`timedatectl set-timezone` doesn't update `/etc/timezone`

I raised this question here and someone said that when run on Debian, the file does get updated.

This seems to be a bug to me as the file was initially populated - where do you suggest I raise it?

Well, it’s supposed to be a symlink, what exactly do you experience?
Have you tried running this command with strace to understand what’s going on in the background?

strace shows:

sendmsg(3, {msg_name=NULL, msg_namelen=0, msg_iov=[{iov_base="l\1\0\1\30\0\0\0\2\0\0\0\230\0\0\0\1\1o\0\32\0\0\0/org/freedesktop/timedate1\0\0\0\0\0\0\3\1s\0\v\0\0\0SetTimezone\0\0\0\0\0\2\1s\0\31\0\0\0org.freedesk"..., iov_len=168}, {iov_base="\f\0\0\0Asia/Bangkok\0\0\0\0\1\0\0\0", iov_len=24}], msg_iovlen=2, msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=0}, MSG_DONTWAIT|MSG_NOSIGNAL) = 192

/etc/localtime is supposed to be a symlink.

What does your /etc/timezone point to?

That file doesn’t exist here (clean Gnome install).
From the link you posted:

/etc/timezone appears to be mostly Debian-specific (including derivatives). On Debian systems, timedatectl set-timezone also updates /etc/timezone.

What does timedatectl status say?

/etc/localtime is a symlink to the timezone stored in /usr/share/zoneinfo and should get updated when you run timedatectl set-timezone Continent/Country

This is the status in my computer:

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 34 Aug 16  2017 /etc/localtime -> /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Jerusalem
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 15 Aug 16  2017 /etc/timezone

Maybe you’re barking at the wrong tree? :dog2:

In old Debian (& Ubuntu) versions, there is in /etc/default/rcS/

Set UTC=no

Change it to

Set UTC=yes

Newer Debian and Ubuntu versions do not have this anymore and will follow timedatectl properly.

See this link.

ps: don’t forget to do
hwclock --systohc --utc
when time is showing correctly at panel.

Here’s my guess as to why your /etc/timezone is a 15 byte file:

% echo Asia/Jerusalem | wc -c

@torvic9, timedatectl status is all correct. My understanding is that it gets its Region/City from readlink on /etc/localtime.

The issue is that /etc/timezone (a different file) is not being updated by its set-timezone. It’s interesting that your setup doesn’t have this file when mine and @yaron’s does.

So, back to the original question (woof !):

Why is /etc/timezone initially poplulated but not being updated by timedatectl?

I don’t have /etc/timezone on any of my computers running a recent Manjaro.
Haven’t checked the desktop with the old install yet.

What if you delete the file?
/etc/localtime surely is enough to set the correct timezone?
Or, instead of using timedatectl, create the symlink manually?

Are you sure that /etc/timezone is even used?
Can you try and see what is the strace of timedatectl trying to fetch the current timezone?

@torvic9 Is there some specific POSIX specification for this?

Hmm… I don’t know all too much about it.
See here:

And more importantly, this, section “Files”:

You can use a perl oneliner to get the timezone via strftime:
perl -MPOSIX -e 'print strftime "%Z (%z)\n",localtime' (from StackOverflow)

1 Like

Nope, this gives:

+08 (+0800)

@ yaron timedatectl gets doesn’t get it from the filesystem:

$ strace -fs300 timedatectl status |& grep Asia
recvmsg(3, {msg_name=NULL, msg_namelen=0, msg_iov=[{iov_base="\6\1s\0\t\0\0\0:1.103827\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\10\1g\0\5a{sv}\0\0\0\0\0\0\7\1s\0\t\0\0\0:1.103825\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\300\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\10\0\0\0Timezone\0\1s\0\f\0\0\0Asia/Bangkok\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\10\0\0\0LocalRTC\0\1b\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\6\0\0\0CanNTP\0\1b\0\0\0\1\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\3\0\0\0NTP\0\1b\0\0\0\0\0\0\17\0\0\0NTPSynchronized\0\1b\0\0\1\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\10\0\0\0TimeUSec\0\1t\0\340w}\262\261o\5\0\v\0\0\0RTCTimeUSec\0\1t\0\0\0\0\0\0\200=}\262\261o\5\0", iov_len=264}], msg_iovlen=1, msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=MSG_CMSG_CLOEXEC}, MSG_DONTWAIT|MSG_NOSIGNAL|MSG_CMSG_CLOEXEC) = 264
openat(AT_FDCWD, "/usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Bangkok", O_RDONLY|O_CLOEXEC) = 4
write(1, "                      Local time: Thu 2018-06-28 18:04:38 +07\n                  Universal time: Thu 2018-06-28 11:04:38 UTC\n                        RTC time: Thu 2018-06-28 11:04:38\n                       Time zone: Asia/Bangkok (+07, +0700)\n       System clock synchronized: yes\nsystemd-timesyncd.se"..., 354                      Local time: Thu 2018-06-28 18:04:38 +07
                       Time zone: Asia/Bangkok (+07, +0700)

So something is writing /etc/timezone:

  • What is it?
  • Why does it write it?

Hm…here the output of the perl command and timedatectl are the same.

Tried deleting /etc/timezone?

Yes, timedatectl status didn’t change.

@yaron I can confirm that timedatectl status gets the TZ info from the symlink:

Initial status:

$ timedatectl status                                          
                      Local time: Fri 2018-06-29 11:01:28 +07       
                  Universal time: Fri 2018-06-29 04:01:28 UTC    
                        RTC time: Fri 2018-06-29 04:01:28        
                       Time zone: Asia/Bangkok (+07, +0700)             
       System clock synchronized: no                          
systemd-timesyncd.service active: no                              
                 RTC in local TZ: no                            

Overwrite symlink with contents of the file it points to:

$ sudo ln -f "$(realpath /etc/localtime)" /etc/localtime          
$ timedatectl status                                           
                      Local time: Fri 2018-06-29 04:04:03 UTC
                  Universal time: Fri 2018-06-29 04:04:03 UTC
                        RTC time: Fri 2018-06-29 04:04:04
                       Time zone: n/a (UTC, +0000) 
       System clock synchronized: no                               
systemd-timesyncd.service active: no
                 RTC in local TZ: no  

Note the local time change to match UTC, and the n/a timezone.

So timedatectl doesn’t use /etc/timezone, but rather the /etc/localtime symlink.

So what put the file there in the first place for @yaron and myself?

I also asked What is /etc/timezone used for? on SE.Unix.

1 Like

In your Debian OS, do you have /etc/default/rcS ?
If yes, what’s in it?

I don’t have a Debian OS… Perhaps the file was carried over from somewhere?

Ok sorry, I thought you did.


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