tzset − initialize time conversion information


#include <time.h>

void tzset (void);

extern char *tzname[2]


The tzset() function initializes the tzname variable from the TZ environment variable. This function is automatically called by the other time conversion functions that depend on the time zone.

If the TZ variable does not appear in the environment, the tzname variable is initialized with the best approximation of local wall clock time, as specified by the tzfile(5)-format file /etc/localtime.

If the TZ variable does appear in the environment but its value is NULL or its value cannot be interpreted using any of the formats specified below, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is used.

The value of TZ can be one of three formats. The first format is used when there is no daylight saving time in the local time zone:

std offset

The std string specifies the name of the time zone and must be three or more alphabetic characters. The offset string immediately follows std and specifies the time value to be added to the local time to get Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The offset is positive if the local time zone is west of the Prime Meridian and negative if it is east. The hour must be between 0 and 24, and the minutes and seconds 0 and 59.

The second format is used when there is daylight saving time:

std offset dst [offset],start[/time],end[/time]

There are no spaces in the specification. The initial std and offset specify the standard time zone, as described above. The dst string and offset specify the name and offset for the corresponding daylight savings time zone. If the offset is omitted, it defaults to one hour ahead of standard time.

The start field specifies when daylight savings time goes into effect and the end field specifies when the change is made back to standard time. These fields may have the following formats:


This specifies the Julian day with n between 1 and 365. February 29 is never counted even in leap years.


This specifies the Julian day with n between 1 and 365. February 29 is counted in leap years.


This specifies day d (0 <= d <= 6) of week w (1 <= w <= 5) of month m (1 <= m <= 12). Week 1 is the first week in which day d occurs and week 5 is the last week in which day d occurs. Day 0 is a Sunday.

The time fields specify when, in the local time currently in effect, the change to the other time occurs. If omitted, the default is 02:00:00.

The third format specifies that the time zone information should be read from a file:


If the file specification filespec is omitted, the time zone information is read from /usr/lib/zoneinfo/localtime which is in tzfile(5) format. If filespec is given, it specifies another tzfile(5)-format file to read the time zone information from. If filespec does not begin with a ‘/’, the file specification is relative to the system time conversion information directory /usr/lib/zoneinfo.


/usr/lib/zoneinfo                system time zone directory
/usr/lib/zoneinfo/localtime      local time zone file
/usr/lib/zoneinfo/posixrules     rules for POSIX-style TZ’s




date(1), gettimeofday(2), time(2), ctime(3), getenv(3), tzfile(5)