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SYSTEMD.TIME(7) systemd.time SYSTEMD.TIME(7)


systemd.time - Time and date specifications


In systemd, timestamps, time spans, and calendar events are displayed and may be specified in closely related syntaxes.


Time spans refer to time durations. On display, systemd will present time spans as a space-separated series of time values each suffixed by a time unit. Example:

2h 30min

All specified time values are meant to be added up. The above hence refers to 150 minutes. Display is locale-independent, only English names for the time units are used.


When parsing, systemd will accept the same time span syntax. Separating spaces may be omitted. The following time units are understood:

•usec, us, μs

•msec, ms

•seconds, second, sec, s

•minutes, minute, min, m

•hours, hour, hr, h

•days, day, d

•weeks, week, w

•months, month, M (defined as 30.44 days)

•years, year, y (defined as 365.25 days)

If no time unit is specified, generally seconds are assumed, but some exceptions exist and are marked as such. In a few cases "ns", "nsec" is accepted too, where the granularity of the time span permits this. Parsing is generally locale-independent, non-English names for the time units are not accepted.

Examples for valid time span specifications:

2 h
1y 12month
300ms20s 5day

One can use the timespan command of systemd-analyze(1) to normalise a textual time span for testing and validation purposes.

Internally, systemd generally operates with microsecond time granularity, while the default time unit in user-configurable time spans is usually seconds (see above). This disparity becomes visible when comparing the same settings in the (high-level) unit file syntax with the matching (more low-level) D-Bus properties (which are what systemctl(1)'s show command displays). The former typically are suffixed with "...Sec" to indicate the default unit of seconds, the latter are typically suffixed with "...USec" to indicate the underlying low-level time unit, even if they both encapsulate the very same settings.


Timestamps refer to specific, unique points in time. On display, systemd will format these in the local timezone as follows:

Fri 2012-11-23 23:02:15 CET

The weekday is printed in the abbreviated English language form. The formatting is locale-independent.

In some cases timestamps are shown in the UTC timezone instead of the local timezone, which is indicated via the "UTC" timezone specifier in the output.

In some cases timestamps are shown with microsecond granularity. In this case the sub-second remainder is separated by a full stop from the seconds component.


When parsing, systemd will accept a similar syntax, but some fields can be omitted, and the space between the date and time can be replaced with a "T" (à la the RFC 3339[1] profile of ISO 8601); thus, in CET, the following are all identical: "Fri 2012-11-23 23:02:15 CET", "Fri 2012-11-23T23:02:15", "2012-11-23T23:02:15 CET", "2012-11-23 23:02:15".

The timezone defaults to the current timezone if not specified explicitly. It may be given after a space, like above, in which case it can be: "UTC", an entry in the installed IANA timezone database ("CET", "Asia/Tokyo", &c.; complete list obtainable with "timedatectl list-timezones" (see timedatectl(1))), or "±05", "±0530", "±05:30", "Z".

It may also be affixed directly to the timestamp, in which case it must correspond to one of the formats defined in the RFC 3339[1] profile of ISO 8601: "±05:30" or "Z". Thus, the following are also identical to the above: "2012-11-23T23:02:15+01:00", "2012-11-23 22:02:15Z".

A timestamp can start with a field containing a weekday, which can be in an abbreviated ("Wed") or non-abbreviated ("Wednesday") English language form (case does not matter), regardless of the locale. However, if a weekday is specified and doesn't match the date, the timestamp is rejected.

If the date is omitted, it defaults to today. If the time is omitted, it defaults to 00:00:00. Fractional seconds can be specified down to 1µs precision. The seconds field can also be omitted, defaulting to 0.

There are special tokens that can be used in place of timestamps: "now" may be used to refer to the current time (or of the invocation of the command that is currently executed). "today", "yesterday", and "tomorrow" refer to 00:00:00 of the current day, the day before, or the next day, respectively.

Relative times are also accepted: a time span (see above) prefixed with "+" is evaluated to the current time plus the specified time span. Correspondingly, a time span that is prefixed with "-" is evaluated to the current time minus the specified time span. Instead of prefixing the time span with "+" or "-", it may also be suffixed with a space and the word "left" or "ago".

Finally, an integer prefixed with "@" is evaluated relative to the UNIX epoch – 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC.

Examples for valid timestamps and their normalized form (assuming the current time was 2012-11-23 18:15:22 and the timezone was UTC+8, for example "TZ=:Asia/Shanghai"):

Fri 2012-11-23 11:12:13 → Fri 2012-11-23 11:12:13
2012-11-23 11:12:13 → Fri 2012-11-23 11:12:13
2012-11-23 11:12:13 UTC → Fri 2012-11-23 19:12:13
2012-11-23T11:12:13Z → Fri 2012-11-23 19:12:13
2012-11-23T11:12+02:00 → Fri 2012-11-23 17:12:00
2012-11-23 → Fri 2012-11-23 00:00:00
12-11-23 → Fri 2012-11-23 00:00:00
11:12:13 → Fri 2012-11-23 11:12:13
11:12 → Fri 2012-11-23 11:12:00
now → Fri 2012-11-23 18:15:22
today → Fri 2012-11-23 00:00:00
today UTC → Fri 2012-11-23 16:00:00
yesterday → Fri 2012-11-22 00:00:00
tomorrow → Fri 2012-11-24 00:00:00 tomorrow Pacific/Auckland → Thu 2012-11-23 19:00:00
+3h30min → Fri 2012-11-23 21:45:22
-5s → Fri 2012-11-23 18:15:17
11min ago → Fri 2012-11-23 18:04:22
@1395716396 → Tue 2014-03-25 03:59:56

Note that timestamps displayed by remote systems with a non-matching timezone are usually not parsable locally, as the timezone component is not understood (unless it happens to be "UTC").

Timestamps may also be specified with microsecond granularity. The sub-second remainder is expected separated by a full stop from the seconds component. Example:

2014-03-25 03:59:56.654563

In some cases, systemd will display a relative timestamp (relative to the current time, or the time of invocation of the command) instead of or in addition to an absolute timestamp as described above. A relative timestamp is formatted as follows:

2 months 5 days ago

Note that a relative timestamp is also accepted where a timestamp is expected (see above).

Use the timestamp command of systemd-analyze(1) to validate and normalize timestamps for testing purposes.


Calendar events may be used to refer to one or more points in time in a single expression. They form a superset of the absolute timestamps explained above:

Thu,Fri 2012-*-1,5 11:12:13

The above refers to 11:12:13 of the first or fifth day of any month of the year 2012, but only if that day is a Thursday or Friday.

The weekday specification is optional. If specified, it should consist of one or more English language weekday names, either in the abbreviated (Wed) or non-abbreviated (Wednesday) form (case does not matter), separated by commas. Specifying two weekdays separated by ".." refers to a range of continuous weekdays. "," and ".." may be combined freely.

In the date and time specifications, any component may be specified as "*" in which case any value will match. Alternatively, each component can be specified as a list of values separated by commas. Values may be suffixed with "/" and a repetition value, which indicates that the value itself and the value plus all multiples of the repetition value are matched. Two values separated by ".." may be used to indicate a range of values; ranges may also be followed with "/" and a repetition value, in which case the expression matches all times starting with the start value, and continuing with all multiples of the repetition value relative to the start value, ending at the end value the latest.

A date specification may use "~" to indicate the last day in a month. For example, "*-02~03" means "the third last day in February," and "Mon *-05~07/1" means "the last Monday in May."

The seconds component may contain decimal fractions both in the value and the repetition. All fractions are rounded to 6 decimal places.

Either time or date specification may be omitted, in which case *-*-* and 00:00:00 is implied, respectively. If the seconds component is not specified, ":00" is assumed.

Timezone can be specified as the literal string "UTC", or the local timezone, similar to the supported syntax of timestamps (see above), or the timezone in the IANA timezone database format (also see above).

The following special expressions may be used as shorthands for longer normalized forms:

minutely → *-*-* *:*:00
hourly → *-*-* *:00:00
daily → *-*-* 00:00:00
monthly → *-*-01 00:00:00
weekly → Mon *-*-* 00:00:00
yearly → *-01-01 00:00:00
quarterly → *-01,04,07,10-01 00:00:00 semiannually → *-01,07-01 00:00:00

Examples for valid timestamps and their normalized form:

Sat,Thu,Mon..Wed,Sat..Sun → Mon..Thu,Sat,Sun *-*-* 00:00:00
Mon,Sun 12-*-* 2,1:23 → Mon,Sun 2012-*-* 01,02:23:00
Wed *-1 → Wed *-*-01 00:00:00
Wed..Wed,Wed *-1 → Wed *-*-01 00:00:00
Wed, 17:48 → Wed *-*-* 17:48:00 Wed..Sat,Tue 12-10-15 1:2:3 → Tue..Sat 2012-10-15 01:02:03
*-*-7 0:0:0 → *-*-07 00:00:00
10-15 → *-10-15 00:00:00
monday *-12-* 17:00 → Mon *-12-* 17:00:00
Mon,Fri *-*-3,1,2 *:30:45 → Mon,Fri *-*-01,02,03 *:30:45
12,14,13,12:20,10,30 → *-*-* 12,13,14:10,20,30:00
12..14:10,20,30 → *-*-* 12..14:10,20,30:00
mon,fri *-1/2-1,3 *:30:45 → Mon,Fri *-01/2-01,03 *:30:45
03-05 08:05:40 → *-03-05 08:05:40
08:05:40 → *-*-* 08:05:40
05:40 → *-*-* 05:40:00
Sat,Sun 12-05 08:05:40 → Sat,Sun *-12-05 08:05:40
Sat,Sun 08:05:40 → Sat,Sun *-*-* 08:05:40
2003-03-05 05:40 → 2003-03-05 05:40:00
05:40:23.4200004/3.1700005 → *-*-* 05:40:23.420000/3.170001
2003-02..04-05 → 2003-02..04-05 00:00:00
2003-03-05 05:40 UTC → 2003-03-05 05:40:00 UTC
2003-03-05 → 2003-03-05 00:00:00
03-05 → *-03-05 00:00:00
hourly → *-*-* *:00:00
daily → *-*-* 00:00:00
daily UTC → *-*-* 00:00:00 UTC
monthly → *-*-01 00:00:00
weekly → Mon *-*-* 00:00:00
weekly Pacific/Auckland → Mon *-*-* 00:00:00 Pacific/Auckland
yearly → *-01-01 00:00:00
annually → *-01-01 00:00:00
*:2/3 → *-*-* *:02/3:00

Calendar events are used by timer units, see systemd.timer(5) for details.

Use the calendar command of systemd-analyze(1) to validate and normalize calendar time specifications for testing purposes. The tool also calculates when a specified calendar event would occur next.


systemd(1), journalctl(1), systemd.timer(5), systemd.unit(5), systemd.directives(7), systemd-analyze(1)


RFC 3339
systemd 256.2