[ntp:questions] Re: Mac OS X + ntpd?

brad at shub-internet.org brad at shub-internet.org
Tue Feb 1 15:20:49 UTC 2005

Pete Stephenson <pete+usenet at heypete.com> wrote:

> I expect, of course, to do the various administration and configuration
> from the commandline and whatnot. The one problem is that ntpd doesn't
> automatically start at system boot unless the box in the Date & Time
> control panel is ticked, which will write over the ntp.conf file and
> obliterate any configuration.

Yeah, I've had that problem myself.  There's code down in
/System/Library/StartupItems/NetworkTime/NetworkTime that runs "ntpdate
-bvs" and then fires up "ntpd -g -f /var/run/ntp.drift -p
/var/run/ntpd.pid".  It's easy enough to comment out the starting of
"ntpdate", and I haven't had an Apple OS upgrade yet that touched this
file, but you have to assume that will happen some day.

However, I have yet to figure out where they are re-writing the ntp.conf
file.  Once I figure that out, it should be an easy matter to keep them
from "fixing" the configuration that I have carefully created.

> Is there any way to have ntpd start normally at system start as if it
> were running on a "real" FreeBSD machine? Hopefully any changes would be
> easily reversible to resort back to "normal" OS X behavior once I get
> the actual timeserver up and running?

So far as I know, the only mechanism to get it started on boot is the
standard MacOS X method, which you are familiar with.  You could create
your own startup method, of course.

> Needless to say, a Soekris box with FreeBSD, ntpd and (possibly, if I
> can find a CF card big enough) Apache and an MTA would do quite well at
> replacing the Cobalt for timekeeping/minimal http service, would consume
> less power, and make /far/ less fan noise (does the box even have a fan?
> It doesn't look like it).

No, the Soekris doesn't have a fan.  But then, because it's running on a
CompactFlash device, it doesn't make a good place to run an MTA or a web
server, because there are too many things that these kinds of programs do
on a daily basis that require changes to the underlying filesystem.  You're
much better off running programs like ntpd on this kind of a system, where
no frequent changes to the filesystem need to be made, and to send all log
data, etc... over to another machine, which is presumably also the one with
the MTA, web server, etc....  That other server could be an ntpd client of
the Soekris box, of course.

Soekris works well as a firewall or application server which does not
require frequent changes to the filesystem.  It does not work well in other

Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania.

  SAGE member since 1995.  See <http://www.sage.org/> for more info.

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