HowTo: Linux Server Change OR Setup The Timezone

by on August 27, 2006 · 60 comments· LAST UPDATED November 5, 2012

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My Linux systems timezone is pointing to the wrong timezone. How do I setup or change the timezone under Linux operating systems?

Unix time, or POSIX time, is a system for describing points in time: it is the number of seconds elapsed since midnight UTC on the morning of January 1, 1970, not counting leap seconds. The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. You can use the following commands:
Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesYes
RequirementsNone
Estimated completion timeN/A

[a] setup or redhat-config-date for RHEL based distros.

[b] dpkg-reconfigure tzdata for Debian based distros.

[c] ln command - Generic method for all other distros.

Command to change the Linux timezone

You need to type the following commands as per your Linux distribution.

If you are using Fedora / RHEL / Cent OS Linux

Type the redhat-config-date command at the command line to start the time and date properties tool, run:
# redhat-config-date
OR type setup and select time zone configuration. This tool is recommended for remote ssh text based sessions.
# setup
Select timezone configuration

Fig.01: Redhat / CentOS Server Setting Up Timezone

Fig.01: Redhat / CentOS Server Setting Up Timezone


Just follow on screen instructions to change the timezone.

If you are using Debian / Ubuntu Linux

To change the timezone for you run the following command as root user:
# dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
Again, just follow on screen instructions.

Set timezone using /etc/localtime configuration file [any Linux distro]

Often /etc/localtime is a symlink to the file localtime or to the correct time zone file in the system time zone directory.

Generic procedure to change timezone under Linux

Cd to /etc, run:
# cd /etc
Create a symlink to file localtime:
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/EST localtime
OR some distro use /usr/share/zoneinfo/dirname/zonefile format (Red hat and friends):
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/EST localtime
OR if you want to set up it to IST (Asia/Calcutta):
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Calcutta localtime
Please note that in above example you need to use directory structure i.e. if you want to set the timezone to Calcutta (India) which is located in the Asia directory.

How do I verify new settings?

Use the date command to verify that your timezone is changed:
$ date
Output:

Tue Aug 27 14:46:08 EST 2006

How do I use of environment variable called TZ?

You can use TZ environment variable to display date and time according to your timezone:
$ export TZ=America/Los_Angeles
$ date

Sample Output:

Thu Aug 27 11:10:08 PST 2006
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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 vijay December 20, 2006 at 8:19 am

Great Info

Reply

2 Lars November 19, 2007 at 6:51 am

On Ubuntu you can do

tzconfig

to select and set the time zone.
(tzconfig copies the right time zone file from /usr/share/zoneinfo to /etc/localtime and puts the name of the timezone into /etc/timezone)

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3 Kashif February 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

tzconfig is deprecated, use without “dpkg-reconfigure tzdata”

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4 Kashif February 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

Opps! I mean use without quotes :-)

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5 Rich June 18, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Counterintuitively, you should not symlink, only ever copy timezone data files. This is because some programs might attempt to alter /etc/localtime. Before you make a change, notice that /etc/localtime is a regular file.

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6 Andy Bach November 3, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Note – you’re missing an ‘e’ on the end of:
Create a symlink to file localtime:
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/EST localtim

a

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7 nixCraft November 4, 2008 at 7:34 am

Andy,

Thanks for pointing out a typo. The faq has been updated.

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8 Ral November 4, 2008 at 6:24 pm

I don’t get to change the TZ. I cann’t install the tzconfig. I have Ubuntu 8.04. What is wrong ?

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9 php trivandrum November 10, 2008 at 1:52 am

Hey.. thanks.. it saved my life..

Reply

10 am December 2, 2008 at 9:33 am

[root@ps2844 ~]# date
Tue Dec 2 10:19:11 UTC 2008

Using the “setup” command, I selected timezone as Asia/Calcutta, and did not check the UTC box. But the time zone does not change.

[root@ps2844 ~]# setup
[root@ps2844 ~]# date
Tue Dec 2 10:20:26 UTC 2008

Also, I did the sym-link for localtime, but without help.

[root@ps2844 ~]# ls -l /etc/localtime
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 33 Dec 2 10:16 /etc/localtime -> /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Calcutta

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11 R.H. Hartman January 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm

On CentOS5, the command is system-config-date. Likely on CentOS4 and earlier as well. Probably related to removing all branding from the upstream vendor’s sources.

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12 yemurai February 20, 2009 at 4:26 am

Thanks! (system-config-date) That worked.

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13 adityo April 30, 2009 at 5:23 am

use tzselect for ubuntu gutsy

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14 MANOJ PARMAR June 3, 2009 at 2:43 am

1.Iam having a linux virtual machine running apache server in RHEL4.4. Iam facing a problem that everyday in the morning I had to change its date and time . It is always running 12hrs back.

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15 Nate Cummings January 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Use an NTP cronjob to update your time

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16 MANOJ PARMAR June 3, 2009 at 2:48 am

1. iam also facing problem in RHJEL 5.2 virtualization. Iam having one host machine installed with RHEL 5.2. Iam also running 03 Server Virtually on it. But via network i can access virtual machine but not the host machine. Many tinme I had to restart the network service but after some time the problem exist. The service is also put under chkconfig.

2. Iam having a linux virtual machine running apache server in RHEL4.4. Iam facing a problem that everyday in the morning I had to change its date and time . It is always running 12hrs back.

Reply

17 Mark Finch June 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Thanks a lot. This really helped me.

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18 Andreas July 1, 2009 at 8:38 am

On CactiEZ 0.6 (based on CentOS) the command is ‘tzselect’ too.
No more system-config-date or ‘config’

cheers

Reply

19 Irisha Stacy August 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Slackware dudes, use tzselect;

Or simply create a symbolic link called

/etc/localtime

from the suitable zones resides in /usr/share/zone

God bless god,

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20 Kamal September 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

Thanks buddy, it helped me a lot!!

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21 Jan October 31, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Does anybody know what can be done on SUSE if this does not work for some TZ? UTC works for example, but setting to Europe/Berlin or GB does not. These give back an empty value when using

date +%Z

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22 Justin November 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm

RHEL 5 is also using tzselect as the command name.

Reply

23 Martin January 5, 2010 at 1:34 am

OH MY GAD! Thank you for this article. I searched a long time to find this solution that finally worked. I use proxmox and this was the only thing that did it.

Reply

24 devkumar March 28, 2010 at 11:57 am

Thanks budy ,
I have same issue which has been resolved with help of you guys

Reply

25 syed khalid April 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

Hai…
My Hp-ux server showing wrong time …so how can i change it…
hp-ux server:HP-UX B.11.11 U 9000/800 941485843 unlimited-user license
and if i change hp-ux server is it change in oracle database also..

Reply

26 Chandan April 23, 2010 at 4:11 am

Hello,

How to change the TimeZone of the server based in London but it has same TZ as Paris.
We have Linux server.
Using command line and which files to be modified.

Can any one help me out for the above.

Reply

27 Adam Monsen July 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

FYI, on Ubuntu 10.04, I also thought it was necessary to manually maintain /etc/localtime, /etc/timezone and friends to change to Asia/Calcutta. But I noticed when running “dpkg-reconfigure tzdata” that Asia/Kolkata does show up, and this is the same city/timezone. redhat-config-date might do something similar, I don’t know.

/usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Calcutta and /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Kolkata point to the same inode on my system.

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28 Mohamed Yusuf July 28, 2010 at 8:34 am

It works. Thanks a lot.

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29 Hariharan Madhavan July 31, 2010 at 6:43 am

Thanks a bunch. I found this extremely useful to set my Server time to Indian TimeZone.

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30 yogesh August 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm

It worked thanks a lot

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31 Luis September 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm

using fedora… “rm /etc/localtime” first and then make the link , worked for me.

Now amsn works fine and my local time now its right.

thx a lot.

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32 Jane January 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I mistakenly typed in date -u now it always shows date in UTC time, everytime I type date. I want the date to revert back to showing PST time when I type date.
How do I revert back for date to just PST time agan.

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33 Hugo January 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Don’t use “system-config-date” if you have build the symbolic link like

[root zoneinfo]# ls -l /etc/localtime
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 23 Jan 20 13:43 /etc/localtime -> /usr/share/zoneinfo/GMT

It could corrupt your original file “/usr/share/zoneinfo/GMT”

I was puzzling weeks on it to find out that my original files were corrupted.
I got that hint from another thread out there.

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34 jdros February 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

For Debian/Ubuntu, you have to edit

/etc/timezone

:

  • use
    dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

    , or

  • browse to
    /usr/share/zoneinfo/

    and locate your city in (relative) directory/file tree, i.e. Europe/Athens; put this exact string in

    /etc/timezone

    .

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35 padil March 3, 2011 at 6:58 am

dear

I tried to configure timezone on CentOS with VMware,

ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Jakarta /etc/localtime

and the results were successful, but there are differences in time with my computer. I am confused where lies the problem, please help, thx before

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36 cmyster March 15, 2011 at 9:58 am

In Arch, simply edit /etc/rc.conf and modify TIMEZONE.
it sould be the relative path to the zoneinfo file in /usr/share/zoneinfo
for example to set your local time to New York:
> cd /usr/share/zoneinfo/
> find . -name New_York
./America/New_York

now edit rc.conf:
TIMEZONE=”America/New_York”

Reply

37 Pragnesh April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

I want it to work for ‘UBUNTU’.
Please help.

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38 Basil April 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

So after I use the /etc/localtime method sure if I type date the response from date is in the right timezone, but what about every running task, they are still using the old timezone. examples are crontab, mysqld, etc… obviously booting the system does ensure everything changes over, and cycling crontab for example fixes it, but is their a easy way to sync all without an outage.

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39 Mohamed ibrahim May 30, 2011 at 4:24 am

Dear Vijay,
My Linux mechines are running under vmware server. My server time is changed every day. I reset my time every date with date -s command. But my windows mechines are running good. Time variation between linux and windows varied. Every day morning my clock shows 09:00 o clock but my server shows 09:50 or 10:00 or 10:03…. How do i set my linux box time constantly

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40 frank June 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

can you help change time zone for linux suse

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41 asdf August 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

suse: use yast

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42 Rangalal Gamage August 26, 2011 at 9:21 am

It works for ubuntu/kubuntu also. Thanks a lot.

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43 Chris September 1, 2011 at 4:42 am

Thanks! The ln method worked fine on FC14.
I noticed that some things (httpd) do not pick up the change until restarted.

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44 krusha October 14, 2011 at 4:40 am

Hi,

I running shell script in Ec2-amazon web service.I dont want to change the time zone of server rather wanted to know with some command if I can get IST time.By default it shows UTC .I think if we pass some parameter with date command ,it should work. Please help me out .

Reply

45 pravinthali December 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

really a valuable information……………Thanks for that piece.

Reply

46 littleguy January 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Setting timezone via /etc/localtime worked fine in CentOS 6!

Reply

47 Robin March 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Are restarts usually required for any Linux distro for the timezone change to
truly occur?

Reply

48 seachen March 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm

i use Malaysia time zone.

how to change it to MYT?

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49 Mark May 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

I just wanted to shed some light on troubleshooting a time setting issue when rebooting.

The /etc/rc.sysinit file sets the system time (on bootup) based on the settings in /etc/sysconfig/clock. If UTC is set to true, it will set the system time based on this command:

hwclock --utc --hctosys

If “hwclock –utc” shows a different time than “date”, that may mean the hardware clock is set using local time instead of UTC.

# hwclock --utc
Wed 23 May 2012 09:04:55 AM GMT-3  -0.970446 seconds
# date
Wed May 23 06:05:01 GMT-3 2012
# hwclock
Wed 23 May 2012 06:06:49 AM GMT-3  -0.392815 seconds

So you can clearly see that the time is set using local time and not UTC.

Here is the step by step fix:
1. login to server
2. type “date” to check the date/timezone
3. type “setup” and then choose “Timezone Configuration” to choose the correct timezone (GMT -3)
4. type “date” to check if it took
5. if time is incorrect, type “date MMDDhhmm” (ex. date 05230416)
6. change UTC=false in /etc/sysconfig/clock
7. sync hardware clock “hwclock –systohc”

I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me.

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50 Ed Greenberg June 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

It’s a good idea to restart syslog after changing the timezone, so it picks up the change.

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51 Ebad June 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

For CentoS timezone select command: tzselect

Reply

52 sandeep November 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Hi Vivek,

You are written “Please mote that” instead of “Please note that” :)

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53 en January 28, 2013 at 8:50 am

Thank you! Worked well with Ubuntu 12.04. Had to restart apache2 and rsyslog (as noted in an earlier comment).

Reply

54 vanarp February 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

you always have the solution ready for all my linux related problems. this site really empowers me to self-manage my budget vps without having to pay $$$.

Reply

55 abu April 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

Great Info!

Reply

56 Nikhil June 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

Thank You :) This is very useful…

Reply

57 Ikram Ali July 9, 2013 at 6:07 am

Good Info column…Thanks to creator

Reply

58 Asle August 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

On my Centos 5.9 the command is:
tzselect

I do not see any config alternative when I type “setup” and the command “redhat-config-date” is not on my system. But “tzselect” does the job.

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59 Status August 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

The timezone I need to change is for the virtual server.
Do I need to change the timezone for the parent server as well to make the timestamp consistent throughout the log files in rhel virtual server?

Reply

60 Olaf Schwartzkopf April 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

A very big help. Thank you!

Reply

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