What timezone should a server run in?

Ever since the dawn of time (Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 GMT 1970) UNIX has been tracking time in GMT or possibly UTC for those with no sense of history. It is my contention, one that my server at home supports, that all servers should run with a default timezone of GMT. Yes it makes cron slightly more irritating than it could be for local users but unless all your users actually live in the same timezone how do you choose which one to use?

For any system that can be connected to globally you have to choose a timezone, why pick the one for the geographic location of the server when only a small fraction of the users will be in that location. No. Choose GMT, not GB, or GB-Eire but GMT with no springing forward or autuming back just plain simple GMT. Then run all your services in that timezone. If users want a different time zone they can set TZ for themselves.

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Well said. I had not really thought about it before but it makes perfect sense to me.

dl

Posted by Dan Lacher on January 19, 2007 at 10:34 AM GMT #

That could be confusing as most people don't. If you do, make it well known. Alternately run cron in UTC if that is the main concern. The underlying system time should ALWAYS be UTC whatever you do. And run NTP. Does a sense of history include knowing that GMT is not the standard time anymore but that Universal Time Coordinated is? ;-)

Posted by RNC on January 19, 2007 at 10:58 AM GMT #

Cron is a red-herring: it's a nasty, unfriendly UI, and it really ought to have an option to map job times across timezones (that of the cron daemon vs. that of the crontab client).

Posted by Nico on January 19, 2007 at 03:45 PM GMT #

Cron needs to allow metadata at the top of the crontab. For example:

MAILTO=somebody@other.than.me
TZ=US/Central
0 \* \* \* \* echo This will run 23 times in a day on spring forward regardless of TZ in /etc/default/init

It seems as though I have seen some non-Solaris crontabs that have variables defined at the top. I am suggesting that when cron parses the crontab, it should look for TZ and perform that users' jobs in that time zone.

Posted by Mike Gerdts on January 19, 2007 at 06:00 PM GMT #

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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