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Computer Time Synchronization
A Beginner's Guide to Network Time Protocol (NTP)

Warning! This page may contain obsolete information.

NTP Is a Complete Solution

I can't recall what led me to what was then the University of Delaware's Time Server page and is now an independent Network Time Protocol page. This included a "Time Synchronization Software" page with headings for nearly every OS available today. It was clear that I'd finally found open source software for both my Windows and Unix computers that would solve all parts of the time synchronization problem including accuracy. This is the NTP (Network Time Protocol) server developed by David Mills and others at the University of Delaware.

It also became clear very quickly that NTP is a rather complex protocol. In fact there is SNTP or Simple Network Time Protocol for sites that don't need the accuracy (and complexity) of NTP. I was not sure if SNTP would solve my combined Windows and Unix needs but it was clear that NTP would. Since I'm already running three web servers, on Linux, OpenBSD and NT, that are supposed to be up 24 x 7, plus several other computers that I want synchronized, it looked like NTP would be worth the effort.

In retrospect, now that I've set up NTP servers on OpenBSD 2.6 - 3.0, Red Hat Linux 6.2 and 7.1 and NT 4 Server and Workstation, the mechanics really are not complicated. Actually each install only takes about 10 or so minutes though the preparation and subsequent work take much longer. All installs worked the first time.

Many products don't have enough documentation. Part of NTP's complexity is that the University of Delaware site has so much information that it sometimes makes the core essentials difficult to find. They provide probably everything you need to know to not only set up NTP properly but also securely and efficiently and to be sure that you take full advantage of the capabilities of NTP. They don't have simple step by step instructions to set up a basic install which is why I wrote these pages.

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