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

Unruh unruh-spam at physics.ubc.ca
Thu Sep 4 19:10:00 UTC 2008

"Richard B. Gilbert" <rgilbert88 at comcast.net> writes:

>Joseph Gwinn wrote:
>> In article <yvudnf7rXeMsOyPVnZ2dnUVZ_gSdnZ2d at comcast.com>,
>>  "Richard B. Gilbert" <rgilbert88 at comcast.net> wrote:
>>> Joseph Gwinn wrote:
>>>> 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 
>>>> documented?)
>>>> 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
>>> I don't recall ever encountering such a facility.  Or ever needing one.
>> You are very fortunate.  I do need one.  
>> You have confirmed my suspicion that NTP has no such facility.
>> Use of strace has been suggested.  It is on some but not all platforms 
>> at present.
>>> It seems to me that this is the sort of thing that the sysadmin should 
>>> be documenting.  And if he has not documented it, perhaps you should 
>>> wonder what's going to happen when he walks in front of a truck, or is 
>>> shot by an irate husband!
>> In this case, none of the sysadmins (who are too busy) had any idea what 
>> was going on, and they didn't know enough about NTP to realize what was 
>> going on.  The sysadmin had gotten the can't-sync error message many 
>> times, but didn't quite understand what it was saying.  So even if he is 
>> hit by an irate truck, his replacement won't necessarily be better or 
>> worse.
>> The problem I'm trying to solve is different.  We put NTP on lots of 
>> different kinds of computer, mostly Unix, but some Windows, and I'm 
>> looking for diagnosis tools that will tell me what's really going on, 
>> precisely so I can debug unfamiliar setups no matter how screwed up.
>> Thanks,
>> Joe Gwinn

>My memory grows DIMM but ISTR there is a program in at least some Unix 
>or Unix-like operating systems that will tell you which program(s) have 
>which files open.

The config file is not kept open. It is read and then closed. The info does
not change. 

>Give me a few weeks or months to think about it and the answer will 
>bubble up from the sludge at the bottom of my mind!

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