The following root Crontab job is being used to save periodic timestamped copies of a web page every 15 minutes. Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS AMD64 cloud server online 24/7. Time as displayed by the date function is UTC.

*/15 * * * * /usr/bin/wget --convert-links --output-document=/home/user/Firefox/News-Headlines-$(date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.news.tld

The following file is being saved as expected:

News-Headlines-2017-04-11_02:15:01.html < Time in UTC

The desired timestamp is for TZ=America/Detroit, currently -4 UTC

News-Headlines-2017-04-10_22:15:01.html < Time America/Detroit


How can the date command be changed to produce the filename with the TZ=America/Detroit timestamp?



I obtained the proper name of the timezone from Timezone List


I am aware of these hybrid command lines to get a time shifted date from the "date" command.

Vanila date command output

$ date
Mon Apr 10 20:52:29 UTC 2017

Time shifted output

$ TZ=America/Detroit date
Mon Apr 10 16:25:49 EDT 2017

I attempted

*/15 * * * * /usr/bin/wget --convert-links --output-document=/home/user/Firefox/News-Headlines-$(TZ=America/Detroit date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.news.tld

The timestamp saved is unaffected:

News-Headlines-2017-04-11_02:15:01.html  < Time in UTC
  • 1
    Honestly I don't see anything wrong with the way you are doing it - and testing with a simple * * * * * touch /tmp/crondate-$(America/Detroit date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html appears to work for me. – steeldriver Apr 11 '17 at 1:40
  • And I don't know when you are, but in time in UTC is not yet 02:15 on 2017/04/11. (Timestamp on this comment: 2017-04-11 01:42:53Z) – muru Apr 11 '17 at 1:42
  • steeldriver: Removing TZ from my proposed code line: */15 * * * * /usr/bin/wget --convert-links --output-document=/home/user/Firefox/News-Headlines-$(America/Detroit date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.news.tld . . . results in no file being saved. – ml48603 Apr 11 '17 at 1:58
  • You should really not run wget, or in general anything that processes untrusted data, as root. – fkraiem Apr 11 '17 at 19:43
  • Will setup new user for these periodic data harvests. Thanks – ml48603 Apr 13 '17 at 16:30

Did some experimenting with the date command from within the root crontab. From what I observed the date command run from crontab does not recognize all of the Timezone designations listed at:


Rewriting the cited command in the original post with a UTC based timezone designator as opposed to the Country/City format designator.

*/15 * * * * /usr/bin/wget --convert-links --output-document=/home/user/Firefox/News-Headlines-$(TZ=UTC4 date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.news.tld

NOTE: Whether GMT or UTC is used the results are the same.

Results in the following timestamped file name timestamped for -4 UTC, despite use of the timezone designator UTC4 = UTC +4.

# date
Tue Apr 11 18:34:36 UTC 2017


While this solution does work, it is not understood why using timezone designator UTC4 = UTC +4 results in a UTC -4 timestamp.


Using the UTC -4 designator results in the opposite:

$ wget --convert-links --output-document=/home/mark/Downloads/Firefox/FoxNews-Headlines-$(TZ=UTC-4 date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.foxnews.com

# date
Tue Apr 11 18:50:08 UTC 2017


This timestamp is 4 hours ahead of UTC with a UTC-4 = UTC -4 . It is not understood why using timezone designator UTC-4 = UTC -4 results in a UTC +4 timestamp.


Setting the TZ environment variable globally in the crontab file works:

firas@momiji ~ % cat /etc/cron.d/timestamp 

* * * * * firas /usr/bin/wget --quiet --convert-links --output-document=/home/firas/News-Headlines-$(date +\%Y-\%m-\%d_\%H:\%M:\%S).html www.fkraiem.org
firas@momiji ~ % date
Wed Apr 12 04:49:20 JST 2017
firas@momiji ~ % TZ=America/Detroit date
Tue Apr 11 15:49:34 EDT 2017
firas@momiji ~ % ls News-Headlines-2017-04-11_15:4*
News-Headlines-2017-04-11_15:46:01.html  News-Headlines-2017-04-11_15:48:01.html
News-Headlines-2017-04-11_15:47:01.html  News-Headlines-2017-04-11_15:49:01.html

Things to note:

  • Run wget as yourself and not as root, as it is in general dangerous to run anything that processed untrusted data as root.
  • Run wget with --quiet to suppress all output (which is otherwise sent by e-mail to the user).
  • Been using >/dev/null 2>&1. Will try --quiet today to test. Will setup new user for these periodic data harvests. Thanks – ml48603 Apr 13 '17 at 16:29
  • --quiet switch worked as expected and will restore error notification that was disabled with previous crontab redirect >/dev/null 2>&1 – ml48603 Apr 13 '17 at 18:05

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