Frequently Asked Questions
1. Chrony compared to other programs
1.1. How does
chrony compare to
chrony can usually synchronise the system clock faster and with better time
accuracy, but it doesn’t implement all NTP features, e.g. broadcast/multicast
mode, or authentication based on public-key cryptography. For a more detailed
comparison, see the comparison page and section
Comparison with ntpd in the manual.
If your computer connects to the 'net only for few minutes at a time, you turn
your Linux computer off or suspend it frequently, the clock is not very stable
(e.g. it is a virtual machine), or you want to use NTP on an isolated network
with no hardware clocks in sight,
chrony will probably work much better for
The original reason
chrony was written was that ntpd (called xntpd at the
time) could not to do anything sensible on a PC which was connected to the 'net
only for about 5 minutes once or twice a day, mainly to upload/download email
and news. The requirements were
slew the time to correct it when going online and NTP servers become visible
determine the rate at which the computer gains or loses time and use this information to keep it reasonably correct between connects to the 'net. This has to be done using a method that does not care about the intermittent availability of the references or the fact the computer is turned off between groups of measurements.
maintain the time across reboots, by working out the error and drift rate of the computer’s real-time clock and using this information to set the system clock correctly at boot up.
Also, when working with isolated networks with no true time references at all
ntpd was found to give no help with managing the local clock’s gain/loss rate
on the NTP master node (which was set from watch). Some automated support was
chrony to deal with this.
2. Configuration issues
2.1. I have several computers on a LAN. Should be all clients of an external server?
The best configuration is usually to make one computer the master, with
the others as clients of it. Add a
local directive to the master’s
chrony.conf file. This configuration will be better because
the load on the external connection is less
the load on the external NTP server(s) is less
if your external connection goes down, the computers on the LAN will maintain a common time with each other.
2.2. Must I specify servers by IP address if DNS is not available on chronyd start?
No. Starting from version 1.25,
chronyd will keep trying to resolve
the hostnames specified in the
peer directives in
increasing intervals until it succeeds. The
online command can be
chronyc to try to resolve them immediately.
2.3. How can I make chronyd more secure?
If you don’t need to serve time to NTP clients or peers, you can add
to the chrony.conf file to completely disable the NTP server functionality
and prevent NTP requests from reaching
chronyd. Starting from version 2.0,
the NTP server port is open only when client access is allowed by the
directive or command, an NTP peer is configured, or the
If you don’t need to use
chronyc remotely, you can add the following
directives to the configuration file to bind the command sockets to the
loopback interface. This is done by default since version 2.0.
bindcmdaddress 127.0.0.1 bindcmdaddress ::1
If you don’t need to use
chronyc at all, you can disable the command sockets
cmdport 0 to the configuration file.
On Linux, if
chronyd is compiled with support for Linux capabilities
(available in the libcap library), you can specify an unprivileged user with
-u option or
user directive in the chrony.conf file to drop root
privileges after start. The configure option
--with-user can be used to drop
the privileges by default.
2.4. How can I improve the accuracy of the system clock with NTP sources?
Select NTP servers that are well synchronised, stable and close to your
network. It’s better to use more than one server, three or four is usually
recommended as the minimum, so
chronyd can detect falsetickers and combine
measurements from multiple sources.
There are also useful options which can be set in the
server directive, they
The first three options set the minimum and maximum allowed polling interval,
and how should be the actual interval adjusted in the specified range. Their
default values are 6 (64 seconds) for
minpoll, 10 (1024 seconds) for
maxpoll and 6 (samples) for
polltarget. The default values should be used
for general servers on the internet. With your own NTP servers or if have
permission to poll some servers more frequently, setting these options for
shorter polling intervals may significantly improve the accuracy of the system
The optimal polling interval depends on many factors, including the ratio between the wander of the clock and the network jitter (sometimes expressed in NTP documents as the Allan intercept), the temperature sensitivity of the crystal oscillator and the maximum rate of change of the temperature.
An example of the directive for an NTP server on the internet that you are allowed to poll frequently could be
server foo.example.net minpoll 4 maxpoll 6 polltarget 16
An example using very short polling intervals for a server located in the same LAN could be
server ntp.local minpoll 2 maxpoll 4 polltarget 30
The maxdelay options are useful to ignore measurements with larger delay (e.g.
due to congestion in the network) and improve the stability of the
maxdelaydevratio option could be added to the example
with local NTP server
server ntp.local minpoll 2 maxpoll 4 polltarget 30 maxdelaydevratio 2
3. Computer is not synchronising
This is the most common problem. There are a number of reasons, see the following questions.
3.1. Behind a firewall?
If there is a firewall between you and the NTP server you’re trying to use, the
packets may be blocked. Try using a tool like wireshark or tcpdump to see if
you’re getting responses from the server. If you have an external modem, see
if the receive light blinks straight after the transmit light (when the link is
quiet apart from the NTP traffic.) Try adding
log measurements to the
chrony.conf file and look in the measurements.log file after
been running for a short period. See if any measurements appear.
3.2. Are NTP servers specified with the
Check that you’re using
appropriately. Again, check in measurements.log to see if you’re getting any
data back from the server.
4. Issues with
4.1. I keep getting the error
506 Cannot talk to daemon
chronyd remotely, make sure that the chrony.conf file (on
the computer where
chronyd is running) has a cmdallow entry for the
computer you are running
chronyc on and an appropriate bindcmdaddress
directive. This isn’t necessary for localhost.
chronyd is not running. Try using the
ps command (e.g. on Linux,
ps -auxw) to see if it’s running. Or try
netstat -a and see if the ports
123/udp and 323/udp are listening. If
chronyd is not running, you may have a
problem with the way you are trying to start it (e.g. at boot time).
Perhaps you have a firewall set up in a way that blocks packets on port 323/udp. You need to amend the firewall configuration in this case.
4.2. Is the
chronyd protocol documented anywhere?
Only by the source code :-) See cmdmon.c (
chronyd side) and client.c
5. Real-time clock issues
5.1. What is the real-time clock (RTC)?
This is the clock which keeps the time even when your computer is turned off.
It works with 1 second resolution.
chronyd can monitor the rate at which the
real-time clock gains or loses time, and compensate for it when you set the
system time from it at the next reboot. See the documentation for details.
5.2. I want to use
chronyd's real-time clock support. Must I disable hwclock?
The hwclock program is often set-up by default in the boot and shutdown scripts
with many Linux installations. If you want to use
chronyd's real-time clock
support, the important thing is to disable hwclock in the shutdown procedure.
If you don’t, it will over-write the RTC with a new value, unknown to
chronyd. At the next reboot,
chronyd will compensate this (wrong) time
with its estimate of how far the RTC has drifted whilst the power was off,
giving a meaningless initial system time.
There is no need to remove hwclock from the boot process, as long as
is started after it has run.
5.3. I just keep getting the
513 RTC driver not running message
For the real time clock support to work, you need the following three things
a kernel that is supported (e.g. 2.2 onwards)
enhanced RTC support compiled into the kernel
rtcfiledirective in your chrony.conf file
6. Microsoft Windows
chrony support Windows?
chronyc program (the command-line client used for configuring
chronyd while it is running) has been successfully built and run under
Cygwin in the past.
chronyd is not portable, because part of it is
very system-dependent. It needs adapting to work with Windows'
equivalent of the adjtimex() call, and it needs to be made to work as a
6.2. Are there any plans to support Windows?
We have no plans to do this. Anyone is welcome to pick this work up and contribute it back to the project.
7. NTP-specific issues
chrony be driven from broadcast NTP servers?
No, this NTP mode is not implemented yet.
7.2. Can chronyd transmit broadcast NTP packets (e.g. to synchronise other computers on a private LAN)?
Yes. Starting from version 1.17,
chrony has this capability.
chrony keep the system clock a fixed offset away from real time?
This is not possible as the program currently stands.
7.4. What happens if the network connection is dropped without using
offline command first?
chronyd will keep trying to access the server(s) that it thinks are online.
When the network is connected again, it will take some time (on average half of
the current polling interval) before new measurements are made and the clock is
corrected. If the servers were set to offline and the
online command was
issued when the network was connected,
chronyd would make new measurements
auto_offline option to the
server entry in the chrony.conf file may
be useful to switch the servers to the offline state automatically.
8. Linux-specific issues
8.1. I get
Could not open /dev/rtc, Device or resource busy in my syslog file
Some other program running on the system may be using the device.
9. Solaris-specific issues
9.1. I get an error message about not being able to open kvm to change dosynctodr
(The dosynctodr variable controls whether Solaris couples the equivalent
of its BIOS clock into its system clock at regular intervals). The
Solaris port of
chrony was developed in the Solaris 2.5 era. Some
aspect of the Solaris kernel has changed which prevents the same
technique working. We no longer have root access to any Solaris
machines to work on this, and we are reliant on somebody developing the
patch and testing it.