I do not understand why rxvt-unicode doesn't display some Unicode characters correctly such as or while is displayed correctly. These symbols are replaced by a little box as you can see in the screenshot:screenshot

Here's my locale:


And here my .Xresources:

URxvt.font: xft:Ubuntu Mono:size=11:antialias=true:hinting=true  
URxvt.letterSpace: -2  
URxvt.lineSpace: -2  
URxvt.scrollKey: true  
URxvt.depth: 32  
URxvt.loginShell: true  
URxvt.geometry: 100x30  
URxvt.saveLines: 10000  
URxvt.cutchars: "`\"'&()*,:;<=>?[\\]^{|}$"  
URxvt.scrollBar: false  
URxvt.visualBell: true  ```

These symbols are displayed correctly in gnome-terminal. Suggestions from google are not ubuntu-related and they all suggest to add .utf-8 to locale, which I already have in my settings. If you can help me in any way it would be awesome, this problem is really bugging me!

1 Answer 1


The screenshot is virtually unreadable due to lack of color contrast, but it seems that the reason for the problem is simply that the font being used does not contain glyphs for the characters ☁ or ☂. A little box is typically the way programs indicate the presence of a character that has been recognized but cannot be displayed due to lack of a glyph.

This explanation sounds problematic, because xrvt FAQ says: “When rxvt-unicode sees a character, it will first look at the base font. If the base font does not contain the character, it will go to the next font, and so on.” So it should find a glyph if any available font contains it. But presumably this process goes wrong, e.g. because character repertoire information in some font is faulty (a font may say it supports a character but lacks a glyph for it). Testing with different base font settings may help to identify the problem.

  • You're right, I've tested with Monospace and those glyphs are displayed. I didn't tested other fonts before, because Ubuntu Mono works perfectly in GVIM and gnome-terminal. Is there any possibility to set a fallback font for those glyphs?
    – random.cpp
    Jul 3, 2013 at 7:28
  • 1
    Ok I found this workaround that does the trick: URxvt.font: xft:Ubuntu Mono:size=11,xft:Monospace:size=9:antialias=true:hinting=true I set Ubuntu Mono as first font and Monospace as fallback, I had to set different sizes though.. Thanks for your help
    – random.cpp
    Jul 3, 2013 at 7:54

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