date command formatting with practical examples in Linux / Unix

Date Command in Linux is very extensive and dynamic, provides very rich date formatting and is greatly customizable for working with scripts which depend on time based invocations.

Linux date command can also be used to set the system date and it requires the root permission.

Lets run date command and examine the output.

[vamshi@node02 log]$ date
Wed Apr 1 13:52:21 UTC 2020

Now lets examine some of the most useful options that comes with the date command.

Firstly date command along with -s or --set option can take for following format to set the new system time and date.

How to set the system date in Linux using date command?

[vamshi@node02 log]$ sudo date -s 'Apr 01 2020 13:52:59 UTC'
Wed Apr 1 13:52:59 UTC 2020

The date can also be setup in shot hand notation as follows,but it is more cryptic

[vamshi@node02 log]$ sudo date 040113522020.50
Wed Apr 1 13:52:50 UTC 2020
$ sudo date mmddHHMMyyyy.SS

The format is month of the Year(mm),day of the month(dd),Hour of the day(HH),minute of the Hour(MM) and the Year(yyyy),and the Seconds of the minute(.SS)
Now, Lets dive deep and get to know the date options and Demonstration practical examples in this tutorial:

Another Important Option is -d or –date=”String” which can display the time described
Lets see some examples as follows:

By running the date command, we get an elaborate time and date format along with the TimeZone information.
To covert the Epoc time to human readable date, we can use date command as follows:

[vamshi@node02 log]$ date -d"@1585749164"
Wed Apr 1 13:52:44 UTC 2020

If you want to get a future date then use:

[vamshi@linuxcent ~]$ date -d "+130 days"
Sun Aug 16 02:07:35 UTC 2020

Date command offers a great flexibility to extract past and future dates as we will show below:

$ date "+ %F" -d “+30 days”
$ date "+ %F" --date “+30 days”

To get the date in history; go back to a date some days ago in Linux

[vamshi@node02 log]$ date -d "17 days ago"
Sun Mar 15 13:52:45 UTC 2020

Here we present some of the more useful Format options:

Date Format Command Explanation Result
date +”%a” Prints the Abbreviated Day of the Week Sat-Sun Wed
date +”%A” Prints the Day of the Week Saturday-Sunday Wednesday
date +”%b” Prints Abbreviated Month Jan-Dec Apr
date +”%B” Print un-abbreviated month January-December April
date +”%c” Prints Full Current Date and time format Wed Apr 1 13:52:43 UTC 2020
date +”%D” Prints dd/mm/yy date format 04/01/2020
date +”%d” Prints day of the month (01-31) 01
date +”%D” Prints Date in MM/DD/YY 04/01/20
date +”%e” Prints the Day of the month 01
date +”%F” Prints only the Full date as YYYY-MM-DD 2020-04-01
date +”%H” Prints the hour 00-23 13
date +”%I” Prints the hour in 00-12 01
date +”%j” Prints Julian day of the Year(001-366) 092
date +”%M” Prints the Minute of the hour 00-59 52
date +”%m” Prints the month of the year 01-12 04
date +”%n” Prints the newline character Newline/Empty line
date +”%N” Prints the nanoseconds counts 036416306
date +”%P” Prints AM/PM in the day PM
date +”%r” Get only time in AM/PM notation 13:52:43 PM
date +”%S” Get the current seconds count in the minute (00-60) 43
date +”%s” Get the number of seconds since 1st January 1970 (Epoch time) 1585749164
date +”%T” Time in 24 Hour format HH:MM:YY 13:52:43
date +”%u” Get  current day of the week
3 for Wednesday
date +”%U” Get the current week of the Year considering Sunday as first week 13
date +”%V” Get the current week of the Year considering Monday as first week 14
date +”%y” or date +”%g” Prints only the last two digits of Year 20
Date +“%Y” or date +”%F” Prints Year in YYYY format 2020
Date +“%z” Prints the current Timezone difference from UTC 00 – for UTC
date +”%Z” Prints Alphabetic time zone abbreviation UTC

How to write the current system time to the Machine’s hardware clock ?

The command hwclock can do that for us.
[/code] # sudo hwclock [OPTIONS][/code]

Lets see a practical example where our Hardware clock was 1 hour and 13 mins behind the actual system time .

[vamshi@node02 ~]$ sudo hwclock
Wed 01 Apr 2020 07:35:05 AM UTC -0.454139 seconds
[vamshi@node02 ~]$ date
Wed Apr 01 08:43:13 UTC 2020

Setting the hardware clock time to system time with option -w or --systohc as seen below.

[vamshi@node02 ~]$ sudo hwclock -w

Confirm it with hwclock command as follows:

[vamshi@node02 ~]$ sudo hwclock
Wed 01 Apr 2020 08:44:05 AM UTC -0.538163 seconds

Most of the times the hardware clock will be out of sync with the system time and its a good practice to set the hardware clock in sync and comes in real handy during the system reboots.

What is the date format in Unix?

Below is a list of common date format options with examples output. It works with the Linux date command line and the mac/Unix date command line.

Date Format Option Meaning Example Output
date +%m-%d-%Y MM-DD-YYYY date format 05-09-2020
date +%D MM/DD/YY date format 05/09/20

How do I format a date in Linux?

These are the most common formatting characters for the date command:
  1. %D – Display date as mm/dd/yy.
  2. %Y – Year (e.g., 2020)
  3. %m – Month (01-12)
  4. %B – Long month name (e.g., November)
  5. %b – Short month name (e.g., Nov)
  6. %d – Day of month (e.g., 01)
  7. %j – Day of year (001-366)
  8. %u – Day of week (1-7)

What %D format in date command does?

%D: Display date as mm/dd/yy.

%d: Display the day of the month (01 to 31). %a: Displays the abbreviated name for weekdays (Sun to Sat). %A: Displays full weekdays (Sunday to Saturday).

How do you change the date in Unix?

The basic way to alter the system’s date in Unix/Linux through the command line environment is by using “date” command. Using date command with no options just displays the current date and time. By using the date command with the additional options, you can set date and time.

What is the date format?

Date Format Types
Format Date order Description
1 MM/DD/YY Month-Day-Year with leading zeros (02/17/2009)
2 DD/MM/YY Day-Month-Year with leading zeros (17/02/2009)
3 YY/MM/DD Year-Month-Day with leading zeros (2009/02/17)
4 Month D, Yr Month name-Day-Year with no leading zeros (February 17, 2009)

How can I get yesterday date in Unix?

  1. Use perl: perl -e ‘@T=localtime(time-86400);printf(“%02d/%02d/%02d”,$T[4]+1,$T[3],$T[5]+1900)’
  2. Install GNU date (it’s in the sh_utils package if I remember correctly) date –date yesterday “+%a %d/%m/%Y” | read dt echo ${dt}
  3. Not sure if this works, but you might be able to use a negative timezone.

How do I display yesterday’s date in Linux?

Yesterday date YES_DAT=$(date –date=’ 1 days ago’ ‘+%Y%d%m’)
Day before yesterdays date DAY_YES_DAT=$(date –date=’ 2 days ago’ ‘+%Y%d%m’)

Which command is used for displaying date and calendar in Unix?

Which command is used for displaying date and calendar in UNIX? Explanation: date command is used for displaying the current system date and time while cal command is used to see the calendar of any specific month/year.

Which command is used for displaying date in the format dd mm yyyy?

To use the date in MM-YYYY format, we can use the command date +%m-%Y. To use the date in Weekday DD-Month, YYYY format, we can use the command date +%A %d-%B, %Y.

What does df command do in Linux?

Display Information of /home File System. To see the information of only device /home file systems in human-readable format use the following command.

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