The sort order in my Xubuntu file manager (Thunar) is the way I want it, with types of characters in the following order:

  • non alphanumeric (principally: underscore, hyphen, dot)
  • numerics
  • alphabetics (lowercase, uppercase, and accented characters treated as equal)

When I OPEN an existing file or "SAVE AS" a file in any program, the file/directory listing window puts all of the uppercase characters together, before the lowercase ones. Now with the research I have done I know that the unwanted (by me) lower/uppercase treatment is due to LC_COLLATE=C. I chose 'C' because of the separation it gives between alphanumerics and the other characters, but I don't want lower/uppercase to be separated.

What I don't know is 1) how come this lower/uppercase treatment does not happen in my regular Thunar display, 2) why there is this discrepancy between the OPEN/SAVE behavior and the regular Thunar.

Here is my "locale" output:


I'm on Xubuntu 14.04.5 LTS.

Thank you.

  • Because those dialogues are iimplemented by each program individually, not through file browser. Mar 11, 2016 at 22:44
  • Ok Serg, this answers 2) but what about 1) how come Thunar does not segregate upper/lowercase characters like setting LC_COLLATE=C should do? (Ironically I prefer the way it is now, but I'd like to understand.) Also, aren't there ways that installed programs typically make use of OS settings/parameters? The "locale" values affect more than just the file manager.
    – hockeykong
    Mar 12, 2016 at 0:18
  • As you seem to have figured out, the sort order in some (most?) programs is determined by the locale stated for LC_COLLATE. Probably Thunar has defined its own sort order. Possibly some of all the available locales fit your specification, but don't ask me which locales do. ;) Mar 12, 2016 at 0:20
  • @GunnarHjalmarsson according to this comment, LC_COLLATE doesn't "work" in Ubuntu 14.04: askubuntu.com/questions/47702/…
    – DK Bose
    Mar 14, 2016 at 6:32
  • Hadn't heard, and can't reproduce (on 15.10). Wonder what the source of that is. Mar 14, 2016 at 10:23

1 Answer 1


Ok, well nothing new since Gunnar Hjalmarsson posted on March 14.

The answer has two parts:

1) when open/save with a program, the program itself chooses how it sorts the files shown, potentially ignoring the user's choice of sort type

2) LC_COLLATE is somehow broken in Ubuntu 14.04.

I, the original poster, did not really answer anything. I just want closure. 1) was answered by @Serg 2) was answered by @Gunnar

For those who know more than me, please make the appropriate edits and give whatever points where they belong. Thank you.

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