If I want to set the time I know I can use a command like this:

sudo date +%T -s '17:45:00'

And it will set the clock to 5:45pm in the system time zone. This means that if I have the system set to UTC this will be 17:45 UTC, but if the system is set to Eastern time then the same command would actually update the clock to be 12:45 UTC. Is there some way I can specify the timezone identifier along with the time, in the date -s command?

  • What version of date are you using? This doesn't match the documentation of date that I'm reading. And why are you doing this at all? Jan 26, 2018 at 18:03
  • Looks like the version is 8.2.3. It's what came installed on Raspbian.
    – soapergem
    Jan 26, 2018 at 20:37

3 Answers 3


After a bit of trial-and-error experimentation, I figured it out. To set just the time and to force it to be in UTC, I can do this:

sudo date +%T%Z -s "17:45:00UTC"

If I want to set the date and the time simultaneously, I can do this:

sudo date -s '2018-01-26T17:45:00Z'
  • It's all in the man page. Both -d and -s take a "date string" and its format is described (actually a very permissive input). You can use date -d as a dry run for date -s
    – xenoid
    Jan 26, 2018 at 21:34

If the device you are updating the time on, does not have a connection to the internet. And you don't care about sub-seconds accuracy. You can use this on a computer with a known correct time to generate a bash command that sets the correct time using UTC timestamp.

echo "date +%s -s @$(date +%s)"

This will generate something like date +%s -s @1541377821 that you can copy and paste to the other computer.

  • 2
    Underrated answer, this saved me some keystrokes :)
    – pilkch
    Feb 8, 2019 at 0:39

In most flavors of Linux (Particularly Redhat/Centos off the top of my head), do this:

# Delete the current time zone file
rm -f /etc/localtime

# Set it to the new value
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/UTC /etc/localtime

I understand that this does not use the date command as you requested.

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