[ntp:questions] ntpd questions - FreeBSD 5.5

Danny Mayer mayer at ntp.org
Mon Jul 13 12:12:13 UTC 2009

David Shoulders wrote:
> I have a little file server running in my basement, and since it's the 
> only machine running all the time, I set it up to run ntpd and provide 
> clock settings to my other machines.
> The machine is running FreeBSD 5.5.  I installed it some years ago, and 
> have had no reason to upgrade it.
> Initially, I ran ntpd for a day or two to establish a drift value, then 
> killed it and set up a crontab entry to run "ntpd -q" every 6 hours.  
> This worked perfectly for 2 or 3 years.  Corrections were always small 
> numbers of msec.

If you are going to use ntpd -q you should use ntpd -qg to allow it a
large step if that is necessary. There is in any case no need to stop
ntpd. It will keep going correcting your clock as long as it's running
and adjusting the drift file as necessary.

> Then, a few days ago, a disk failed.  I replaced the disk and restored, 
> and everything was fine -- except that I had lost the drift file.  So, I 
> started ntpd, let it run overnight, and looked at the drift file.  It 
> had an obviously bogus number.  The clock corrections were very large 
> and not getting smaller.  So I put a reasonable number in ntp.drift 
> (based on my vague memory of the old good value -- about 100), restarted 
> ntpd and let it run a few hours.  It seemed to be converging, so I 
> stopped it and reinstated the crontab/ntpd -q routine -- this time every 
> 3 hours.
> 12 out of 19 corrections were around 20-30 msec, but the others were 
> off-the-wall -- hundreds of msec.  So I did some arithmetic (on the 
> reasonable corrections only) and adjusted the drift value.  Since then, 
> most of the corrections have been less than 10 msec, but I'm still 
> getting some crazy ones -- like 1.7 seconds!
> The wild corrections are all in the same direction (-), so I don't think 
> the time derived from the servers is wrong.  It seems as if the clock in 
> the PC must be taking off on wild excursions occasionally.  Is this 
> possible?  How could replacing a disk have brought this on?  What am I 
> missing?

There is no reason to run ntpd -q in a crontab. You can just keep it
running and it will maintain synchronization. Do you have a particular
reason not to keep it running? Are you on a dialup line to the outside?
If so ntpd can keep account of that.

Just use ntpd -gN and let it run. (The N is for nice).


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