How to Get Current Date and Time on Linux

Get Current Date and Time on Linux

In the ever-evolving landscape of computing, precision and accuracy remain paramount. For Linux system administrators and enthusiasts, accurate time management is not just essential; it’s a fundamental requirement. The Linux command line offers a plethora of tools and utilities to effortlessly obtain the current date and time. This comprehensive guide will walk you through various methods, providing detailed step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting tips, and additional resources for a holistic understanding of this crucial aspect of Linux system administration.

Linux systems often require accurate date and time information for various tasks, including log management, task scheduling, and synchronization with external systems. Leveraging the command line interface to access this information not only streamlines the process but also empowers users with flexibility and precision.

In this guide, we’ll explore several methods to get the current date and time on Linux, each serving distinct purposes. We’ll start with the basics and gradually delve into advanced techniques, ensuring that users of all skill levels can benefit from this resource.

Checking the Date and Time with ‘date’ Command

Basic Usage of ‘date’ Command

The ‘date’ command is the Swiss Army knife for retrieving date and time information on Linux. To start, open your terminal and type:


This command will display the current date and time in the default format. The output might look something like this:

Mon Sep 5 15:45:12 EDT 2023

To display just the current date or time, use the following commands:

  • To display the current date:
date +"%Y-%m-%d"

Output: 2023-09-05

  • To display the current time:
date +"%H:%M:%S"

Output: 15:45:12

Customizing the Date and Time Format

You can customize the date and time format according to your preferences using format codes. Here are some commonly used format codes:

  • %Y: Year (e.g., 2023)
  • %m: Month (01-12)
  • %d: Day of the month (01-31)
  • %H: Hour (00-23)
  • %M: Minute (00-59)
  • %S: Second (00-59)

To create a custom format, combine these codes within double quotation marks, as shown earlier. For instance, to display the date as “05-Sep-2023,” you can use:

date +"%d-%b-%Y"

Output: 05-Sep-2023

Displaying the Date and Time in a Different Timezone

By default, the ‘date’ command displays date and time information based on your system’s timezone settings. However, you can easily view the date and time in a different timezone using the TZ environment variable. For example, to view the current time in New York (Eastern Time), use:

TZ="America/New_York" date

Output: Mon Sep 5 15:45:12 EDT 2023

Using ‘hwclock’ to Access Hardware Clock Information

The ‘hwclock‘ command provides access to the hardware clock (also known as the Real-Time Clock or RTC) on your Linux system. The hardware clock maintains time even when the system is powered off.

Checking the Hardware Clock’s Time

To view the hardware clock’s time, simply run:


This command will display the time in the default format. If you want to display it in a specific format, you can use the --show flag along with the format string, similar to the ‘date’ command:

hwclock --show --format="%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"

Output: 2023-09-05 15:45:12

Synchronizing the Hardware Clock with System Time

To ensure the hardware clock is synchronized with the system time, you can use the --systohc flag with ‘hwclock.’ This is particularly useful when your system clock drifts or when switching between different operating systems on a multi-boot system.

hwclock --systohc

This command will update the hardware clock to match the current system time.

Setting the Hardware Clock from System Time

Conversely, you can set the hardware clock from the system time using the --hctosys flag. This is helpful if the hardware clock becomes inaccurate and needs correction.

hwclock --hctosys

This command will update the system time based on the current hardware clock.

Utilizing ‘timedatectl’ for Comprehensive Time Management

timedatectl‘ is a powerful tool that goes beyond displaying and setting the date and time. It allows you to manage time-related settings on your Linux system with precision.

Displaying System Time and Timezone Information

To view the system’s current date, time, and timezone information, use:


This command will provide detailed information, including the local time, universal time (UTC), and the currently set timezone.

Setting the System Time and Timezone

timedatectl‘ makes it easy to set the system time and timezone. To set the date and time, use the set-time option followed by the desired time in the format “YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS.”

sudo timedatectl set-time "2023-09-05 15:45:12"

To set the timezone, use the set-timezone option followed by the timezone name. For example:

sudo timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York

Enabling or Disabling Automatic Time Synchronization

‘timedatectl’ also enables you to manage automatic time synchronization using NTP (Network Time Protocol). To enable automatic synchronization, use:

sudo timedatectl set-ntp true

To disable it, use:

sudo timedatectl set-ntp false

Checking the NTP (Network Time Protocol) Status

To check the status of NTP synchronization, use:

timedatectl show --property=NTP

This will display whether NTP synchronization is active or not.

Finding Date and Time Information in Log Files

Log files are treasure troves of date and time information, critical for troubleshooting and system monitoring. Let’s explore how to extract and manipulate time-related data from log files using the command line.

Examples of Log Files Containing Date and Time Information

Log files can be found in various locations on a Linux system. Some common log files include:

  • /var/log/syslog: System log
  • /var/log/auth.log: Authentication log
  • /var/log/nginx/access.log: Nginx web server access log
  • /var/log/apache2/access.log: Apache web server access log
  • /var/log/mail.log: Mail server log

Using Command Line Utilities to Extract Time Information from Logs

To extract date and time information from log files, you can use command line utilities like ‘grep‘ and ‘awk.’ For instance, to find all log entries from a specific date, use:

grep 'Sep 5' /var/log/syslog

This command will display all log entries from September 5th.

Filtering and Formatting Log Data for Readability

For more complex log analysis, ‘awk‘ is a versatile tool. You can use ‘awk‘ to filter and format log data based on specific criteria. For example, to display only the timestamps and log messages from the syslog file, use:

awk '{print $1 " " $2 " " $3 " " $4 " " $5 " " $6 " " $7}' /var/log/syslog


Efficiently managing the current date and time on Linux is crucial for various tasks, from system administration to application development. This guide has equipped you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the Linux command line effectively and handle date and time-related operations with confidence.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced Linux user, these methods, utilities, and scripting techniques provide you with a versatile toolkit to meet your time management needs. From the simplicity of the ‘date‘ command to the precision of ‘timedatectl‘.

So, go ahead and explore, experiment, and master the art of Linux time management. Your system will thank you for it.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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