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I was just installing ntp on an ubuntu server that had the wrong time by a minute, and I got to wondering, how did it get any time at all to begin with? Is there some other process that sets the time at boot time? Or was this initial time just seeded when the VM was instantiated?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is most likely reading it from your server's BIOS.

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+1 - The BIOS would contain this information which your OS would read :) – JamesK Aug 11 '10 at 12:53
Ah ha. Well it's a VM, so I wonder what access it has to the bare metal. – John Bachir Aug 11 '10 at 13:48
@John: The BIOS is virtualized. – Dennis Williamson Aug 11 '10 at 14:15
You just blew my mind. – John Bachir Aug 11 '10 at 14:38
The hypervisor (software the VM runs in) can also pull this information from your host (computer the hypervisor runs on) as well, or depending on the hypervisor, from the host OS system time itself. – churnd Aug 11 '10 at 16:22

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