Archive for the 'NTP Config' Category

Useful NTP server related resources

NTP.org – The home for the NTP Project who provides support and additional development resources for the Official Reference Implementation of NTP.

NTP Project support pages

THE NTP pool – list of public servers

NPL – The National Physical Laboratory in the UK who control the MSF radio signal.

The University of Delaware and David Mills’ information page, Professor Mills is the original inventor and developer of NTP

David Mills’ list of Public NTP Time Servers a list of public NTP servers

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who operate the USA’s WWVB radio signal

Europe’s largest supplier of NTP server related products.

Galleon UK – NTP server products for the UK

ntp-time-server.com – one of the largest time and frequency suppliers in the United States

NTP – Wikipedia article on NTP

NTP server checker – free tool to ensure time server accuracy

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Free NTP server checker – available for download

Galleon’s free NTP Server Checker allows you to check the following items
* IP address – the time server you are checking.
* NTP Version
* Reference timestamp (the prime epoch ) used by NTP to work out the time from this set point
* Round trip delay (the time it takes request to arrive and come back in milliseconds)
* Local clock offset – time difference between host and client
* Leap indicator (if there is to be a leap second that day – normally only on 31 December)
* Mode 3 – indicates a client request
* Stratum level – which stratum level the NTP server is (a stratum 1 server receives the time from an atomic clock source a stratum 2 server receives the time from a stratum 1 server)
* Poll Interval (Will be 1 as only 1 requests is made by the SNTP client)
* Precision – how accurate in milliseconds
* Root Delay – This is a signed fixed-point number indicating the total roundtrip delay to the primary reference source at the root
* Root dispersion (in milliseconds)- The root dispersion is the maximum (worst case) difference between the local system clock and the root of the NTP tree (stratum 1 clock)
* Ref ID – the host name
* Originate time stamp (time before synchronisation request)
* Receive timestamp – the time the host got request
* Transmit timestamp – the time the host sends back to us
* Is response valid – synchronised or not

Please download from Galleon Systems

NTP Server – common acronyms explained:

NTP – Network Time Protocol

SNTP – Simple Network Time Protocol

GPS – Global Positioning System

UTC – Coordinated Universal Time

MSF – Radio Time Signal for United Kingdom

WWVB – Radio Time Signal for American

DCF – Radio Time Signal for Germany

LAN – Local Area Network

UDP – User Datagram Protocol

TCP – Transmission Control Protocol

IP – Internet Protocol

TDF – Radio Time Signal for France

CHU – Radio Time Signal for Canada

JJY – Radio Time Signal for Japan

HBG – Radio Time Signal for Switzerland

USB – Universal Serial Bus

RTC – Real Time Clock

AM – Amplitude Modulation

APM – Automatic Power Management

DES – Data Encryption Standard

ESD – Electrostatic Discharge

FM – Frequency Modulation

IETF – Internet Engineering Task Force

IRIG – Inter-Range Instrumentation Group

MD5 – Message Digest

PPM – Part Per Million

PPS – Pulse Per Second

RFC – Request For Comments

SA – Selective Availability

TAI – International Atomic Time

SI – International System of Units

NTP server – GPS or radio?

The NTP server is an essential network tool. Whilst other protocols do exist, NTP is by far the standard time synchronisation protocol and is utilised in the majority of time servers.

A NTP server is reliant on a single time source it is this time reference that it uses to distribute amongst the network and synchronise to. This timing reference tends to be a UTC time source (coordinated universal time) which is a global time source based on the time told by atomic clocks.

There are only two viable options for receiving a UTC timing source. Although the Internet can be used, the signal can’t be authenticated this is a security measure used by NTP to ensure the reference is what it says it is. Also by using an Internet time source a hole must be left open in the network firewall to allow for communication to the server, this has its own security risks.

The only two secure methods for receiving a UTC time signal is to either use the GPS network or national time and frequency transmissions that are broadcast by several countries’ national physics laboratories.

In selecting a timing source for a NTP server, location is the key consideration. The national time and frequency transmissions are not available in every country. Whilst the USA, UK, Germany, France, Japan and Finland have a signal there are many countries that do not. Furthermore being a long wave radio transmission it can easily be blocked by local topography, although the radio aerial can pick op a signal indoors which is something a GPS NTP server can’t do.

GPS antennas have to be situated on a roof. This can have logistical problems if the server room is in the basement of a high storey building but on the plus inside the GPS signal can be received literally anywhere in the world.

NTP server – Introduction to Network Time Protocol.

Network Time Protocol (NTP) is one of the Internet’s oldest protocols still in use. Developed by Dr David Mills from the University of Delaware, it has been in constant use and continually updated since 1985. NTP is a protocol designed to synchronize the clocks on computers and networks across the Internet or Local or Wider Area Networks (LANs/WANS).

In a modern global economy time synchronisation is essential for carrying out time sensitive transactions such as booking an airline ticket to bidding on an Internet auction site. If clocks were not synchronised to the same time you may find your airline seat sold after you had bought it and Ebay’s administrators would not be able to discover whose bid was the latest.

NTP is a multi-tiered system, each tier being called a stratum. Servers at each tier communicate with each other (peer) and provide time to lower strata. Servers at the top stratum, stratum 1 connect to an atomic clock either over the Internet or by a radio or GPS receiver while a stratum 2 server will connect to a stratum 1.

NTP uses an algorithm (Marzullo’s algorithm) to synchronise time on a network using time scales like UTC (Coordinated Universal Time or Temps Universel Coordonné) and can support such features as leap seconds – added to compensate for the slowing of the Earth’s rotation.

NTP (version 4 being the latest) can maintain time over the public Internet to within 10 milliseconds (1/100th of a second) and can perform even better over LANs with accuracies of 200 microseconds (1/5000th of a second) under ideal conditions.

NTP time servers work within the TCP/IP suite and rely on UDP (User Datagram Protocol). A less complex form of NTP called Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) that does not require the storing of information about previous communications, needed by NTP, is used in some devices and applications where high accuracy timing is not as important and is also included as standard in Windows software (although more recent versions of Microsoft Windows have the full NTP installed and the source code is free and readily available on the Internet).

The NTP program (known as a daemon on UNIX and a service on Windows) runs in the background and refuses to believe the time it is told until several exchanges have taken place, each passing a set of tests. If the replies from a server satisfy these ‘protocol specifications’, the server is accepted. It usually takes about five good samples (five minutes) until a NTP server is accepted as a source for synchronisation.

Synchronisation with NTP is relatively simple, it synchronises time with reference to a reliable clock source such as an atomic clock, although these are extremely expensive and are generally only to be found in large-scale physics laboratories, however NTP can use either the Global Positioning system (GPS) network or specialist radio transmission to receive UTC time from these clocks.

A simplified version of NTP called Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) exists that does not require the storing of information about previous communications as required by NTP. It is used in some devices and applications where high accuracy timing is not as important and is installed on older versions of Microsoft Windows. Windows since 2000 has included the Windows Time Service (w32time.exe) which uses SNTP to synchronise the computer clock. NTP is also available on UNIX and LINUX (download via NTP.org).

The NTP Server – a Beginners Guide

Computer networking is one of the most difficult aspects of information and communications technology (ICT). The logistics of connecting terminals, routers, printers and all the other devices can leave many administrators with a constant headache.
One of the most important aspects that often gets overlooked and can have disastrous consequences is that of time synchronization.

It is imperative that all devices on a network are telling the same time as timestamps, the format a computer relays time to each other, are the only form of reference a computer can use to establish a sequence of events. If different machines on a network are telling different times then unforeseen consequences such as emails arriving before they have technically been sent and other anomalies will make the administrator’s headache even worse.

What’s more a computer network that is not synchronized is open to security threats and even fraud. Fortunately the NTP time server has been around for many years and can ease the headache of time synchronization .

NTP (Network Time Protocol) is one of the oldest protocols used by computer networks. Developed nearly three decades ago NTP is a protocol that checks the time on all devices on network and adds or subtracts enough time to ensure they are all synchronized.

NTP requires a time reference to synchronise the network’s clocks to. Whilst NTP can synchronize a network to any time an authoritative time source is obviously the best solution. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) is a globally used timescale based on the time told by atomic clocks. As atomic clocks lose less than a second of time in over a thousand years, UTC is by far the best timing source to synchronize a network to. Not only will your network be perfectly synchronized together but also your network will be synchronized to the same time as millions of computer networks all from around the world.

A NTP server can receive a UTC time reference from several sources. The Internet is the most obvious source, however Internet timing sources are notoriously inaccurate and those that are not can be relatively useless if the distance is too far away. Also having placed your NTP server securely behind your firewall it does seem pointless to have to keep a hole open in it to allow the NTP server to poll the timing reference from across the web and leave the entire network vulnerable, particularly as NTP authentication (NTP’s own security measure) is not possible over the Internet.

There are two far more secure and accurate methods of receiving a UTC timing reference. The first is to utilise the national time and frequency transmissions that several countries broadcast from their national physics laboratories. These are usually broadcast via long wave which has an advantage of being able to be picked up inside a server room although many countries do not have such a signal.

However, many NTP servers can utilize the timing signal broadcast by the onboard atomic clocks of the GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites.  This signal is available everywhere but a GPS antenna is required that can get a clear view of the sky.

By utilizing a UTC timing source either through the GPS network of radio transmission a computer network can be synchronized to within a few milliseconds of UTC time.