Getting Tomorrow’s Date in Bash: A Practical Walkthrough

In the world of system administration and shell scripting, the ability to manipulate dates and times is crucial. Whether it’s for scheduling tasks, log rotation, or simply timestamping files, an understanding of how to work with dates in your scripts can save a lot of time and effort. Bash, the Bourne Again Shell, comes with a powerful set of tools for this purpose.

In this article, we’ll explore a practical example: how to get tomorrow’s date using Bash. There are multiple ways to achieve this, and we’ll walk through a few examples using core utilities like date and GNU date.

The Date Command in Bash

The date command in Bash is a versatile tool that allows you to format and manipulate dates. By default, it displays the current date and time when executed without any arguments.

date 

Wed May 15 10:34:12 UTC 2023

But the true power of the date command comes from its formatting and manipulation options. By using the -d (or --date) option, you can specify a date string that date will use instead of the current date. This date string can be a fixed date, like “2023-05-15”, or a relative date like “yesterday” or “next week”.

Getting Tomorrow’s Date

To get tomorrow’s date, you can use the date command with the -d option and the string “tomorrow”.

date -d "tomorrow" 

Thu May 16 10:34:12 UTC 2023

This command will display the date and time 24 hours from now. If you only want the date, you can use the + option to format the output:

date -d "tomorrow" '+%Y-%m-%d' 

2023-05-16

The `+%Y-%m-%d` option tells date to format the output as “Year-Month-Day”, which is a common and useful date format.

Cross-Platform Considerations

While the above solution works well on GNU/Linux systems, it might not work on all Unix-like systems. For instance, macOS uses the BSD version of date, which does not support the -d option. However, BSD date has the -v option, which allows you to adjust the value of a particular time component. To get tomorrow’s date on a system with BSD date, you could use:

date -v+1d '+%Y-%m-%d' 

2023-05-16

Here, `-v+1d` tells date to add one to the current date’s day component.

Conclusion

In this article, we explored how to get tomorrow’s date in Bash using the date command and its various options. Whether you’re working on a GNU/Linux system or a Unix-like system with BSD date, these techniques can help you manipulate dates effectively in your scripts.

Remember, date manipulation is a vast topic, and we’ve only just scratched the surface here. The date command has many more options and possibilities. To explore further, check out the man page by typing man date into your terminal, or look up the online documentation for your system’s version of date.

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