How to install tzdata on a ubuntu docker image?

I have the following line in the Dockerfile.

RUN apt-get install -y tzdata

When I run it, it asks for my input. After I provided my input, it hung there. Does anybody know how to solve this problem?

Step 25/25 : RUN apt-get install -y tzdata
—> Running in ee47a1beff84
Reading package lists…
Building dependency tree…
Reading state information…
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 189 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3104 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 Index of /ubuntu bionic-updates/main amd64 tzdata all 2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04 [189 kB]
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Dialog
debconf: (TERM is not set, so the dialog frontend is not usable.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Readline
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Readline
debconf: (This frontend requires a controlling tty.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Teletype
dpkg-preconfigure: unable to re-open stdin:
Fetched 189 kB in 1s (219 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package tzdata.
(Reading database … 25194 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/tzdata_2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04_all.deb …
Unpacking tzdata (2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04) …
Setting up tzdata (2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04) …
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Dialog
debconf: (TERM is not set, so the dialog frontend is not usable.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Readline
Configuring tzdata

Please select the geographic area in which you live. Subsequent configuration
questions will narrow this down by presenting a list of cities, representing
the time zones in which they are located.

  1. Africa 4. Australia 7. Atlantic 10. Pacific 13. Etc
  2. America 5. Arctic 8. Europe 11. SystemV
  3. Antarctica 6. Asia 9. Indian 12. US
    Geographic area:

One line only:

RUN DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive TZ=Etc/UTC apt-get -y install tzdata

You can use ARG and ENV directives to your advantage:

ARG DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
ENV TZ=Europe/Moscow
RUN apt-get install -y tzdata

This way DEBIAN_FRONTEND will be defined only while you build your image while TZ will persist at runtime.

You need to execute serie of commands:

    # set noninteractive installation
    export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
    # install tzdata package
    apt-get install -y tzdata
    # set your timezone
    ln -fs /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
    dpkg-reconfigure --frontend noninteractive tzdata

(commands which start with # are comments and you can ignore them)

The best way is to create script, copy the script to container and execute it In Dockerfile:


Set two environment variables in a docker-compose file. One disables the prompt, and the other sets the timezone.


version: '3.7'
    build: .
      - TZ=America/New_York
      - DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

Then simply install tzdata in your image.


FROM ubuntu:18.04
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y tzdata
# Testing command: Print the date.  It will be in the timezone set from the compose file.
CMD date

To test:

docker-compose build timezone

Make sure if you're using @petertc's solution and are doing apt-get update && apt-get install on the same line that the DEBIAN_FRONTEND statement is after the &&:


RUN apt-get update && DEBIAN_FRONTEND="noninteractive" TZ="America/New_York" apt-get install -y tzdata


RUN DEBIAN_FRONTEND="noninteractive" TZ="America/New_York" apt-get update && apt-get install -y tzdata

From a simple Dockerfile it works but it might require further tweaking (tz is 19:25 but 16:25 inside docker, idc now because it is for automation purpose on a ARM64 jetson nano)

RUN export TZ=Europe/Paris
RUN pip3 install -U Cython contextlib2 pillow lxml jupyter matplotlib
RUN DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get install protobuf-compiler python-pil python-lxml python-tk -y
Unpacking protobuf-compiler (3.0.0-9.1ubuntu1) ...
Setting up python-chardet (3.0.4-1) ...
Setting up tzdata (2019c-0ubuntu0.18.04) ...

Current default time zone: 'Etc/UTC'
Local time is now:      Wed Apr 22 16:25:17 UTC 2020.
Universal Time is now:  Wed Apr 22 16:25:17 UTC 2020.
Run 'dpkg-reconfigure tzdata' if you wish to change it.

Setting up libxss1:arm64 (1:1.2.2-1) ...

For me, it worked and I preferred this way (this way you don't need to set a noninteractive mode):

Set an environment variable with your timezone, for instance: ENV TZ=Europe/Madrid

Then, print this variable into a file and then link that file to the file which the the configuration process will read when installing tzdata: RUN ln -snf /usr/share/zoneinfo/$TZ /etc/localtime && echo $TZ > /etc/timezone

Finally, install tzdata normally: RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y tzdata

Extracted from:

On focal 20.04 the solutions using TZ=... and DEBIAN_FRONTEND=... does not work anymore. It used to work till bionic 18.04. The docker file snippet that works for focal look like:

   ## preesed tzdata, update package index, upgrade packages and install needed software
   RUN truncate -s0 /tmp/preseed.cfg && \
       (echo "tzdata tzdata/Areas select America" >> /tmp/preseed.cfg) && \
       (echo "tzdata tzdata/Zones/America select Los_Angeles" >> /tmp/preseed.cfg) && \
       debconf-set-selections /tmp/preseed.cfg && \
       rm -f /etc/timezone /etc/localtime && \
       apt-get update && \
       apt-get install -y tzdata
   ## cleanup of files from setup
   RUN rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*

The solution is mostly derived from another stackoverflow topic.