If you have set up your Debian system to retrieve the timezone automatically, it will synchronize your system time over the Internet so that your system has the timezone as your nearest location. If you want to change the time zone to your own preferences, Debian offers you two ways to do this; from the command line and through the graphical user interface.

In this article, we will explain how to change the current time zone of a Debian 10-Buster system.

How to Check the Current Time Zone

Check timezone through the Command Line

Open your Terminal application through the Application Launcher search as follows:

Debian Terminal

You can access the Application Launcher through the Super/Windows key on your laptop.

Then, enter the following command in order to view information about your system time and time zone:

$ timedatectl

Check Timezone

You can also view this information by using the following command:

$ ls -l /etc/localtime


Check timezone through the UI

In order to view information about the current time zone through the UI, you need to access the Date & Time settings. You can do so through the Application Launcher as follows:

Date and Time

Click on the Date & Time search result to open the following Settings view:

Date and Time settings in GNOME

How to Change the Time zone

Change timezone through the Command Line

Open the Terminal and enter the following command in order to list timezones of a specific zone:


$ timedatectl list-timezones | grep -i [zone]


We will use this command to list all the time zones of Europe:

$ timedatectl list-timezones | grep -i europe

List time zones

In this example, we will be setting the time zone to Europe/Istanbul. First, let us unlink the system time with local time through the following command:

$ sudo unlink /etc/localtime

The next step is to use the following command to set a new time zone:


$ sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/[Zone/TimeZone] /etc/localtime


$ sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Istanbul /etc/localtime

You can verify the changed settings through one of the following commands:

$ timedatectl


$ ls -l /etc/localtime

Unset localtime

Check timezone through the UI

In the Date & Time tab on the Debian Settings utility, you need to first unlock the settings on this view. To do so, click on the Unlock button and provide authentication details as only an authorized user can change Date & Time settings.

Authenticate as admin

Click the Authenticate button. You will now see the settings as active/configurable.

Please switch off the Automatic Time zone button if it is turned on:

Date and time settings

Then click the Time Zone option in order to change the time zone.

Choose country

Through the above view, you can either search for a time zone through the search bar or manually move to your time zone through the mouse. As soon as you do that, the time zone of your system will be changed.

As you have seen, it is very simple to change the Time Zone of your Debian system both through the UI and the command line. You just need to follow a simple procedure and use a few commands in order to perform this task.

How to Change the Timezone on Debian 10

Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn