[ntp:questions] Re: tinker step 0 (always slew) and kernel time discipline

Richard B. Gilbert rgilbert88 at comcast.net
Fri Sep 22 00:09:17 UTC 2006

Joe Harvell wrote:

> Okay, I'll stick with this thread.
> I plan to use "tinker step 0" to prevent step corrections on an NTP 
> client only host.  I am only expecting large offsets in certain failure 
> scenarios.  In these scenarios, operator intervention is required and 
> the clock will be stepped manually as part of a much larger procedure.
<big snip>

How about designing your NTP subnet in such a way as to prevent these 
failures in the first place?

Since you say, elsewhere, that you are more concerned that time be 
strictly monotonically increasing than that it be accurate perhaps you 
don't need NTP at all; set your local clock from your wrist watch once a 
week while the application is not running

Your original problem, IIRC, resulted from an extremely poor design of 
your NTP subnet; two servers each serving its unsynchronized local clock 
and drifting apart.

If you really do need NTP the easiest configuration is for your client 
to use from four to seven servers.  Those servers should be stratum 2 
internet servers (rules of engagement prohibit use of public stratum 1 
servers unless you are serving 100 or more clients).  This requires that 
you study the list of public stratum two servers at 
  to find four to seven servers within, say, 300 miles of your site and 
adding these servers to your ntp.conf file.  It also requires a 
connection to the internet that allows port 123 in both directions.  If 
you specify the numeric IP address of each server, you need not open any 
other port in the firewall.  If you wish to use domain names, the you 
will have to open the port(s) necessary to allow DNS to work (don't know 
which ones offhand.

The simplest configuration is to make the machine running the 
application a stratum 1 server by installing ntpd and a GPS timing 
receiver as a hardware reference clock.  The weakness of this 
configuration is that the GPS receiver becomes a single point of 
failure; if it dies, you rapidly lose any claim to accuracy.  Since you 
don't insist on accuracy perhaps this would not be a problem.  Actually, 
ntpd would continue to discipline the clock using the last known 
frequency correction so you would have several hours of "hold over" 
before your clock drifted significantly (assuming a controlled 
temperature in your data center).

You can increase the reliability by using four GPS timing receivers to 
synchronize four NTP servers and configuring your client to use those 
four servers.

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