This documentation is for an older version of the software. If you are using the current version of Cumulus Linux, this content may not be up to date. The current version of the documentation is available here. If you are redirected to the main page of the user guide, then this page may have been renamed; please search for it there.

Setting Date and Time

Setting the time zone, date and time requires root privileges; use sudo.


  • date

  • dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

  • hwclock

  • ntpd (daemon)

  • ntpq

Setting the Time Zone

To see the current time zone, list the contents of /etc/timezone:

cumulus@switch:~$ cat /etc/timezone

To set the time zone, run dpkg-reconfigure tzdata as root:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Then navigate the menus to enable the time zone you want. The following example selects the US/Pacific time zone:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Configuring tzdata

Please select the geographic area in which you live. Subsequent configuration
questions will narrow this down by presenting a list of cities, representing
the time zones in which they are located.

  1. Africa      4. Australia  7. Atlantic  10. Pacific  13. Etc
  2. America     5. Arctic     8. Europe    11. SystemV
  3. Antarctica  6. Asia       9. Indian    12. US
Geographic area: 12

Please select the city or region corresponding to your time zone.

  1. Alaska    4. Central  7. Indiana-Starke  10. Pacific
  2. Aleutian  5. Eastern  8. Michigan        11. Pacific-New
  3. Arizona   6. Hawaii   9. Mountain        12. Samoa
Time zone: 10

Current default time zone: 'US/Pacific'
Local time is now:      Mon Jun 17 09:27:45 PDT 2013.
Universal Time is now:  Mon Jun 17 16:27:45 UTC 2013.

For more info see the Debian System Administrator’s Manual - Time.

Setting the Date and Time

The switch contains a battery backed hardware clock that maintains the time while the switch is powered off and in between reboots. When the switch is running, the Cumulus RMP operating system maintains its own software clock.

During boot up, the time from the hardware clock is copied into the operating system’s software clock. The software clock is then used for all timekeeping responsibilities. During system shutdown the software clock is copied back to the battery backed hardware clock.

You can set the date and time on the software clock using the date command. See man date(1) for details.

You can set the date and time on the hardware clock using the hwclock command. See man hwclock(8) for details.

A good overview of the software and hardware clocks can be found in the Debian System Administrator’s Manual - Time, specifically the section Setting and showing hardware clock.

Setting Time Using NTP

The ntpd daemon running on the switch implements the NTP protocol. It synchronizes the system time with time servers listed in /etc/ntp.conf. It is started at boot by default. See man ntpd(8) for ntpd details.

By default, /etc/ntp.conf contains some default time servers. Edit /etc/ntp.conf to add or update time server information. See man ntp.conf(5) for details on configuring ntpd using ntp.conf.

To set the initial date and time via NTP before starting the ntpd daemon, use ntpd -q (This is same as ntpdate, which is to be retired and not available).

ntpd -q can hang if the time servers are not reachable.

To verify that ntpd is running on the system:

cumulus@switch:~$ ps -ef | grep ntp
ntp       4074     1  0 Jun20 ?        00:00:33 /usr/sbin/ntpd -p /var/run/ -g -u 101:102

Configuration Files

  • /etc/default/ntp - ntpd init.d configuration variables

  • /etc/ntp.conf - default NTP configuration file

  • /etc/init.d/ntp - ntpd init script

Useful Links