Change the Week Start Day in Ubuntu

December 7, 2008 by
Filed under: gnome, HowTo, linux, Ubuntu 

A while back I showed how to change the week start day in the Hamster Applet time tracker. Today I'm going to show how to change the week start day to Monday for Ubuntu in general. This will affect various applications in Ubuntu including the default clock applet on the panel. I figured some of this out by reading this post on the Ubuntu forums.

The time and date formats in Ubuntu are controlled by the locale settings. First you need to find out the current locale being used to control your time and date settings. Open a terminal and enter the following command.

locale | grep LC_TIME

You should see a result that looks something like


which in my case is English US.

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Now you're ready to make your adjustments. Change to the locale directory and copy the current locale file to create a new custom file.

cd /usr/share/i18n/locales
sudo cp en_US en_US_custom

Adjust the above copy command for your locale that you found in the previous step.

Now edit the new custom file.

sudo gedit en_US_custom

Find the line that says

first_weekday 1

and change it to

first_weekday 2

then save the file and close the editor.
The final step is to make the change in /etc/environment to point to your new custom file.

sudo gedit /etc/environment

Add a line like this to the bottom of the file making sure to adjust it for the custom locale file you want to use.


That's it. Log out and log back in and you should see the change in the panel calendar and other applications such as Evolution.

GNOME Calendar Start on Monday

GNOME Calendar Start on Monday


10 Responses to “Change the Week Start Day in Ubuntu”

  1. Jimmy says:

    OMG!! - Ubuntu is destroying the spirit of the well constructed shell

  2. re??is says:

    I followed the instructions in this post and rebooted, but Sunday was still displayed as the first day of the week, and now manual pages don't display certain characters correctly and man(1) shows this error:

    man: can't set the locale; make sure $LC_* and $LANG are correct

    Total fail.

  3. Mike says:

    This didn't work for me at all.

    I tried changing it in /etc/environment and in /etc/default/locale, and neither worked.

    I also tried the locale-gen trick mentioned above, but that failed too.

    At one point, the change had been made, but Firefox complained about an unknown locale, and wouldn't start. Undoing the changes fixed the problem.

    This really ought to be easy.

  4. peter says:

    thanks for the tutorial.
    there is just one minor issue :) - it is unable to start NetBeans (v6.7.1) after the path to LC_TIME is changed to a custom file.

  5. arielCo says:

    Editing /etc/default/locale worked perfectly for me.
    @Denis: maybe you did the same mistake as I - the quotation marks shown in Fer's comment are "typographical", as opposed to "standard" plain old quotes (ASCII 34); I blame WordPress. If you copied from the browser and pasted, the locale variables will include the funny characters and for example "cal" will say:
    cal: setlocale: No such file or directory

    I ran "sudo vi /etc/default/locale", replaced the quotes (in this particular case the quotes aren't even needed), logged out/in, and everything's peachy.

  6. Denis says:

    In 9.10 do not change environment OR /etc/defaults/locale
    For example ccsm will not run after that !!!

    After you change and save:

    first_weekday 2

    run in terminal

    sudo locale-gen

    then log out and log in


  7. Fer says:

    Ohhh I forgot to change my /etc/environment
    That did the trick.

    By the way, during the search I also found that editing the file /etc/defaults/locale this way (adding the last three lines):

    $ sudo gedit /etc/default/locale

    I will get American english, but time, paper size and units in British i.e. weeks starting with Mondays, A4, metric.
    (In this case is not necessary edit the /etc/environment)

    Thanks a lot

  8. Linerd says:

    Fer - I just tried this on Jaunty and it worked for me. My computer has been upgraded from 8.04 to 8.10 to 9.04. I don't know if it would be different on a fresh install.

    My /etc/environment file looks like this:

  9. Linerd says:

    Fer - I have not tried this yet in Jaunty. I'll try to take a look at it tonight and see what's going on.

  10. Fer says:

    Sorry commenting out of subject, but I could't find a "contact" link.
    In past December you posted about how to "Change the Week Start Day in Ubuntu". It is not working for me in Jaunty. Does it change something from Hardy or I'm doing something wrong? Did you try in Jaunty? Same way? Thanks a lot.

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