[ntp:questions] Tricking NTP's driftfile

Steven sed_facebook at vt.edu
Mon Jun 23 22:11:18 UTC 2008

System Information:
At work, I am configuring a system which consists of six servers (master,
slave1, ... slave5) networked together but kept isolated from any external

The ONLY time requirement is that all the systems have the same time, which does
NOT need to be accurate, just consistent.

All servers run RHEL4 and use ntp-4.2.0.a.20040617-6.el4.

All systems: (all files owned by root unless specified)
  /etc/ntp.conf 644
    server master # LINE NOT INCLUDED ON master
    driftfile /var/lib/ntp/drift
    broadcastdelay 0.08

 /etc/ntp           755
 /etc/ntp/keys      600: Only commented lines
 /etc/ntpservers    644: Default (redhat time servers)
 /etc/step-tickers  644: slave: master, master: empty
 /var/lib/ntp/drift 644 (ntp:ntp): 0.0

While the master goes through its synchronization routine (~10 mins), the slaves
cannot obtain the time (see below).  Even after the master is responsive, the
drift file is not written to.
[root at slave1 ~]# ntpdate -d master
... Server dropped: strata too high
23 Jun 17:28:33 ntpdate [3343]: no server suitable for synchronization found

I have tried adjusting the driftfile manually, and /var/log/messages shows the
frequency initialized 0.001 PPM from /var/lib/ntp/drift

However, the synchronization routine still runs.

How do I 'trick' ntpd into thinking it has already performed the synchronization
therefore not completing the routine?

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