A time server is a server computer that reads the actual time from a reference clock and distributes this information to its clients using a computer network. The time server may be a local network time server or an internet time server.
The most important and widely used protocol for distributing and synchronising time over the Internet is the Network Time Protocol (NTP), though other less-popular or outdated time protocols continue in use. A variety of protocols are in common use for sending time signals over radio links and serial connections.
The time reference used by a time server could be another time server on the network or the Internet, a connected radio clock or an atomic clock. The most common true time source is a GPS or GPS master clock. Time servers are sometimes multi-purpose network servers, dedicated network servers, or dedicated devices. All a dedicated time server does is provide accurate time.
An existing network server (e.g. a file server) can become a time server with additional software. The NTP homepage provides a free and widely used reference implementation of the NTP server and client for many popular operating systems. The other choice is a dedicated time server device.
The term "stratum" is used to label the closeness to a central or high quality time server. The stratum indicates the place of a particular time server in a hierarchy of servers. The scale is 1 to 15 where 1 is the most accurate and likely a highly specialized physical hardware device. Some time clients will reject a time update from a server whose stratum is too high, and most will prefer low strata time sources to higher ones. This can be a pitfall for administrators setting up an in-house time server with no true time source.
Internet Small Computer Systems Interface or iSCSI is an Internet Protocol-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. iSCSI provides block-level access to storage devices by carrying SCSI commands over a TCP/IP network. iSCSI facilitates data transfers over intranets and to manage storage over long distances. It can be used to transmit data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet and can enable location-independent data storage and retrieval.
Time and frequency transfer is a scheme where multiple sites share a precise reference time or frequency. The technique is commonly used for creating and distributing standard time scales such as International Atomic Time (TAI). Time transfer solves problems such as astronomical observatories correlating observed flashes or other phenomena with each other, as well as cell phone towers coordinating handoffs as a phone moves from one cell to another.
The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a networking protocol for clock synchronization between computer systems over packet-switched, variable-latency data networks. In operation since before 1985, NTP is one of the oldest Internet protocols in current use. NTP was designed by David L. Mills of the University of Delaware.
A radio clock or radio-controlled clock (RCC), and often (incorrectly) referred to as an atomic clock is a type of quartz clock or watch that is automatically synchronized to a time code transmitted by a radio transmitter connected to a time standard such as an atomic clock. Such a clock may be synchronized to the time sent by a single transmitter, such as many national or regional time transmitters, or may use the multiple transmitters used by satellite navigation systems such as Global Positioning System. Such systems may be used to automatically set clocks or for any purpose where accurate time is needed. RC clocks may include any feature available for a clock, such as alarm function, display of ambient temperature and humidity, broadcast radio reception, etc.
A real-time clock (RTC) is an electronic device that measures the passage of time.
Clock synchronization is a topic in computer science and engineering that aims to coordinate otherwise independent clocks. Even when initially set accurately, real clocks will differ after some amount of time due to clock drift, caused by clocks counting time at slightly different rates. There are several problems that occur as a result of clock rate differences and several solutions, some being more acceptable than others in certain contexts.
Assisted GNSS (A-GNSS) is a GNSS augmentation system that often significantly improves the startup performance—i.e., time-to-first-fix (TTFF)—of a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). A-GNSS works by providing the necessary data to the device via a radio network instead of the slow satellite link, essentially "warming up" the receiver for a fix. When applied to GPS, it is known as assisted GPS or augmented GPS. Other local names include A-GANSS for Galileo and A-Beidou for BeiDou.
A clock network or clock system is a set of synchronized clocks designed to always show exactly the same time by communicating with each other. Clock networks usually consist of a central master clock kept in sync with an official time source, and one or more slave clocks which receive and display the time from the master.
OpenNTPD is a Unix daemon implementing the Network Time Protocol to synchronize the local clock of a computer system with remote NTP servers. It is also able to act as an NTP server to NTP-compatible clients.
The Precision Time Protocol (PTP) is a protocol used to synchronize clocks throughout a computer network. On a local area network, it achieves clock accuracy in the sub-microsecond range, making it suitable for measurement and control systems. PTP is employed to synchronize financial transactions, mobile phone tower transmissions, sub-sea acoustic arrays, and networks that require precise timing but lack access to satellite navigation signals.
The Network Time Protocol daemon (ntpd) is an operating system program that maintains the system time in synchronization with time servers using the Network Time Protocol (NTP).
A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by network nodes. Computers use common communication protocols over digital interconnections to communicate with each other. These interconnections are made up of telecommunication network technologies based on physically wired, optical, and wireless radio-frequency methods that may be arranged in a variety of network topologies.
NTP server misuse and abuse covers a number of practices which cause damage or degradation to a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server, ranging from flooding it with traffic or violating the server's access policy or the NTP rules of engagement. One incident was branded NTP vandalism in an open letter from Poul-Henning Kamp to the router manufacturer D-Link in 2006. This term has later been extended by others to retroactively include other incidents. There is, however, no evidence that any of these problems are deliberate vandalism. They are more usually caused by shortsighted or poorly chosen default configurations.
A pulse per second is an electrical signal that has a width of less than one second and a sharply rising or abruptly falling edge that accurately repeats once per second. PPS signals are output by radio beacons, frequency standards, other types of precision oscillators and some GPS receivers. Precision clocks are sometimes manufactured by interfacing a PPS signal generator to processing equipment that aligns the PPS signal to the UTC second and converts it to a useful display. Atomic clocks usually have an external PPS output, although internally they may operate at 9,192,631,770 Hz. PPS signals have an accuracy ranging from a 12 picoseconds to a few microseconds per second, or 2.0 nanoseconds to a few milliseconds per day based on the resolution and accuracy of the device generating the signal.
The NTP pool is a dynamic collection of networked computers that volunteer to provide highly accurate time via the Network Time Protocol to clients worldwide. The machines that are "in the pool" are part of the pool.ntp.org domain as well as of several subdomains divided by geographical zone and are distributed to NTP clients via round robin DNS. Work is being done to make the geographic zone selection unnecessary, via customized authoritative DNS servers that utilize geolocation software.
gpsd is a computer software program that collects data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and provides the data via an Internet Protocol (IP) network to potentially multiple client applications in a server-client application architecture. Gpsd may be run as a daemon to operate transparently as a background task of the server. The network interface provides a standardized data format for multiple concurrent client applications, such as Kismet or GPS navigation software.
In computing, a shared resource, or network share, is a computer resource made available from one host to other hosts on a computer network. It is a device or piece of information on a computer that can be remotely accessed from another computer transparently as if it were a resource in the local machine. Network sharing is made possible by inter-process communication over the network.
A clustered file system is a file system which is shared by being simultaneously mounted on multiple servers. There are several approaches to clustering, most of which do not employ a clustered file system. Clustered file systems can provide features like location-independent addressing and redundancy which improve reliability or reduce the complexity of the other parts of the cluster. Parallel file systems are a type of clustered file system that spread data across multiple storage nodes, usually for redundancy or performance.
Zeroshell is a small open-source Linux distribution for servers and embedded systems which aims to provide network services. Its administration relies on a web-based graphical interface; no shell is needed to administer and configure it. Zeroshell is available as Live CD and CompactFlash images, and VMware virtual machines.
Cristian's algorithm is a method for clock synchronization which can be used in many fields of distributive computer science but is primarily used in low-latency intranets. Cristian observed that this simple algorithm is probabilistic, in that it only achieves synchronization if the round-trip time (RTT) of the request is short compared to required accuracy. It also suffers in implementations using a single server, making it unsuitable for many distributive applications where redundancy may be crucial.