If you have a reasonably new version of Emacs, and a reasonably new version of Linux (at most a couple of years old), then things usually just work. However, if you have changed any settings yourself (like adding prefer-coding-system or set-language-environment to your .emacs), then they might not. Try commenting out such settings in your .emacs and see what happens.
You can try the following:
- Check which coding system your emacs is using. Do so by going to Help -> Describe -> Describe Coding Systems (or Ctrl-h C) and then press <RET>
- If the coding system is not utf-8 try adding the following to your configuration file for emacs
(prefer-coding-system ‘utf-8) (set-default-coding-systems ‘utf-8) (set-terminal-coding-system ‘utf-8) (set-keyboard-coding-system ‘utf-8)
Observe that your LANG variable could be set to utf-8 but emacs could be using other coding system