HowTo: Linux Server Change OR Setup The Timezone

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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:

[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

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

63 comment

  1. 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)

  2. 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.

  3. [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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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..

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

      .

  13. 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

  14. 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”

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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 .

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. i have issue am using Linux dd 3.16.0-49-generic #65~14.04.1-Ubuntu SMP Wed Sep 9 10:03:23 UTC 2015 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

    time keep changing even i put timezone to asia as my current time and it keep changing +1 day every second it gives me new time !!

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