ntpd(1)                                                                ntpd(1)


       ntpd - Network Time Protocol (NTP) daemon


       ntpd  [  -aAbdgLmNPqx  ] [ -c conffile  ] [ -f driftfile  ] [ -g ] [ -k
       keyfile  ] [ -l logfile  ] [ -N high ] [ -p pidfile  ] [ -r  broadcast-
       delay  ] [ -s statsdir  ] [ -t key  ] [ -v variable  ] [ -V variable  ]
       [ -T chroot_dir  ] [ -u server_user  ] [ -x ]


       The ntpd  program is an operating system daemon which  sets  and  main-
       tains the system time of day in synchronism with Internet standard time
       servers. It is a complete implementation of the Network  Time  Protocol
       (NTP)  version  4,  but  also  retains compatibility with version 3, as
       defined by RFC-1305, and version 1 and 2, as defined  by  RFC-1059  and
       RFC-1119,  respectively.  ntpd  does most computations in 64-bit float-
       ing point arithmetic and does  relatively  clumsy  64-bit  fixed  point
       operations  only  when  necessary  to  preserve the ultimate precision,
       about 232 picoseconds. While the ultimate precision, is not  achievable
       with  ordinary  workstations  and networks of today, it may be required
       with future gigahertz CPU clocks and gigabit LANs.


       The ntpd  program operates by exchanging messages with one or more con-
       figured servers at designated poll intervals. When started, whether for
       the first or subsequent times, the program requires  several  exahanges
       from the majority of these servers so the signal processing and mitiga-
       tion algorithms can accumulate and groom the data and set the clock. In
       order to protect the network from bursts, the initial poll interval for
       each server is delayed  an  interval  randomized  over  0-16s.  At  the
       default initial poll interval of 64s, several minutes can elapse before
       the clock is set. The initial delay to set the  clock  can  be  reduced
       using  the  iburst   keyword with the server  configuration command, as
       described on the Configuration Options page.

       Most operating systems and hardware of today incorporate a time-of-year
       (TOY)  chip  to maintain the time during periods when the power is off.
       When the machine is booted, the chip is used to initialize the  operat-
       ing  system  time.  After the machine has synchronized to a NTP server,
       the operating system corrects the chip from time to time. In case there
       is  no TOY chip or for some reason its time is more than 1000s from the
       server time, ntpd  assumes something must be  terribly  wrong  and  the
       only reliable action is for the operator to intervene and set the clock
       by hand. This causes ntpd  to exit with a panic message to  the  system
       log.  The  -g  option overrides this check and the clock will be set to
       the server time regardless of the chip time.  However, and  to  protect
       against  broken  hardware,  such  as when the CMOS battery fails or the
       clock counter becomes defective, once the clock has been set, an  error
       greater than 1000s will cause ntpd  to exit anyway.

       Under  ordinariy  conditions, ntpd  adjusts the clock in small steps so
       that the timescale is effectively continuous  and  without  discontinu-
       ities.  Under  conditions  of extreme network congestion, the roundtrip
       delay jitter can exceed three seconds and the synchronization distance,
       which is equal to one-half the roundtrip delay plus error budget terms,
       can become very large. The  ntpd   algorithms  discard  sample  offsets
       exceeding  128 ms, unless the interval during which no sample offset is
       less than 128 ms exceeds 900s. The first sample after that,  no  matter
       what  the  offset,  steps  the clock to the indicated time. In practice
       this reduces the false alarm rate where the clock is stepped  in  error
       to a vanishingly low incidence.

       As  the  result  of this behavior, once the clock has been set, it very
       rarely strays more than 128 ms, even under  extreme  cases  of  network
       path  congestion  and  jitter.  Sometimes,  in particular when ntpd  is
       first started, the error might exceed 128  ms.  This  may  on  occasion
       cause  the  clock  to  be set backwards if the local clock time is more
       than 128 s in the future relative to the server.  In some applications,
       this behavior may be unacceptable. If the -x  option is included on the
       command line, the clock will never be stepped and only slew corrections
       will be used.

       The  issues  should be carefully explored before deciding to use the -x
       option. The maximum slew rate possible is limited to 500 parts-per-mil-
       lion  (PPM) as a consequence of the correctness principles on which the
       NTP protocol and algorithm design are based. As  a  result,  the  local
       clock  can  take a long time to converge to an acceptable offset, about
       2,000 s for each second the clock is outside the acceptable range. Dur-
       ing this interval the local clock will not be consistent with any other
       network clock and the system cannot be used  for  distributed  applica-
       tions that require correctly synchronized network time.

       In  spite  of  the  above  precautions,  sometimes when large frequency
       errors are present the resulting time offsets stray outside the  128-ms
       range and an eventual step or slew time correction is required. If fol-
       lowing such a correction the frequency error is so large that the first
       sample  is outside the acceptable range, ntpd  enters the same state as
       when the ntp.drift  file is not present. The intent of this behavior is
       to  quickly  correct  the frequency and restore operation to the normal
       tracking mode. In the most extreme cases ( time.ien.it  comes to mind),
       there  may be occasional step/slew corrections and subsequent frequency
       corrections. It helps in these cases to use  the  burst   keyword  when
       configuring the server.


       The  ntpd   behavior  at startup depends on whether the frequency file,
       usually ntp.drift , exists. This file contains the latest  estimate  of
       clock  frequency error. When the ntpd  is started and the file does not
       exist, the ntpd  enters a special mode designed to quickly adapt to the
       particular system clock oscillator time and frequency error. This takes
       approximately 15 minutes, after which the time and frequency are set to
       nominal  values  and  the  ntpd  enters normal mode, where the time and
       frequency are continuously tracked relative to the  server.  After  one
       hour  the  frequency  file  is created and the current frequency offset
       written to it. When the ntpd  is started and the file does  exist,  the
       ntpd   frequency  is  initialized  from the file and enters normal mode
       immediately. After that the current frequency offset is written to  the
       file at hourly intervals.


       ntpd   can  operate  in  any  of  several  modes,  including  symmetric
       active/passive,  client/server  broadcast/multicast  and  manycast,  as
       described in the Association Management page. It normally operates con-
       tinuously while monitoring for small changes in frequency and  trimming
       the clock for the ultimate precision. However, it can operate in a one-
       time mode where the time is set from an external server  and  frequency
       is set from a previously recorded frequency file. A broadcast/multicast
       or manycast client can discover remote servers,  compute  server-client
       propagation  delay  correction  factors  and configure itself automati-
       cally. This makes it possible to deploy a fleet of workstations without
       specifying configuration details specific to the local environment.

       By  default,  ntpd  runs in continuous mode where each of possibly sev-
       eral external servers is polled at intervals determined by an intricate
       state  machine.  The  state  machine  measures the incidental roundtrip
       delay jitter and oscillator frequency wander and  determines  the  best
       poll  interval  using  a  heuristic algorithm.  Ordinarily, and in most
       operating environments, the state machine will start with 64s intervals
       and  eventually  increase  in  steps to 1024s. A small amount of random
       variation is introduced in order to avoid bunching at the  servers.  In
       addition,  should  a  server become unreachable for some time, the poll
       interval is increased in steps to 1024s  in  order  to  reduce  network

       In  some cases it may not be practical for ntpd  to run continuously. A
       common workaround has been to run the ntpdate  program from a cron  job
       at  designated  times.  However, this program does not have the crafted
       signal processing, error checking and mitigation algorithms of  ntpd  .
       The  -q   option is intended for this purpose. Setting this option will
       cause ntpd  to exit just after setting the clock for  the  first  time.
       The procedure for initially setting the clock is the same as in contin-
       uous mode; most applications will probably want to specify  the  iburst
       keyword  with  the  server   configuration command. With this keyword a
       volley of messages are exchanged to groom the data and the clock is set
       in  about  a minute. If nothing is heard after a couple of minutes, the
       daemon times out and exits. After a suitable period  of  mourning,  the
       ntpdate  program may be retired.

       When  kernel  support  is  available to discipline the clock frequency,
       which is the case for stock Solaris, Tru64, Linux and FreeBSD, a useful
       feature is available to discipline the clock frequency. First, ntpd  is
       run in continuous mode with selected servers in order  to  measure  and
       record  the  intrinsic clock frequency offset in the frequency file. It
       may take some hours for the frequency and offset to settle  down.  Then
       the  ntpd   is  stopped  and  run in one-time mode as required. At each
       startup, the frequency is read from the file and initializes the kernel


       This  version  of NTP includes an intricate state machine to reduce the
       network load while maintaining a quality of synchronization  consistent
       with  the  observed  jitter  and wander.  There are a number of ways to
       tailor the operation in order enhance accuracy by reducing the interval
       or  to  reduce  network overhead by increasing it. However, the user is
       advised to carefully consider the consequenses  of  changing  the  poll
       adjustment  range from the default minimum of 64 s to the default maxi-
       mum of 1,024 s. The default minimum can be changed with the tinker min-
       poll  command to a value not less than 16 s. This value is used for all
       configured associations, unless overriden by the minpoll option on  the
       configuration  command.  Note that most device drivers will not operate
       properly if the poll interval is less than 64 s and that the  broadcast
       server  and  manycast  client  associations  will also use the default,
       unless overriden.

       In some cases involving dial up or toll services, it may be  useful  to
       increase  the  minimum  interval  to  a few tens of minutes and maximum
       interval to a day or so. Under normal operation  conditions,  once  the
       clock  discipline loop has stabilized the interval will be increased in
       steps from the minumum  to  the  maximum.  However,  this  assumes  the
       intrinsic clock frequency error is small enough for the discipline loop
       correct it. The capture range of the loop is 500 PPM at an interval  of
       64s  decreasing  by a factor of two for each doubling of interval. At a
       minimum of 1,024 s, for example, the capture range is only 31  PPM.  If
       the  intrinsic  error  is  greater  than this, the drift file ntp.drift
       will have to be specially tailored to reduce the residual  error  below
       this  limit. Once this is done, the drift file is automatically updated
       once per hour and is available to initialize the  frequency  on  subse-
       quent daemon restarts.


       In  scenarios  where a considerable amount of data are to be downloaded
       or uploaded over telephone modems, timekeeping quality can be seriously
       degraded. This occurs because the differential delays on the two direc-
       tions of transmission can be quite large. In many  cases  the  apparent
       time  errors  are  so  large as to exceed the step threshold and a step
       correction can occur during and after the data transfer is in progress.

       The huff-n’-puff filter is designed to correct the apparent time offset
       in these cases. It depends on knowledge of the propagation  delay  when
       no  other  traffic  is  present. In common scenarios this occurs during
       other than work hours. The  filter  maintains  a  shift  register  that
       remembers the minimum delay over the most recent interval measured usu-
       ally in hours. Under conditions of severe delay,  the  filter  corrects
       the  apparent  offset  using  the sign of the offset and the difference
       between the apparent delay and minimum delay. The name  of  the  filter
       reflects  the  negative  (huff)  and  positive (puff) correction, which
       depends on the sign of the offset.

       The filter is activated by the tinker  command and  huffpuff   keyword,
       as described in the Miscellaneous Options page.


       If NetInfo support is built into ntpd , then ntpd  will attempt to read
       its configuration from the NetInfo if the default ntp.conf file  cannot
       be read and no file is specified by the -c  option.

       Various  internal  ntpd   variables  can be displayed and configuration
       options altered while the ntpd  is running using the  ntpq   and  ntpdc
       utility programs.

       When  ntpd   starts  it  looks at the value of umask , and if zero ntpd
       will set the umask to 022 .


       -a      Enable authentication mode (default).

       -A      Disable authentication mode.

       -b      Synchronize using NTP broadcast messages.

       -c      conffile Specify the name and path of the  configuration  file.
               (Disable netinfo?)

       -d      Specify  debugging  mode.  This  flag may occur multiple times,
               with each occurrence indicating greater detail of display.

       -D      level Specify debugging level directly.

       -f      driftfile Specify the name and path of the drift file.

       -g      Normally, ntpd  exits if the offset exceeds the  sanity  limit,
               which is 1000 s by default. If the sanity limit is set to zero,
               no sanity checking is performed and any offset  is  acceptable.
               This  option  overrides the limit and allows the time to be set
               to any value without restriction; however, this can happen only
               once.   After  that,  ntpd  will exit if the limit is exceeded.
               This option can be used with the -q  option.

       -k      keyfile Specify the name and path of the  file  containing  the
               NTP authentication keys.

       -l      logfile  Specify the name and path of the log file. The default
               is the system log facility.

       -L      Listen to virtual IPs.

       -m      Synchronize using NTP multicast messages on  the  IP  multicast
               group address (requires multicast kernel).

       -n      Don’t fork.

       -N      priority  To  the extent permitted by the operating system, run
               the ntpd  at a high priority.

       -p      pidfile Specify the name and path to record the ntpd ’s process

       -P      Override  the  priority  limit set by the operating system. Not
               recommended for sissies.

       -q      Exit the ntpd  just after the first time the clock is set. This
               behavior  mimics  that  of the ntpdate  program, which is to be
               retired. The -g  and -x  options can be used with this  option.

       -r      broadcastdelay  Specify  the default propagation delay from the
               broadcast/multicast server and this computer. This is necessary
               only  if the delay cannot be computed automatically by the pro-

       -s      statsdir Specify the directory path for files  created  by  the
               statistics facility.

       -t      key Add a key number to the trusted key list.

       -T      chroot_dir  Chroot  the ntpd server process into chroot_dir. To
               use this option you have to copy all the files that  ntpd  pro-
               cess needs into the chroot directory. This option adds security
               only if the server also drops root privileges (see -u  option).

       -u      server_user Ntpd process drops root privileges and changes user
               ID to  server_user  and  group  ID  to  the  primary  group  of

       -v      variable

       -V      variable Add a system variable listed by default.

       -x      Normally,  the  time  is  slewed if the offset is less than the
               step threshold, which is 128 ms  by  default,  and  stepped  if
               above  the  threshold. This option forces the time to be slewed
               in all cases. If the step threshold is set to zero, all offsets
               are  stepped,  regardless  of  value  and  regardless of the -x
               option. In general, this is not a good idea, as it bypasses the
               clock  state  machine which is designed to cope with large time
               and frequency errors Note: Since the slew rate  is  limited  to
               0.5  ms/s,  each  second of adjustment requires an amortization
               interval of 2000 s. Thus, an adjustment  of  many  seconds  can
               take  hours  or  days to amortize. This option can be used with
               the -q  option.


       Ordinarily, ntpd  reads the ntp.conf configuration file at startup time
       in  order to determine the synchronization sources and operating modes.
       It is also possible to specify a working, although limited,  configura-
       tion  entirely on the command line, obviating the need for a configura-
       tion file. This may be particularly useful when the local host is to be
       configured as a broadcast/multicast client, with all peers being deter-
       mined by listening to broadcasts at run time.

       Usually, the configuration file is installed in  the  /etc   directory,
       but  could  be  installed elsewhere (see the -c conffile   command line
       option). The file format is similar to other Unix configuration files -
       comments  begin  with a #  character and extend to the end of the line;
       blank lines are ignored.

       Configuration commands consist of an initial keyword followed by a list
       of  arguments,  some of which may be optional, separated by whitespace.
       Commands may not be continued over multiple lines.   Arguments  may  be
       host  names, host addresses written in numeric, dotted-quad form, inte-
       gers, floating point numbers (when specifying  times  in  seconds)  and
       text strings. Optional arguments are delimited by [ ]  in the following
       descriptions, while alternatives are separated by | .  The  notation  [
       ...   ]   means  an  optional,  indefinite  repetition of the last item
       before the [ ... ] .


       /etc/ntp/ntp.conf  - the default name of the configuration file

       /var/lib/ntp/drift  - the default name of the drift file

       /etc/ntp/keys  - the default name of the key file


       ntpd  has gotten rather fat. While not huge, it has gotten larger  than
       might be desirable for an elevated-priority ntpd  running on a worksta-
       tion, particularly since many of the fancy features which  consume  the
       space were designed more with a busy primary server, rather than a high
       stratum workstation in mind.


       Primary source of documentation: /usr/share/doc/ntp-*/ntpd.html


       David L. Mills <mills@udel.edu>

ntp 4.1.1b-r5                                                          ntpd(1)

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