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

Joseph Gwinn joegwinn at comcast.net
Sat Sep 13 13:57:48 UTC 2008

In article <2r-dnRjb_rSr9VbVnZ2dnUVZ_orinZ2d at megapath.net>,
 hal-usenet at ip-64-139-1-69.sjc.megapath.net (Hal Murray) wrote:

> >I did get a look at the ntpd script today.  Turns out the answer on 
> >where it gets the ntp.conf file is right there, near the top, in the 
> >line "ntpconf=/etc/ntp.conf", even though the ntp man page points us 
> >deeper in the /etc hierarchy.  
> >The sysadmin I was working with was real annoyed, as the misinformation 
> >in the man page had sent him into circles.  We will add pointer comments 
> >to all placebo ntp.conf files, to save future generations of sysadmins 
> >from this fate.
> I still don't know which ntp.conf you are really using.
> I'm looking at a Fedora 6 box.
> If you look in /etc/init.d/ntpd, you will see that it mucks about
> with ntpconf (the one above) to find the servers.  Those servers
> get passed to ntpdate.  Mumble.  That's old crap.  There is now
> a command line switch that does the right thing.  I don't see
> where ntpconf gets passed to ntpd as a command line argument.

Next time I have a hands-on session, I'll put something in the purported 
correct ntp.conf file to tell if this file is in fact the Chosen One.

> If the man page says ntpd uses some other config file, it
> is probably right, or at it seems to me that it would be
> more likely that the guy who changed the code also changed
> the man page but didn't fixup the init script.

RHEL via IBM and Fedora may or may not be identical, even though both 
ultimately came from Red Hat.  As discussed in another posting, a full 
NTP man page comes with RHEL via IBM, unlike Fedora.

The details of how NTP is managed and run may also have been "improved".  
The intent of the service utility is to simplify the day-today 
activities of the sysadmins, and it probably succeeds.  The root problem 
is turning out to be with the documentation of service and ntp, not with 
service and ntp themselves.

It is pretty clear that the RHEL via IBM man page for NTP is incorrect.  
This would not be the first time in history that documentation got out 
of step with code.  

I'll smoke this out by filing a formal bug report with IBM against the 
ntp man page.  This cost us some real money, not just annoyance, and we 
cannot be alone.

Joe Gwinn

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