Before Ubuntu 16.04, most network time sync was handled with the Network Time Protocol (NTP) and its daemon (
ntpd). Using NTP, the local machine connects to a pool of NTP servers that provide it with constant and accurate time updates. However, since Ubuntu 16.04 the default time synchronization deamon being used is
timesyncd, and ships enabled by default on all new Ubuntu installations.
You can easily check it by running the
$ timedatectl Local time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:17:21 UTC Universal time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:17:21 UTC RTC time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:17:22 Time zone: Etc/UTC (UTC, +0000) System clock synchronized: yes systemd-timesyncd.service active: yes RTC in local TZ: no
Take a note at the line
systemd-timesyncd.service active: yes, which means that the time synchronization deamon being used is
timesyncd, which is the default on Ubuntu installations ship with since 16.04:
Since Ubuntu 16.04
timesyncd(which are part of systemd) replace most of
timesyncdis available by default and replaces not only
ntpdate, but also the client portion of
ntpd). So on top of the one-shot action that
ntpdateprovided on boot and network activation, now
timesyncdby default regularly checks and keeps your local time in sync. It also stores time updates locally, so that after reboots monotonically advances if applicable.
timesyncd should be fine for most purposes, but for some high-precision applications
NTP is still the way to go.
Before installing and enabling
ntpd (the client or deamon process), we have to disable the default
$ sudo timedatectl set-ntp no $ timedatectl Local time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:35:21 UTC Universal time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:35:21 UTC RTC time: Mon 2018-11-19 17:35:22 Time zone: Etc/UTC (UTC, +0000) System clock synchronized: yes systemd-timesyncd.service active: no RTC in local TZ: no
We check that the
systemd-timesyncd-service is disabled, and then we proceed to install
$ sudo apt-get install -y ntp
The NTP daemon should have been started by default after the restart. To verify that it was correctly installed and working we can use the query tool for NTP
ntpq, using the
-p flag to print information about it's peers (NTP servers).
$ sudo ntpq -p remote refid st t when poll reach delay offset jitter ============================================================================== 0.ubuntu.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 1.ubuntu.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 2.ubuntu.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 3.ubuntu.pool.n .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 ntp.ubuntu.com .POOL. 16 p - 64 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 -ntp6.flashdance 220.127.116.11 2 u 38 64 1 159.692 10.730 2.336 +ntp7.flashdance 18.104.22.168 2 u 39 64 1 164.543 9.626 2.791 *time100.stupi.s .PPS. 1 u 39 64 1 155.059 6.076 2.629 +ntp8.flashdance 22.214.171.124 2 u 41 64 1 164.777 6.715 1.999 -ntp2.flashdance 126.96.36.199 2 u 38 64 1 153.563 5.630 3.300 -ntp5.flashdance 188.8.131.52 2 u 41 64 1 149.059 6.564 2.724 chilipepper.can 184.108.40.206 2 u 48 64 1 131.168 0.113 0.000 golem.canonical 220.127.116.11 2 u 51 64 1 129.830 0.024 0.000 pugot.canonical 18.104.22.168 2 u 51 64 1 129.574 0.071 0.000 alphyn.canonica 22.214.171.124 2 u 50 64 1 67.961 -0.367 0.000
timedatectl one last time to check that the clock is synced.
$ timedatectl Local time: Mon 2018-11-19 18:13:22 UTC Universal time: Mon 2018-11-19 18:13:22 UTC RTC time: Mon 2018-11-19 18:13:22 Time zone: Etc/UTC (UTC, +0000) System clock synchronized: yes systemd-timesyncd.service active: no RTC in local TZ: no
Even though the
timesyncd service is off, the
System clock synchronized flag should be
yes because we are using
ntpd on the background.
Manually Forcing a Sync
If the system's clock is desynchronized by more than ~3 seconds, then
ntpd might not be able to automatically sync the clock. In this case, we have to manually force the first sync. To do this, we have to stop the
ntp service to release the UDP port 123, then we run the forced sync, and after that's done we turn the
ntp back on.
$ sudo service ntp stop $ sudo ntpd -gq $ sudo service ntp start
We run the command
ntpd -gq, the
-gq flags tell the NTP daemon to adjust the time irrespective of the skew (g) and exit (q) immediately.
- Brian Boucheron (DigitalOcean): "How To Set Up Time Synchronization on Ubuntu 16.04"
- Jamie Arthur (LinOxide): "How to Synchronize Time using NTP Server in Ubuntu"
- Lubos Rendek (LinuxConfig.org): "NTP Server configuration on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver Linux"