A Linux NTP Server provides an accurate time resource for the synchronisation of a network of computers and other network infrastucture. A stratum 1 server obtains accurate time from a hardware clock reference such as GPS or radio and is used to synchronise other servers lower down the stratum heirachy. It is generally accepted that a network should have at least one time reference to synchronise time on all the other devices. This reduces the potential for timing discrepencies between servers and workstations which could cause real problems in many applications, particularly transaction processing.
TimeTools can provide dedicated 19" 1U high rackmountable NTP servers that reside directly on a network or serial\USB GPS and radio time references that can be used on a Linux based PC utilising the standard NTP distribution.
Our dedicated Linux NTP servers obtain precise time directly from GPS or MSF/DCF-77 time references and provide an accurate stratum 1 network time resource. These devices utilise a reduced Linux kernel and the standard NTP distribution running in flash memory. By utilising dedicated hardware, they can provide extreemly reliable and very accurate network time references. They are also very cost-effective, since they eliminate much of the installation and configuration time required by utilising a PC based solution with an external hardware clock.
Also available are GPS timing receivers with serial and USB interfaces that can be used as a precise reference clock for the NTP daemon on standard PC hardware. The GPS system has a number of advantages over radio based systems. Firstly, GPS is a global system, so GPS solutions can be used anywhere in the world. Also, they provide a much more accurate source of time, able to provide a accuracies of within nanoseconds of UTC.
Our RS232 serial and USB hardware clocks utilise the MSF (UK) or DCF-77 (German) time and frequency transmitters to provide a time reference for NTP on standard PC hardware. Radio solutions can be easier to install than GPS systems, since they do not necessarily need roof-mounted antennas. Often a radio antenna can receive a good signal indoors, close to the host computer, thus significantly reducing installation costs.
Many Linux distributions have the NTP distribution either pre-installed or available as an RPM. Alternatively, the source code can be freely downloaded from the NTP website for compilation and configuration on the host computer. There are many complex configuration options that are available with NTP - particularly for authentications and to restrict access. However, provided that during initial installation, configuration is kept as simple as possible, few issues should arise.