[ntp:questions] ntpq +rv

David L. Mills mills at udel.edu
Wed May 30 17:35:19 UTC 2007

Danny, This question has come up several times in recent weeks. I don't 
know why it was a secret for so long.

What is (unfortunately) called noise in the rv billboard is the 
exponential average of the first-order clock discipline differences. 
This is the control mechanism used to adjust the poll interval and 
perhaps the best measure of the peformance as a whole. Put another way, 
if the clock discipline offset is the maximum likelihood estimate of the 
clock error, the noise is the expected error in this estimate.

What is (unfortunately) called error in the billboard is the result of 
the intricate error budget described in the book, NTPv4 reference and 
implementation guide on the project page and the current NTPv4 
specification draft. This statistic is a compilation of errors due to 
very many causes and is intended as a thermometer to assess the 
performance of the various algorithms. Think of error as the raw 
thunderstorm battering the client and noise as the constant rain after 
the mitigation algorithms.

Please tell your friends.


Danny Mayer wrote:
> Laurent Archambault wrote:
>>With the command ligne "ntpq -c rv", it's possible to see the variable
>>not for localhost and not for old version of ntpq.
>>But i don't known what is this "noise" for the NTP, and i must explain this
>>for make an private network.
> That's an excellent question. Initially I thought you meant jitter but
> looking at the -c rv output those are different. I don't see it
> documented anywhere.
> Looking at the source code it seems that noise is defined to be the
> clock offset jitter while jitter seems to be the system jitter. I can't
> explain this any better, I can only look at the source code. Dave should
> be able to provide a good explanation.
> Danny
>>Note : the documentation on "ee.udel.edu" don't explain this for "ntpq"...
>>Thank for all.
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