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I usually choose English as an installation language since I believe that the original is better than the translation. However, the environment I'm working in is mostly Russian, so I have to deal with locale specificity.

Even worse is the fact that selecting English yields to royal measurement system, that is, feet, inches, and damned letter paper size. Whatever I do, I didn't manage to get rid of letter paper size - eventually here and there I stumble upon letter as a hidden default, and that spoils my prints.

How can I select and use English as my language, but use metric system everywhere and a4 paper size everywhere, and Russian regional settings (date, time, decimal etc).

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you execute locale you can see the language variables that are used for various sections of the operating system:


More about locale variables in the gettext manual: Locale Environment Variables - GNU `gettext' utilities

You can export these variables e.g. export LC_PAPER="ru_RU.UTF-8" - this will make a temporary change.

If you want to make it permanent you can change the regional formats using gnome-language-selector. Or you can add the export command in ~/.profile and/or ~/.bashrc

For the papersize, I found that you can edit /etc/papersize - change "letter" to "a4". You might also need to set export LC_PAPER="en_GB.UTF_8" (or maybe export LC_PAPER="ru_RU.UTF_8" if ru_RU defaults to A4)

Source: Question #6846 : Questions : “evince” package : Ubuntu

P.S. Personally I use en_GB (English / United Kingdom) for everything since it uses the SI metric system instead of American English and US units.

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Problem is that /etc/papersize works only for those programs that use libpaper or read and honor it. For example, OpenOffice ignores this file. Also, gnome-language-selector is only relevant to gnome environment. – mbaitoff Apr 7 '12 at 10:55
1. Fair enough, but I believe I gave alternatives. 2. I don't know about OpenOffice, does this happen with LibreOffice too? 3. Maybe there's no way to set it in *Office, but there was no feature request about locale paper size support. Have you filed a bug/feature request upstream? 4. Instead of gnome-language-selector you can set your locale-related variables in ~/.profile /etc/profile or /etc/environment if the profile files don't do the trick. 5. gnome-language-selector works in gnome 2/3 and unity AFAIK. You could mention which desktop manager you use. :) – medigeek Apr 11 '12 at 23:26
All 1-4 agreed. As for 5: since Unity and since gnome2 is no more, I prefer using xfce/lxde. – mbaitoff Apr 14 '12 at 5:43
@mbaitoff editing /etc/default/locale did the trick for me – Alexander Malakhov Mar 28 '13 at 4:14
@mbaitoff: I had a single line in it LANG="en_US.UTF-8", and all other settings defaulted to that locale. The only thing I wanted different was weeks to start from monday (not sunday). So I added LC_TIME="en_GB.UTF-8" (I didn't have Russian locale installed). All parameters' names should be the same as what you get from locale command. Or you can just try en_GB locale (change LANG value) as medigeek suggests. – Alexander Malakhov Apr 1 '13 at 2:42

Whatever I do, I didn't manage to get rid of letter paper size - eventually here and there I stumble upon letter as a hidden default, and that spoils my prints.

There are 2 locale settings. Settings of whole system and settings of LibreOffice.

1) Please find option Language Support in your OS. There will be 2 tabs: 1st - Language; 2nd - Regional formats. It is setting for currency, number and date format in Russian. Let choose Russian than click Apply System-Wide button. Reboot or restart.

2) LibreOffice have own locale/size settnigs. In LibreOffice menu: Tools → Options → Language settings → Languages → Locale settings → Russian. Also! Tools → Options → LibreOffice → General → Measurement unit → cm (instead inch)

Reboot or restart LibreOffice.

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