Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a networking protocol for time and date synchronization between computers. Having an NTP server decreases the number of calls to the internet made by hosts and creates a better system time for all computers that rely on punctuality and performance. Accurate time across a network is important for many reasons, as even minute discrepancies in time can cause big problems in the long run.
Luckily, an NTP server is very simple to build. This tutorial describes how to set up your machine as a local NTP server on Ubuntu 16.04 and how to use the NTP daemon to regularly maintain an accurate system time.
Install NTP daemon
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ntpd
Note: ntpd can act both as a client and as a server.
Remove the old-time synchronization program.
sudo apt-get remove ntpdate
Configure the daemon properly
The configuration file for ntpd is located at /etc/ntp.conf
STEP 1: Add the NTP servers to the list. You can change them depending on your location and add iburst after the most promising one. Here’s our example:
# You do need to talk to an NTP server or two (or three).
server 0.ca.pool.ntp.org iburst
STEP 2: Add a few extra lines to the bottom of your servers list to provide your current local time as a default, should you temporarily lose internet connectivity:
127.127.1.0 stratum 10
STEP 3: Save your list and restart the daemon.
sudo systemctl daemon-reload ntp
STEP 4: Next, monitor your system log to see if you synchronize with a time server:
tail -f /var/log/syslog
STEP 5: In about 10-15 seconds (or up to 15-20 minutes if you forgot to put ‘iburst’ after your favourite server), you should see something like the following in your system log:
Jul 17 16:50:22 hostname ntpd: synchronized to 220.127.116.11, stratum 2
If this message does not appear, you have not yet properly synchronized with the NTP server network. Check the list of NTP peers you are communicating with using the following:
ntpq -c lpeer
If the ‘delay’, ‘offset’, and ‘jitter’ fields are non-zero and you haven’t synchronized, it probably means that you need to wait a bit. Check again that you’ve inserted the ‘iburst’ argument to your servers list! Peer example:
remote refid st t when poll reach delay offset jitter==============================================================================*milo.mcs.anl.go 18.104.22.168 2 u 4 64 77 46.213 67.753 2.207
-europium.canoni 22.214.171.124 2 u 63 64 37 97.375 71.020 1.875
-dtype.org 126.96.36.199 2 u 2 64 77 86.956 69.178 1.804
+smtp130.junkema 188.8.131.52 2 u 2 64 77 87.266 67.677 0.916
+kechara.flame.o 184.108.40.206 2 u- 64 77 89.183 68.717 1.713
-host2.kingrst.c 220.127.116.11 2 u – 64 77 24.306 62.121 2.608
LOCAL(0) .LOCL. 10 l 59 64 37 0.000 0.000 0.002
STEP 6: Once ntpd is running and synchronized with the time servers you have selected, you may set it up in order to act as a time server for other machines. To do so, add a section like the following to /etc/ntp.conf
# Allow LAN machines to synchronize with this ntp server
restrict 192.168.1.0 mask 255.255.255.0 nomodify notrap
restrict 192.168.2.0 mask 255.255.255.0 nomodify notrap
STEP 7: You may add as many (or few) CIDR address blocks to allow to synchronize with your machine as you’d like, you might have noticed restrict 192.168.3.1 by itself, a default mask of 255.255.255.255 is applied if none are specified.
STEP 8: Restart your NTP daemon.
sudo systemctl daemon-reload ntp
That’s it! Your NTP server is now set up. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.