Placing ntpdate into cron seems to be no longer a good idea.

What is an

  • easy
  • state-of-the-art
  • automatic
  • environmental friendly ;-)
  • sleek

way of keeping a (debian) server's time clock up to date?

  • What version (of debian)? Feb 14, 2012 at 20:32
  • 6
    The very article you linked to answers your question. What else do you need to know? Feb 14, 2012 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


apt-get install ntp. If you've never had it installed before, you should be good to go. If you have, and therefore, might have stale config files, you could apt-get remove --purge ntp and apt-get install ntp again to get new config files. Or if you want to keep your config files, I recommend checking that /etc/default/ntp has NTPD_OPTS='-g'. This says to ntpd "try to correct the time, even if it is way off", and make sure at least one good server in /etc/ntp.conf has the iburst option, like:

server 0.debian.pool.ntp.org iburst

This allows a burst of packets to be sent which will get your time synced quicker.

If you ever need to have something wait for time sync before proceeding, run ntp-wait. If, for example, you have a service which shouldn't start until you are sure you have your time corrected. (which you previously might have used ntpdate for)

  • Installing ntp is enough? No further configuration work required? That's it? No ntpdate?
    – powtac
    Feb 14, 2012 at 21:57
  • 2
    that's it. then you can run ntpq -p at any time to see how well it thinks it is doing.
    – stew
    Feb 14, 2012 at 22:00
  • What I did now: apt-get remove --purge ntpdate apt-get remove --purge ntp apt-get install ntp.
    – powtac
    Feb 15, 2012 at 0:23

Couldn't you just set ntpd to start at boot as suggested on the mailing list? That's what I've been doing for as long as I can remember.

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