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How can I change the language order by command-line (or text editor)? i.e. without using the graphical "gnome-language-selector".

(Or is there a better GUI which allows you to select multiple language entries and move them all to another position directly, without having to do it one by one?)

Alternatively: Where are the user-specific language settings stored? i.e. the /etc/default/locale for users.

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List installed locales

locale -a

List current settings


Changing settings temporarily

Any environment variable may be set on the command line for the current process:

$ date
Sat May 14 15:59:12 CEST 2011

$ LC_TIME=zh_CN.UTF-8 

$ date
2011年 05月 14日 星期六 16:00:13 CEST 2011

Changing settings permanently

If you want more fine-grained control, you may manually change your system's locale entries by modifying the file /etc/default/locale.

For example on a German system, to prevent system messages from being translated, you may use:


Note: changes take effect only after a fresh login.

For Additional Hhelp

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While this is very interesting (especially LC_MESSAGES), it does not really answer my question. I want to change the settings for one user, not system-wide. More precisely, I want to see+set the order of used languages (as listed in gnome-language-selector) for one user. (also without using .bash* files as it does not seem to be stored in them) – KIAaze Mar 29 '12 at 20:44
i m also in search of it .... so most probably i will update my answer in 2 hours – One Zero Mar 29 '12 at 20:47

You probably have a line in your ~/.profile file that looks similar to:

export LANGUAGE="ca_ES:en_GB:en"

Obviously the list of languages will probably be different for you.

That is the file that the language selector UI writes to, so if you want to add more languages and change the order manually, you can edit that file with a text editor. All changes will affect the current user only.

In any case, I'd still recommend using the GUI tools to modify languages, rather than doing it manually, which is very much error-prone.

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