How to Set or Change the Time Zone in Linux
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A time zone is a geographic region that has the same standard time. Typically the time zone is set during the installation of the operational system, but it can be easily changed at a later time.
Using the correct time zone is essential for many systems related tasks and processes. For example, the cron daemon uses the system's time zone for executing cron jobs. The time zone is also used for logs timestamps.
This tutorial covers the steps necessary to set or change the time zone in Linux.
Checking the Current Time Zone
timedatectl is a command-line utility that allows you to view and change the system's time and date. It is available on all modern systemd-based Linux systems.
To view the current time zone, invoke the
timedatectl command without any options or arguments:
Local time: Tue 2019-12-03 16:30:44 UTC Universal time: Tue 2019-12-03 16:30:44 UTC RTC time: Tue 2019-12-03 16:30:44 Time zone: Etc/UTC (UTC, +0000) System clock synchronized: no systemd-timesyncd.service active: yes RTC in local TZ: no
The output above shows that the system's time zone is set to UTC.
The system time zone is configured by symlinking the
/etc/localtime file to a binary time zone's identifier in the
Another way to check the time zone is to view the path the symlink points to using the
ls -l /etc/localtime
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 27 Dec 3 16:29 /etc/localtime -> /usr/share/zoneinfo/Etc/UTC
Changing the Time Zone in Linux
Before changing the time zone, you'll need to find out the long name of the time zone you want to use. The time zone naming convention usually uses a “Region/City” format.
To view all available time zones, use the
timedatectl command or list the files in the
... America/Montserrat America/Nassau America/New_York America/Nipigon America/Nome America/Noronha ...
Once you identify which time zone is accurate to your location, run the following command as root or sudo user:
sudo timedatectl set-timezone <your_time_zone>
For example, to change the system's timezone to
America/New_York you would type:
sudo timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York
To verify the change, invoke the
timedatectl command again:
Local time: Tue 2019-12-03 13:55:09 EST Universal time: Tue 2019-12-03 18:55:09 UTC RTC time: Tue 2019-12-03 18:02:16 Time zone: America/New_York (EST, -0500) System clock synchronized: no systemd-timesyncd.service active: yes RTC in local TZ: no
Mission accomplished! You've successfully changed your system's time zone.
Changing the Time Zone by Creating a Symlink
If you are running an older Linux distribution and the
timedatectl utility is not present on your system, you can change the timezone by symlinking
/etc/localtime to the time zone in the
Remove the current symlink or file:
sudo rm -rf /etc/localtime
Identify the timezone you want to configure and create a symlink:
sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
Verify it either by listing the
/etc/localtime file or invoking the
The output includes the time zone, in this example that is “EST”.
Tue Dec 3 14:10:54 EST 2019
To change the time zone in Linux systems use the
sudo timedatectl set-timezone command followed by the long name of the time zone you want to set.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.