Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a strange behavior on my linux box and i want your advice. I want to capture the output of this command

ls -log /some/directory 

Running command from command line the result is OK:

-rw-r--r--. 1 22650880 2013-09-09 12:02 file1.txt
-rwxr--r--. 1 20733952 2012-07-09 17:42 file2.txt
-rw-r--r--. 1 31596544 2013-09-09 23:42 file3.txt
-rw-r--r--. 1 15773696 2013-09-10 11:15 file4.txt

so my final result using awk ( ls -log /some/directory| awk '{print $6","$4" "$5}' | tr "\n" ";" ):

file1.txt,2013-09-09 12:02;file2.txt,2012-07-09 17:42;... 

My problem appear when I put ls command in a Bash script, because the date is converted. Instead of 2013-09-10 11:15 the result is Sep 09 12:02

How can i get the date like in command line output?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The output of ls depends on the LANG environment. From info ls:

By default, file timestamps are listed in abbreviated form. Most locales use a timestamp like 2002-03-30 23:45'. However, the default POSIX locale uses a date likeMar 30 2002' for non-recent timestamps, and a date-without-year and time like `Mar 30 23:45' for recent timestamps.

Compare these two variants:

$ LANG=C ls -log
total 0
-rw-r--r--  1 0 Sep 10 10:34 file1
-rw-r--r--  1 0 Sep 10 10:34 file2
-rw-r--r--  1 0 Sep 10 10:34 file3
-rw-r--r--  1 0 Sep 10 10:34 file4

$ LANG=en_US.utf8 ls -log
total 0
-rw-r--r--  1 0 2013-09-10 10:34 file1
-rw-r--r--  1 0 2013-09-10 10:34 file2
-rw-r--r--  1 0 2013-09-10 10:34 file3
-rw-r--r--  1 0 2013-09-10 10:34 file4

But, as always, it is a bad idea to parse the output of ls, because -- as you have seen -- breaks easily. Consider to use stat instead

for file in *; do
    stat -c "%n,%z;" "$file"

where you can specify which timestamp you want more precisely:

%x     Time of last access
%y     Time of last modification
%z     Time of last change

And you don't need awk anymore, too.

share|improve this answer
Thank you! I never used stat command. It works for what i need. –  DGA Sep 10 '13 at 9:13

You can specify a date-format with your ls command:

ls -log --time-style="long-iso" /some/directory 

This always results in the same date format of YYYY-MM-DD.

share|improve this answer
Thank you, your answer is good and strict to my question, but @mpy answer was more elaborate and give me another aproach to my problem. –  DGA Sep 10 '13 at 9:16

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.