ntpd listens on numerous interfaces by default, I only want it to listen on since I only want the localhost to sync the time.

How to do that, I tried by editing /etc/default/ntp on Debian Wheezy:


But it still listens globally on

Any ideas?

  • I'm curious what your ultimate goal is here. Syncing with localhost doesn't make a lot of sense and won't work at all by default without a fudge statement. What are you trying to achieve?
    – Ladadadada
    Feb 5, 2013 at 15:28
  • @Ladadadada We have a ntp server here within the LAN. Our linux clients should have the correct time, but instead of running an hourly cronjob ntpdate -B timeserver we wanted to run a ntpd on every client with only which asks the timeserver in the LAN. Is there something wrong with it? Feb 5, 2013 at 15:39
  • 4
    On a client, the listening port is only used for querying the current state of the daemon. The server lines in your ntpd client configs define who you sync with. If your server line(s) say, you have a problem. If they point to your central timeserver, it should all be fine.
    – Ladadadada
    Feb 5, 2013 at 15:47

4 Answers 4


Remove all -I or --interface options from /etc/default/ntp and insert the following into your /etc/ntp.conf:

interface ignore wildcard
interface listen
interface listen ::1
# NOTE: if you want to update your time using remote machines,
# add at least one remote interface address:
#interface listen 2001:db8::1
#interface listen

An excerpt from the ntpd(1) manual page about the -i option:

This option also implies not opening other addresses, except wildcard and localhost. Please consider using the configuration file interface command, which is more versatile.

See also the Debian manual page (I could not find it in Arch Linux one) of ntp.conf(5).

  • 6
    ntp needs to bind on a routable interface to be able to sync with timeservers. See meepmeep's answer below. Jul 25, 2015 at 12:28
  • Alternatively to interface ignore wildcard an interface ignore all seems to do the same. Also for debugging: Active interface addresses will be logged (to ntpd's log file) as Listen normally on ... while ignored interface addresses will be logged as Listen and drop on ....
    – U. Windl
    Dec 30, 2019 at 13:50

With ntp listening only on, it looks like it can't initiate connection to a public ntp server :

$ ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
ks370079.kimsuf **.INIT.**       16 -    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000

It must be bind to a routable ip address to work.

  • Thanks for this observation and your example showing how to verify that this is indeed the case.
    – ColinM
    Mar 23, 2015 at 20:31

Full /etc/ntp.conf that protocol neutral (IPv4 &| IPv6)

driftfile /var/lib/ntp/ntp.drift

statistics loopstats peerstats clockstats
filegen loopstats file loopstats type day enable
filegen peerstats file peerstats type day enable
filegen clockstats file clockstats type day enable

server 0.pool.ntp.org
server 1.pool.ntp.org
server 2.pool.ntp.org
server 3.pool.ntp.org

restrict -4 default kod notrap nomodify nopeer noquery
restrict -6 default kod notrap nomodify nopeer noquery

restrict lo

interface ignore wildcard
interface listen lo
  • In the 'restrict' lines, limited is required for kod to do anything. Nov 3, 2021 at 21:44

If you want to reduce the number of listening services for security reasons, openntpd might be considered, as it does not require a listen server to act as a client. It is considered slightly less accurate than ntpd; it is reliable within a few hundred ms, but this is suitable for most purposes.

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