Dispelling myths... (was: Re: [ntp:questions] Re: ntp sanity limit kills ntp daily)

Brad Knowles brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Tue May 24 15:28:33 UTC 2005

At 4:00 PM +0200 2005-05-24, Ulrich Windl quoted David Woolley:

>>  Linux and Windows both have a poor reputation for losing clock interrupts.
>  Please remind me to answer that after having implemented the Linux clock on a
>  different hardware (autumn, maybe). Most of the time the hardware 
>is crap, not
>  the software.

	The hardware is frequently crap, yes.

	However, the default configurations for the OS as shipped by most 
vendors is also problematical.  Linux is capable of doing pretty 
well, if the underlying hardware is capable of supporting that.  But 
the default configurations as shipped by most vendors don't allow the 
software to do that, unless you're willing to configure your own 

	There are five issues:

		1.  What the hardware is capable of
		2.  What the default configuration is for hardware as shipped 
by most vendors

	All OSes on the same hardware will share these problems.

		3.  What the OS and software are capable of
		4.  What the default configuration is for the OS and 
software, as shipped by most vendors

	These problems are unique to Linux, although other OSes may have 
similar problems that they also share.

		5.  What the users are capable of doing with the hardware and 
software that is shipped to them

	Here, Linux is a victim of its own popularity.  The average Linux 
user is going to be more of a neophyte than many on this 
newsgroup/mailing list, and therefore less likely to be able to deal 
with basic problems.  However, they are also more likely to want to 
have their machine keep proper time, so you're going to see a lot of 
them.  Get over it.

	The average user of Windows is unlikely to be even trying to keep 
their clock in sync, much less using even SNTP, and heaven forfend 
that they attempt to use a real full-blown NTP server or client. 
Most of them may be passingly familiar with e-mail, but are unlikely 
to know about mailing lists, and almost certainly know nothing about 
anything as archaic as USENET news.  You will see very, very few 
Windows users here.

	The average user of other OSes on the same PC hardware is more 
likely to be more experienced, simply because those other user 
communities are so much smaller.  They have to be more experienced, 
because there are so few other people who can help them with whatever 
problem they may have.  Therefore, they are less likely to need help 
with basic issues.

	When discussing these kinds of problems, it's easy to get these 
five mixed up.  However, it's important for us to keep them separate, 
both in our own mind and in our discussions on the subject, 
especially when we try to dispel myths in this long-running cat-fight.

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

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

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

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