Sunday, September 9, 2007

Time Synchronization...

Geek Post Alert!

If you are not a geek interested in synchronizing the clock on a Linux or Windows host, then you should avert your eyes from this post, as it may cause damage to your brain.

If you've ever implemented NTP peering (the NTP daemon, in other words) on a Linux system, then you know it's quite easy to keep the Linux host's very accurately synchronized to atomic clocks. Really the only challenge is to locate some good NTP servers – and now a project has come along to solve that problem by creating known good NTP server pools. The member NTP servers in these pools are continuously checked, so you've got much better assurance that you're synchronizing to good NTP servesr than was previously possible. See the NTP Pool project's home page for more details, and this Wikipedia article for some background.

Using the NTP pool is almost ludicrously simple. In your ntp.conf file, today you might have several entries like this: “server a.b.c.d” (with real IP addresses, of course). To use the pool, you simply replace those entries with
“server”, “server”, etc. That's all there is to it – after restarting your ntp daemon, you're using the NTP pool!

While reading through the information on the NTP Pool's home page, I came across something else that looks very useful: a full-on port of the ntp daemon to Windows (where it becomes a Windows service). So I tried it, starting from the port's download page. At this point I've only tried it on two Windows hosts (both running Windows XP Pro), so I certainly can't claim to have exhaustively tested it. But…unlike an earlier port I tried, this one worked first time after a flawless installation with a very professional looking installer. Better yet, an accompanying utility gives you a nice GUI-based monitoring tool. And even better, the whole thing is open source and free! Beats the heck out of the standard (but perverted) Windows Time Service…

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