Unicode Polytonic Greek for the World Wide Web
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Unicode Polytonic Greek
for the World Wide Web

Version 0.9.7


Windows XP
Windows 2000 and NT
Windows 95, 98, 98 Second Edition, and Millennium Edition
Macintosh OS 8.6, OS 9
Macintosh OS X

Platforms with Support for Unicode

Unicode can be used to create web pages to be read by users with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Macintosh OS X, and some distributions and applications of Linux 2.2.x, 2.4.x, and other Unixes, as well as BeOS 5. 1 Note that when I say that Unicode "works" on a system, I mean only that you can install Unicode fonts and use them in the web browser and some applicatons; of these operating systems, e.g., Windows 9x Unicode support isn't integral to the operating system, so there are kinks. On Mac OS 8.6 and OS 9, though there is a Unicode programming library (ATSUI) which in theory can be utilized to make applications Unicode aware, it is only utilized for polytonic Greek or combinted diacriticals by a very small number of programs, and is not yet utilized by any web browsers; so for all practical purposes, one can ignore the Unicode support in Mac OS 8.6 and OS 9.2

On this page, I've provided information on how to use Unicode in web browsers on Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 2000 (hint: Windows 2000 is easy). On other pages, I have provided more detailed discussion of the browsers and tools that work with these operating systems.

An experimental operating system from Lucent Technologies/Bell Labs, Plan 9 (UNIX-like, but with no UNIX code), also reports supporting Unicode (as its native encoding), but my attempts to install Plan 9 on an old Intel box have not yet succeeded.

In the future, I will provide information in an Appendix on my experiments in using Unicode in Linux, specifically the RedHat 6.2 and 7.0 distributions for Intel x86 boxes and the Mozilla and Konqueror web browsers (if you use another Linux, you should be ble to adapt my suggestions to your own distribution).

In the following table, those operatings systems with full Unicode support are emphasized.

Versions Browsers Other Applications of Note
Windows 2000 and XP NT 4.0, 2000, XP Internet Explorer 4.x, 5.x
Netscape 4.x, 6.0
Mozilla M16-1.1b
SC Unipad
Classical Text Editor
Tavultesoft Keyman

Office 2000
Open Office 1.0?
FrontPage 2000
Mozilla Composer
Windows 9x 95, 98, SE, ME Internet Explorer 4.x, 5.x
Netscape 4.x, 6.x
Mozilla M16-0.9.5
SC Unipad
Classical Text Editor
Tavultesoft Keyman

Office 2000
FrontPage 2000
Mozilla Composer
Macintosh OS 9 OS8.6+, OS9 Browsers provide partial Unicode support, but not Greek extended character set
WorldText editor
Macintosh OS X OS X 10.0, 10.1 OmniWeb 4.0
Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Netscape browsers do not support Greek extended character set (Mozilla/Netscape currently working on adding to future versions)
Linux Gnome Netscape 6.x and 7.x
Mozilla, all versions after M16

Mozilla Composer
Open Office?
Linux KDE Konqueror (KFM 2.0; 1.93 tested)
Netscape 6.x and 7.x
Mozilla, all versions after M16

Mozilla Composer
Open Office?
BSD Unix (cf. Mac OSX) Untested Mozilla reported
Mozilla Composer?
Open Office?
BeOS Version 5 NetPositive; probably Mozilla Mozilla Composer?
Plan 9 Untested Charon?
Palm OS Not supported at this time
Windows CE 3.0 Not tested

BSD UNIX (including FreeBSD)

I have no idea. I would assume that, as there is Unicode support in OS X, there must be some Unicode support in BSD; but the only browser likely to support it is Mozilla.


BeOS is a somewhat UNIX-like operating system designed to provide robust support for multimedia applications (audio and video). BeOS 5 provides relatively full support for the UTF-8 encoding of Unicode. The version of BeOS 5 tested is the Personal Edition, which only provides a 500 MB partition, insufficient for any kind of detailed testing; and I have decided not to pay the money for (or go through the work of partitioning and reformatting a drive for) testing purposes at this time. In particular, the PE partition does not provide enough space for the BeOS distribution of Mozilla.

The native web browser in BeOS 5, NetPositive, is capable of displaying Unicode; however, it does not understand CSS. I have not yet experimented with the deprecated <font face="Unicode Font Name"> "element." I would assume that the use of the font tag will work; however, I have had success by assigning a Unicode font (BeOS provides support for Windows-designed TrueType fonts) to the Unicode, Western, and Greek language selections.

Linux (specifically, Red Hat 6.2 and 7.0 for i386)

My appendix on using Unicode in the browser in Linux is still under development. I've managed to get Mozilla M18 and some later versions to display Unicode Greek in 6.2, both with combining diacriticals (though with artifacts) and with precomposed characters (the latter using Athena). Mozilla 0.8.0 (and presumably 0.8.1) and RedHat 7.0 display Unicode Greek with combining diacriticals out of the box (thanks to XFree86 4.0), but there are artifacts that make for readability issues (the default font of XFree86 isn't able to display combining diacriticals in the same character space as the characters they modify, so there are a lot of extra spaces when you read Greek texts with combining diacriticals in Mozilla on an XFree86 4.0-capable Linux distribution (this may be due to bugs in Mozilla-for-Linux's implementation of CSS1 or CSS2 in a UTF-8 environment). But the Greek is readable). There are other kinks, too.

The KDE web browser/file manager Konqueror reports full Unicode capabilities, within the limitations of the fonts. On a clean install of RedHat 7.0, installing the KDE 1.93 RPMs in the Previews folder of RH7 Disk 2, Konqueror read this page, with polytonic Greek, out of the box.

Another application providing Unicode support for Linux is Yudit, a Unicode text editor. Theoretically, the console and Lynx should be able to provide Unicode support; but I have no reports of any success with experiments in enabling Unicode polytonic Greek support for a terminal emulator or Lynx.

Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Millennium Edition

To view a Unicode document on the web with Windows 9x (and so to create a Unicode document on the web), you have to have a Unicode-capable font and a Unicode-capable browser.

Installing the Fonts

Installing TrueType fonts on Windows is easy. All you have to do is to download the font to an easily accessible folder (for instance, the Desktop). Next, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel (or My Computer > Control Panel in Windows 98) and double-click to open the Fonts folder. Now, holding down the control key, drag the font file into the Fonts folder. This has the effect of copying the font to the folder. The font should appear in the folder window in alphabetical order; right-click on the font and select the Properties to check to make sure it's ok. Your font should now be accessible to almost every Windows application, including the web browsers.

Installing the Browser

The earlier versions of Windows 95 came with Internet Explorer 3.0, which is not an effective Unicode browser. Later versions, and Windows 98, came with Internet Explorer 4.0. Windows 98 SE comes with Internet Explorer 5.0, and Windows Me comes with Internet Explorer 5.5. Internet Explorer is preinstalled on Windows 9x/Me versions; in fact, Internet Explorer is merely a specialized instance of the main Window manager, Windows Explorer. What this means is that if you have Windows 98/Se/Me, you don't have to do anything to install a Unicode-capable browser: there's one in the operating system. It also means that Internet Explorer will work faster than Netscape 4.7x, Netscape 6, or Mozilla (or any other browser, for that matter) because it loads when the operating system loads and doesn't have any boundaries with the operating system to deal with. (Of course, this has a number of interesting consequences in the field of antitrust law, but this isn't the place to go into them here. Suffice it to say that philosophically, I prefer open source software). These facts, and the usability and greater standards support relative to Netscape 4.x (but not relative to Netscape 6 and it's sibling Mozilla), make Internet Explorer the preferred web browser for current Windows users.

For those of you who do prefer Netscape products, you may already have a version of Netscape capable of reading Unicode Polytonic Greek: Netscape 4.x (which is to say, Netscape 4.0, 4.5, 4.6, and 4.7). If you have a version of Netscape higher than 4.5, you should be relatively ok. If you don't, consider upgrading to Netscape 4.76 or Netscape 6.

If you do prefer Netscape products but have a version of Netscape earlier than 4.5, I would strongly suggest that you download Netscape 4.76. If you're adventurous, try Netscape 6.1: though still a work in progress, it is now stable enough for everyday use. You can go to the Netscape website and click the "Download" link to download the latest versions of Netscape (6.0 was released on 14 November 2000).

With all the versions of Netscape after 4.5, all you need to view webpages in Unicode is the main browser.

Finally, you can install Mozilla, the open source browser upon which Netscape is based, currently being developed by Netscape in cooperation with an open-source community, by downloading the installation version (installer.exe) for Windows from http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/release-notes/. Note, though, that Mozilla is beta-quality software - it is more advanced than Netscape 6, and lacks some of the annoying bells and whistles (like AOL Instant Messenger, though it does have the e-mail and composer clients), but it is less stable, and each daily build introduces new features and new bugs. Mozilla is not for the faint of heart.


Because Unicode support isn't completely integrated into Windows 95 and Windows 98, there are a number of limitations. First, you can't use Unicode in a DOS console (MS-DOS window). Second, there's no consistency in the use of Unicode in input boxes. I've managed to search for τις in AltaVista by copying the word from this page and pasting it into the search box - I could read "tis" in the search box when I had the Unicode encoding set as default in Internet Explorer 5.5 until I clicked the submit button, but on the results page I got what looked like another encoding without a Greek font. I don't actually know if the search worked because the pages that resulted didn't use the Unicode encoding. For now, it is best to assume that you can't use Unicode in input boxes. Nor does the Unicode encoding work for me in the <title> element of a web page or anywhere else pure character data is required.

 Unicode Polytonic Greek for the World Wide Web Version 0.9.7
 Copyright © 1998-2002 Patrick Rourke. All rights reserved.
D R A F T - Under Development
 Please do not treat this as a published work until it is finished!
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