NTP, configuring

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After installing Ntp, you'll want to configure it properly. Remember to allow TCP and UDP ports 123 if you're firewalling the client/server.


NTP Clients

If you're a client, you'll need to listen locally if you've got an NTP server locally to get the time. To start, edit /etc/ntp.conf and make sure it has something like this in it:

# Because the computer clocks drift, keep the drift info somewhere:
driftfile /etc/ntp.drift 

# if we are a client that listens to NTP broadcasts on the LAN, uncomment this line:

# Let's setup a log file for NTP:
logfile /var/log/ntp.log

NTP Servers

First, synchronize to a known good time server -- there are many listed at, and due to common sense and politeness, I won't list one particular server here, but [the US Navy] has some servers available -- be sure to read their policies for allowed use. Once you've got a server that you can use, run


and your system will update to that time. You may want to verify that the time is correct, if you've got a Java-capable browser handy, [] will give you the correct time for the timezone you're in.

Once you've got that done, find a server that you can update from regularly -- be sure you've read through [the documentation] and obtained permission to use the server (seriously, this is important, folks have no sense of humor about this, see links below for why) -- it's time to set up your /etc/ntpd.conf which will at a minimum need to have three lines:

server prefer
driftfile /var/db/ntpd.drift
restrict default ignore

The server line may be repeated, and if you leave out the "prefer" keyword and have multiple server lines, then you'll round-robin through the list. If you have multiple server lines and leave the "prefer" keyword in, you'll only go to the other servers (without the "prefer") if your "preferred" server can't be reached.

(stub on how to use restrict)

Now that you've configured your ntp.conf file and want to use your server, start up the program manually:

# ntpd -p /var/run/

Auto-starting ntpd

Edit your /etc/rc.conf and add this to the end;

# ntpd sets the time in small increments, ntpdate sets the time
# no matter how large the discrepancy is. If you're running ntpd
# you'll want to weigh the risks of getting a wildly different time
# given to your system from whatever system _you_ are getting the
# time from. If you're polling time data from absolutely known-good
# servers, it might not be a bad idea to get the time from them on boot-up.
# If you want to do that, uncomment this line;
# ntpdate_enable="NO"
# turn on the ntp daemon:
# The NTP program is located here:
# and we want to use it with these options; see man page for details
ntpd_flags="-A -g -N -c /etc/ntp.conf -p /var/run/ -l /var/log/ntpd.log"

Note: ntpd_enable was xntpd_enable in older FreeBSD releases (before FreeBSD-5). If you're running FreeBSD-4, replace every instance of ntpd with xntpd (xntpd_enable="YES", for example).

NTP etiquette

The N stands for Network, but if you've got your own network, it behooves you -- and you're expected to -- either keep an ntp server for it or use one that you're allowed to; your ISP's or one you setup yourself. NTP stratum 1 servers are neither ubiquitous nor fair use for everyone. If you have a GPS or atomic-clock enabled server, then you can run your own stratum 1 server. More than likely you'll want to run a stratum 3 (or higher) server for your network, and you'll want to pull time from stratum 2 or 1 servers that are more accurate for you.

Horror stories on why you want to only use servers you're allowed to:

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