[ntp:questions] Finding out where ntpd gets its ntp.conf file

Joseph Gwinn joegwinn at comcast.net
Wed Sep 3 13:26:17 UTC 2008

We had been struggling with NTP running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 
(RHEL) on IBM-built Intel boxes, specifically with getting NTP to 
generate loopstats and peerstats files.  Basically, nothing worked, 
despite many attempts.  

Yesterday, I cracked it while working on the problem with one of the 
sysadmins.  The ntp.config file was very complex, and I suspected it of 
being mostly flotsam and jetsam from prior uses, and probably in 
conflict with itself, so we cleaned it down to maybe three lines, and 
then stopped and started ntpd using the "service" utility.

The daemon started, but complained that it was unable to synchronize.  
The sysadmin mentioned that it very often did this, for unknown reasons.  
Then I noticed that the timeserver IP address was not the same as 
specified in the simplified ntp.conf file, and sure enough the address 
that NTP was trying to use was not accessible to ping.

Hmm.  Huh?  NTP cannot be using the ntp.conf file we thought it was.  
Tried starting NTP manually with -c option and providing the full path 
to our ntp.conf file.  Success!

Read the "service" shell script.  It appears to get its file paths from 
environment variables named after the thing being started and stopped 
and accessible only in the root environment; this bit of RHEL-specific 
structure is being chased down.  (Does anyone know where this is 

Which brings me to a question:  How does one get NTP to tell you exactly 
where it is getting such things as the ntp.conf file from, all without 
being able to find or see the actual command line or lines that launched 
the daemon?  I did not see a ntpq command that sounded plausible, 
although ntpq would be an obvious choice.

This would be very useful for debugging, as each and every platform type 
seems to have a different approach to handling NTP.  

Joe Gwinn

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