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NTP (Network Time Protocol) is used to synchronize the system time with other devices over the network, this usually happens in a client-server model.


Install net-misc/ntp:

→ Information about USE flags
USE flag Default Recommended Description
caps No Use Linux capabilities library to control privilege
debug No No Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see
ipv6 Yes Adds support for IP version 6
openntpd No Allow ntp to be installed alongside openntpd
parse-clocks No Add support for PARSE clocks
samba No Provide support for Samba's signing daemon (needed for Active Directory domain controllers)
selinux No  !!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur
snmp No Adds support for the Simple Network Management Protocol if available
ssl Yes Adds support for Secure Socket Layer connections
vim-syntax No Pulls in related vim syntax scripts
zeroconf No Support for DNS Service Discovery (DNS-SD)
root # emerge --ask ntp

Or alternatively, you can use net-misc/openntpd instead.


The only configuration file is /etc/ntp.conf which is well explained with comments. Here are some of the more important settings.


Here you can specify with which servers you want to synchronize your local time.


Time zones and location of the server do not matter, it synchronizes the UTC time.

Per default the gentoo servers are listed and enabled. A list of available servers can be found here: You can also define a home or company server here, given that ntpd is running and the machine is allowed to.


To control who is allowed to synchronize with this machine and change the configuration, you can change these options.

Running ntpd without any options, allows all systems from all networks to synchronize to your NTP server.
  • access to NTP service allowed only from localhost.

# To deny other machines from changing the
# configuration but allow localhost:
restrict default nomodify nopeer
  • access to NTP service allowed only from the network.

# To allow machines within your network to synchronize
# their clocks with your server, but ensure they are
# not allowed to configure the server or used as peers
# to synchronize against, uncomment this line.
restrict mask nomodify nopeer notrap


Basic tools and common usage

ntpd service

Add ntpd to the default runlevel to have the time synchronized automatically

root # rc-update add ntpd default
root #
/etc/init.d/ntp-client start

If ntpd is run as a service, the time will automatically synchronize as long as the difference between the local time and the time on the server is less than 1000s (~17min). So it is pretty common to adjust the time initially to whatever the server time is as a trusted source:

root # ntpd -g -c /etc/ntp.conf
If ntpd is already running, it won't start a second time.


This used to be the client, but its functionality is now moved into ntpd itself. It is purely to set the local time when started and then exits (not a service):

root # ntpdate

See also

External resources