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NTP Appliance for vSphere (ESXi)

Posted on 2010-11-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
anyone know of an NTP appliance for ESX/vSphere.

(virtual appliance and not a hardware appliance!)

forget this one - NTP (Network Time) Appliance | Virtual Appliance Marketplace
http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/210

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gheist earned 125 total points
ID: 34143110
ESX itself contains NTP client from ntp.org
I suppose that virtualisation does not offer good timing, it is better to get old but good computer ( like retired workstation), hook it to cheap USB GPS (or at least internet file servers) and check if it does not have huge termal drifts.
Virtualisation will add 1/10s offset to your clocks compared to standalone computer. Old workstations from Compaq or IBM, or old UNIX servers (like ~ year 2000 from SUN or HP or IBM, or even PPC Mac ) have very good clock circuits if you change CMOS battery with new one they will work for 10 years to come.

Basically any Linux or BSD will have same timing support.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 0 total points
ID: 34143167
I'm looking for a NTP Virtual appliance. (virtual machine) which does the job, for our large network, or I'll purchase a dedicated hardware appliance, but these are costly with GPS.

the NTP appliance in the market place was a good start, but support is poor, which I suppose is to be expected with freeware/open source.
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by:gheist
ID: 34143553
NTP is a very simple service
You can install Meinberg NTP on vCenter (not on AD servers)
Or install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on a new vm
Clients query it like once a day (windows) or once in an hour (printers)
http://ntp.org/ has detailed instructions on configuring either NTP server to acquire time from internet.
virtualization adds some inaccuracy to clocks, so I would prefer separate bare hardware machine to get 1/100 accuracy instead of 1/10, and USB GPS to get even better.
If you have multiple locations with independent net access you can construct NTP source in each.
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by:gheist
ID: 34143625
NTP server for windows here: http://www.meinberg.de/english/sw/ntp.htm
it has no kernel colock speed adjustment like Linux, but with virtualization you will not notice the difference, BUT it has nice add-on to monitor clock drifting. I would recommend to gain some experience with this tool and then use findings to get final setup. And there is nothing preventing you from running it on your worksatation to compare virtual vs physical accuracy...
(i suppose any linux or bsd VA will have ntp server preinstalled)
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LVL 118
ID: 34148203
yep, I knows all this.

NTP appliance for ESX/vSphere.

I was hoping to save some time, rather than "homebrew"/""cook" a solution myself.

I might as well, use an old Cisco 2500/2600, in the rack!
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by:gheist
ID: 34150505
Does not take more than 5 minutes to install....
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LVL 118
ID: 34150785
thanks but I was after a virtual appliance to do the job. (commerical or otherwise).
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by:bgoering
ID: 34152154
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by:gheist
ID: 34153210
Yes, Mandriva's minimum installation is smallest from major distributions
Steps to install same using latest Mandriva:
1) get full ISO Free 2010 Spring 64 bits (32bit also does)
2) Install minimum with urpmi on single / without allocating swap (256MB disk is enough to get to next release, but you might need to temporarily add memory)
3) install mandriva repositories as instructed on http://easyurpmi.zarb.org
4) urpmi --auto-update
5) urpmi ntpd

follow security at least twice a year....
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LVL 118
ID: 34153698
http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/1165

@bgoering this is the one we've been using for years, but it's just stopped working, and no response to post in the forum, so doesn't look like it's supported anymore. Shame.

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by:gheist
ID: 34154126
Try my instructions to rebuild appliance.
Use servers like 0.cc.pool.ntp.org where cc is your or neighboring country code and number goes up
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by:bgoering
ID: 34155180
Hmmm, I have three copies of that appliance (three different locations) and they all still work. What are the symptomes with yours?
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LVL 118
ID: 34156582
the problem is the applicance has never download the random NTP servers, we don't know why, other than I suspect it doesn't like ISA/Proxy server, it has DNS and Gateway setup correctly.

but recently we have 6 locations in the UK, using the same NTP appliance, and we no longer get NTP responses from server

obtaining random ip's for pool.ntp.org has never worked at 6 locations in the UK.

but it's worked for years, since 2006 using IP 192.43.244.18 (time.nist.gov)

but now has stopped, because the Ref Source is invalid.

we have 1 site in the UK using this appliance, working well, because it pulls the list down with no error, but this is sat in a DMZ behind NATed router! (no firewalls or cascaded proxys)

if we knew, where the list was, we could pull it off this appliance and add to the others!

maybe this is off topic, and it would be best for new Q!
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Assisted Solution

by:bgoering
bgoering earned 125 total points
ID: 34157265
Have you configured yoru ISA server to allow NTP traffic? Take a look at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323621 for how to set that up. It shouldn't really use any proxy functions, just NAT and a packet filter to allow the traffic.

time.nist.gov is still showing as valid in alll three of my setups with a refid of .ACTS.

You could probably create your own custom /etc/ntp.conf and /etc/ntp/steptickers files, then either change the attributes for them to remove write access so the discovery phase for ntp servers don't wipe them out, or modify the /etc/appliance.sh to comment out the /etc/ntpdstartup.sh command that obtains the random IPs.

Screen shots below for example ntp.conf, step-tickers, and appliance.sh

You can get server lists from http://www.pool.ntp.org/en/

Good Luck



ntp.conf.png
ntp.step-tickers.png
ntp.appliance.sh.png
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LVL 118
ID: 34157289
yep ISA is passing traffic!

it's very odd.
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LVL 118
ID: 34157311
and I've not done anything on six sites, apart from restart the appliances again, and

time.nist.gov is now showing as valid in alll 6 of my setups with a refid of .ACTS.

so I don't know, what the hick-up is, unless it's further up the comms link!!!!
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LVL 118
ID: 34157410
should read "wasn't really answered in response......"
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Author Closing Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
ID: 34186391
The question was really answered in response to "anyone know of an NTP Appliance for ESXi/vSphere" which is not a hardware appliance and not the URL already tried.

But to be far points allocated to the Experts for their knowledge of NTP in this area.
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