The week starts on...

Volume 9, Issue 11; 26 Jan 2006; last modified 08 Oct 2010

I recognize that it may not be the most logical system, but like pounds and inches, miles-per-hour, and the Fahrenheit temperature scale, I'm used to weeks starting on Sunday.

At some point, probably when I installed Ubuntu, but possibly at some point after that, Gnome decided that the week began on Monday. Like the calendars my Mom sends me from England occasionally, this confuses me to no end.

My first impulse was to report this as a bug against the applications where I noticed it, but I soon realized the problem was deeper: it was down in the locale system somewhere.

I searched, mostly fruitlessly, for a solution to the problem. I even tried to fix the locale files locally, without success. This morning, I tried again and this time I've succeeded. Here's what worked for me:

  1. In /usr/share/i18n/locales/en_US, change the week setting from “7;19971201;4” to “7;19971130;5”. The relevant bit is the change from 1 Dec 1997, a Monday, to 30 Nov 1997, a Sunday. The leading 7 is for the number of days in a week, I believe, and the trailing 5 says that the week number calculation is based on the first week that contains a Thursday. (If Sunday is day 1, then Thursday is day 5.)

  2. Run dpkg-reconfigure locales.

  3. Logout and log back in again.

I hope this helps someone. If nothing else, it'll help me next time the locales get updated and the first day reverts to Monday again.


Bizarre -- it had never occurred to me that when the week started would vary from country to country, let alone that it would be included (hard-coded!) in the locale files.

Personally, I like the idea of the (work) week starting on a Monday, and set electronic calendars I'm using to start on Monday. That way I get Saturday and Sunday together, and they seem like a wonderfully luxurious work-free (ha!) time.

In the past, I've worked weekends and had Monday and Tuesday off, so being able to set calendars to reflect that would also have been good.

Locale issues seem to be on people's minds lately -- there have been various comments on Debian-related weblogs (via Planet Debian).

—Posted by Claire on 26 Jan 2006 @ 04:38 UTC #

Arranging one's calendar to start on Monday (or even Saturday) appeals to me from a strictly logical point of view. But thirty-some-odd years of looking at calendars that begin on Sunday would make switching a real challenge. Especially when you consider that almost every other calendar I see in the United States is going to start on Sunday.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 26 Jan 2006 @ 05:13 UTC #

Weeks that start on Monday are an ISO standard.

—Posted by John Cowan on 26 Jan 2006 @ 07:07 UTC #

The CLDR defines the first day of week for an amazing number of locales.


—Posted by Danny Wahlquist on 26 Jan 2006 @ 08:43 UTC #

And what about

$ reportbug locales

Is there reportbug in Ubuntu?


—Posted by Matej Cepl on 27 Jan 2006 @ 06:24 UTC #

I have reported the bug. Thanks for the nudge :-)

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 30 Jan 2006 @ 09:24 UTC #

Thanks for reporting the bug; I'd like to track the status of it, but I can't find it. Did you report it to gnome or debian or ubuntu? I don't see you among people registered with launchpad named walsh.

—Posted by Dan Connolly on 17 Feb 2006 @ 05:40 UTC #

I ran report-bug on my Ubuntu box. But a quick scan of my mail archives does not provide confirmation that it was ever received. At least, I didn't get the automated reply I would have expected.

Sigh. Time for another try, I guess.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 17 Feb 2006 @ 08:36 UTC #

There: Bug 31814.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 17 Feb 2006 @ 08:42 UTC #