÃÊ ì. ÅÛ¯.

Don't worry. This page gives you some guidelines for workarounds.

But first some general stuff: KOI8 is an abbreviation of Russian Kod Obmena Informacii 8 bit, i.e., '8 bit information exchange encoding'. It allows for '2 in 8th' = 256 characters, which leaves room for Cyrillic and Roman letters in the same text. An older encoding KOI7 was only 128 characters big and could not display as much. KOI8 is used especially for Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian (White Russian), and Bulgarian texts, and they can blend in ASCII characters (= letters known from the USA English alphabet). KOI8 comes in the varieties KOI8-R for Russian and KOI8-U for Ukrainian. Their differences are insignificant.


Apple Macintosh

1. Do you have Cyrillic fonts?

Of course, you cannot view the pages correctly unless you have installed Cyrillic fonts in your Macintosh. Make sure that they are installed!
    If you are not certain which Cyrillic fonts can be used, view my list of compatible fonts.

2. Did you allow your browser to exploit your Cyrillic fonts?

For guidelines, go to my explanation Cyrillifying your web browser.

3. Did you allow the web page author to decide what fonts you should use?

Sometimes, there may be discrepancies of font usage. More often than the opposite, a web page author defines what font he wants the browser to exploit for displaying the HTML documents. Web page authors love to do that in order to take control over your screen. However, their efforts may not always coincide with the fonts you have installed in your computer. To avoid this conflict, you should take full control of the fonts by "using your own fonts, overriding the page specified fonts" in the Preferences/Settings.
In Netscape (the following instructions are for Netscape Communicator 4) go to menu Edit > Preferences. Select Appearance > Fonts. Check Use my fonts, overriding Dynamic Fonts.
    Click OK.

4. Did you set the browser to display the page as Cyrillic?

Make sure that the browser's character settings are for KOI-8.
In Netscape v2 and above, go to Menu > View > Character set > Cyrillic (KOI8-R) [this example is for Netscape 4 through 4.79]
In Microsoft Internet Explorer it should be something similar.

5. Can your browser display Cyrillics at all?

Some world wide web browsers work better than others. In general, I recommend Netscape:

Netscape displays Cyrillic letters correctly (provided you follow the above outlines) from version 3 and ahead. However:
In Macintosh Operating Systems 8.6 and earlier, Netscape should have a maximum version number 4.79.
In Macintosh Operating Systems 9 and later, any Netscape version should work. This may have something to do with Netscape 6-7 being dependent on Apple Language Kit, which is a free installation option for System 9, but not in earlier systems (OS 8.6 and earlier).

Microsoft Internet Explorer requires most often that you have installed Apple Language Kit to display Cyrillics.

Opera for Macintosh used to be a dead end. Version 5 and earlier do not work for Cyrillics, especially if you use System 8.6 and earlier. Probabilities are that version 6 and later will work. Try to set Cyrillics as a default character encoding. This may be awesome if you switch back and forth between Roman and Cyrillic encoded pages, but I don't know any other workaround.

Check out which operating system your Mac can bear to run:
System 7.1 through Mac OS 7.6: Compatibility With Macintosh Computers (AppleCare Document 8970)
Mac OS 8-9 Compatibility With Macintosh Computers (AppleCare Document: 25114)


Microsoft Windows

Most probably you did not install support for East European languages. This is an option when installing Windows (in European languages) on your PC. If you use Windows 3, I cannot give you any clue. For later versions (in this case Windows 95 and 98):

  • Insert your Windows Installation CD-ROM into your computer
  • Go to: Control Panels > Add/Remove Programs.
  • In the Add/Remove Programs Properties window, choose Windows Setup.
  • In the Windows Setup, uncheck all options save Multilanguage Support. Click Details... in order to specify the languages. You should choose all the languages -- just in case. It only takes up 5 MB of hard disk space for all European languages, and it will install all the needed software to display the alphabets.
  • Click OK and OK again.
  • Continue the installation as prompted by Windows. Restart. You're done.

If this has not the desired effect, please proceed to the procedure for Macintoshes above.

Server trouble at www.thau-knudsen.dk

I am experiencing trouble with my server at b  One, which apparently cannot display Cyrillic characters at all. It is the case, if there is written http://www.thau-knudsen.dk in the URL address field of your browser window. Until this problem is solved, please start all over from a suitable mirror site at http://www.thau.tk.
If the address in your browser field does not contain the sequence thau-knudsen.dk, then something else is wrong. Please continue in the left column.

Published first time  March 17, 2003
Updated on December 23, 2003.