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Chapter 27. Using the Chrony suite to configure NTP

Accurate timekeeping is important for a number of reasons in IT. In networking for example, accurate time stamps in packets and logs are required. In Linux systems, the NTP protocol is implemented by a daemon running in user space.

The user space daemon updates the system clock running in the kernel. The system clock can keep time by using various clock sources. Usually, the Time Stamp Counter (TSC) is used. The TSC is a CPU register which counts the number of cycles since it was last reset. It is very fast, has a high resolution, and there are no interruptions.

Starting with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, the NTP protocol is implemented by the chronyd daemon, available from the repositories in the chrony package.

The following sections describe how to use the chrony suite to configure NTP.

27.1. Introduction to chrony suite

chrony is an implementation of the Network Time Protocol (NTP). You can use chrony:

  • To synchronize the system clock with NTP servers
  • To synchronize the system clock with a reference clock, for example a GPS receiver
  • To synchronize the system clock with a manual time input
  • As an NTPv4(RFC 5905) server or peer to provide a time service to other computers in the network

chrony performs well in a wide range of conditions, including intermittent network connections, heavily congested networks, changing temperatures (ordinary computer clocks are sensitive to temperature), and systems that do not run continuously, or run on a virtual machine.

Typical accuracy between two machines synchronized over the Internet is within a few milliseconds, and for machines on a LAN within tens of microseconds. Hardware timestamping or a hardware reference clock may improve accuracy between two machines synchronized to a sub-microsecond level.

chrony consists of chronyd, a daemon that runs in user space, and chronyc, a command line program which can be used to monitor the performance of chronyd and to change various operating parameters when it is running.

The chrony daemon, chronyd, can be monitored and controlled by the command line utility chronyc. This utility provides a command prompt which allows entering a number of commands to query the current state of chronyd and make changes to its configuration. By default, chronyd accepts only commands from a local instance of chronyc, but it can be configured to accept monitoring commands also from remote hosts. The remote access should be restricted.

27.2. Using chronyc to control chronyd

This section describes how to control chronyd using the chronyc command line utility.

Procedure

  1. To make changes to the local instance of chronyd using the command line utility chronyc in interactive mode, enter the following command as root:

    # chronyc

    chronyc must run as root if some of the restricted commands are to be used.

    The chronyc command prompt will be displayed as follows:

    chronyc>
  2. To list all of the commands, type help.
  3. Alternatively, the utility can also be invoked in non-interactive command mode if called together with a command as follows:

    chronyc command
Note

Changes made using chronyc are not permanent, they will be lost after a chronyd restart. For permanent changes, modify /etc/chrony.conf.