The Plan 9 character set and representation are
based on the Unicode Standard and on the ISO multibyte
UTF-8 encoding (Universal Character
Set Transformation Format, 8 bits wide).
The Unicode Standard represents its characters in 16
UTF-8 represents such
values in an 8-bit byte stream.
Throughout this manual,
UTF-8 is shortened to
In Plan 9, a
rune is a 16-bit quantity representing a Unicode character.
Internally, programs may store characters as runes.
However, any external manifestation of textual information,
in files or at the interface between programs, uses a
machine-independent, byte-stream encoding called
UTF is designed so the 7-bit
ASCII set (values hexadecimal 00 to 7F),
appear only as themselves
in the encoding.
Runes with values above 7F appear as sequences of two or more
bytes with values only from 80 to FF.
UTF encoding of the Unicode Standard is backward compatible with
programs presented only with
ASCII work on Plan 9
even if not written to deal with
UTF, as do
programs that deal with uninterpreted byte streams.
However, programs that perform semantic processing on
characters must convert from
UTF to runes
in order to work properly with non-
Letting numbers be binary,
a rune x is converted to a multibyte
01. x in [00000000.0bbbbbbb] → 0bbbbbbb
10. x in [00000bbb.bbbbbbbb] → 110bbbbb, 10bbbbbb
11. x in [bbbbbbbb.bbbbbbbb] → 1110bbbb, 10bbbbbb, 10bbbbbb
Conversion 01 provides a one-byte sequence that spans the
ASCII character set in a compatible way.
Conversions 10 and 11 represent higher-valued characters
as sequences of two or three bytes with the high bit set.
Plan 9 does not support the 4, 5, and 6 byte sequences proposed by X-Open.
When there are multiple ways to encode a value, for example rune 0,
the shortest encoding is used.
In the inverse mapping,
any sequence except those described above
is incorrect and is converted to rune hexadecimal 0080.