Sam Stelfox

Thoughts from a systems hacker and developer.

Setting Linux System Timezone

I change the timezone on the linux systems so rarely that I almost always have to look it up. I'm writing it up here for my own personal reference. With any luck it'll also help others.

The system timezone is controlled by the /etc/localtime file and is generally symlinked to locale files stored in /usr/share/zoneinfo. Generally I like to keep my systems on UTC as I my machines are in several timezones and it makes all the logs have consistent times.

To set the system time to UTC you'd run the following command as root:

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/UTC /etc/localtime

Other timezones can be found in the /usr/share/zoneinfo and are generally broken up by continent with a few exceptions.

As a user it's obviously more useful to see the time in my local timezone and this can be overridden on a per-user basis using the TZ environment variable. I stick this in my ~/.bashrc file and it just works transparently:

export TZ="America/Los_Angeles"