# What's a smart way to count the number of days since X?

I started working at my current position since November 17th 2014. I would like to know how many days have run up to now. Any ideas on how to use Linux to come up with a simple and nice solution?

• I ended up doing something similar in a perl script; I used the timelocal() function to get the number of seconds from the epoch to the given date (Nov 17, 2014 for example), then subtracted that from the current epoch-date-in-seconds, then divided by 86400 (seconds in a day). I'm sure someone will come through with a shell-only solution :) Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 14:25
• Time arithmetic has lots of fiddly special cases. While simple things like subtracting UNIX timestamps and dividing by 86,400 will give you an approximate answer, you are better off using a specialized time library that takes into account the special cases, for example Python's `dateutil`.
– Reid
Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:16
• Some of the answers in Quickly calculate date differences may help here too. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:36
• @msh210 you are banned for life and sentenced to prison for 1 month while serving community as code cleaner for ancient COBOL code. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 8:46

## 4 Answers

``````echo \$(( (`date +%s` - `date +%s -d '2014/11/17'`) / 86400 )) days ago
``````
• This gets leap seconds wrong. I mean, that hardly matters now, but in 10k years or so the accumulated error could be enough to matter. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:07
• The probability leap seconds will trigger an error in about .000001%. This is negligible compared to the wrong number of days this method will give with locales where daylight saving time is observed: 2% of the cases ... Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 21:04
• @Kevin: If he wants to know how many days he worked somewhere, we can (until further advance in cryogenisation or medicine) not bother too much about this ^^ Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 0:37
• @jlliagre: %s is Unix time, which is always UTC, which lacks DST. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 1:14
• Chances are he will be wondering about the number of days employed while idling behind his desk at work. As that's probably not around midnight but somewhere between 8am and 5pm (and `date -d 2014/11/17` gives a timestamp of midnight as there's no time mentioned) DST doesn't matter. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 7:32

Well, on the face of it:

``````\$ date --date="-239 days"
Mon Nov 17 15:25:40 CET 2014
``````

In a script (not very efficient, but... maybe it handles leap seconds? ;) )

``````i=0
result=""
while [ "\$result" != "20141117" ]
do
i=\$((i+1))
result=\$(date --date="-\$i days" +%Y%m%d)
done
echo "\$i" days have passed since "\$result"
``````
• Even `ago` is understood: `date --date="239 days ago"` Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:40
• @DigitalTrauma too bad it's not localized. E.g. `LC_ALL=ru_RU.utf8 date --date="239 дней назад"` gives me the same result as `date --date="239"`. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 4:31
• @Ruslan indeed :) Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 5:24

I tried python on the command line.

``````\$ python -c "import datetime; print datetime.date.today() - datetime.date(2014,11,17)"
246 days, 0:00:00
``````

Here is example with PHP:

``````<?php
\$o1 = date_create('2014-11-17');
\$o2 = date_create();
\$o3 = date_diff(\$o2, \$o1);
echo 'days: ', \$o3->days, "\n";
``````

Result:

``````days: 1927
``````

https://php.net/function.date-diff