Setting Up Time Synchronization On Debian 10

Setting up Time Synchronization on Debian 10

Accurate time synchronization is critical. In modern software, the user ensures if logs are recorded in the right order or database updates are applied correctly, out-of-sync time can cause errors, data corruption, and other difficult issues to debug.

In this article, you would see that  Debian 10 is time synchronization built-in, it is activated using the standard ntpd time server by default and provided by the ntp package. To let your studies work better, choose your own Ubuntu VPS Server with instant activation.



To let this tutorial work better, please consider the below Prerequisites:
A non-root user with sudo privileges
To set up, follow our Initial Setup with Debian 10

Setting Up Time Synchronization On Debian 10

Join us to review some basic time-related commands, verify that ntpd is active and connected to peers, and learn how to activate the alternate systemd-timesyncd network time service. So let’s get ready to go through the steps of this guide and learn more about Time Synchronization on Debian 10.

Step 1: How To Navigate Basic Time Commands

You can use date to find out the time on your server. all users are able to run the below command and print out the date and time.

Wed 31 Jul 2019 06:03:19 PM UTC

Your server will default to the UTC time zone as you see in the output. What is UTC? It is Coordinated Universal Time, the time at zero degrees longitude. Consistently using Universal Time reduces confusion when your infrastructure spans multiple time zones. But also you can use the timedatectl command if you have different requirements and need to change the time zone.

First, list the available time zones:

timedatectl list-timezones

To print your screen, you need a list of time zone. By pressing SPACE to page down and b to page up. Do not forget to make note of it when you find the correct time zone and then type q to exit the list.

It is time to set the time zone with timedatectl set-timezone. Make sure to replace the (America/New_York) with the time zone you find on the list. Remember to use sudo with timedatectl to make this change:

sudo timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York

To verify your changes, you can run date again:



Wed 31 Jul 2019 02:08:43 PM EDT

The time zone abbreviation should reflect the newly chosen value. From now on you know how to check the clock and set time zones. So we are going to make sure our time is being synchronized properly.



Step 2: How To Check The Status Of ntpd

You can trust Debian 10 bout presenting you the standard ntpd server to keep your system time synchronized with a pool of external time servers as it runs ntpd by default.

To check it is running, use the below command:

sudo systemctl status ntp


● ntp.service - Network Time Service     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/ntp.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)     Active: active (running) since Wed 2019-07-31 13:57:08 EDT; 17min ago       Docs: man:ntpd(8)   Main PID: 429 (ntpd)      Tasks: 2 (limit: 1168)     Memory: 2.1M     CGroup: /system.slice/ntp.service             └─429 /usr/sbin/ntpd -p /var/run/ -g -u 106:112  . . .

When you see the active (running) status in the output, it means that ntpd started up properly. To get more information about the status of ntpd you can use the ntpq command:

ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter  ==============================================================================   0.debian.pool.n .POOL.          16 p    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000   1.debian.pool.n .POOL.          16 p    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000   2.debian.pool.n .POOL.          16 p    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000   3.debian.pool.n .POOL.          16 p    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000  +     2 u   12   64  377   39.381    1.696   0.674  +     2 u    6   64  377   22.671    3.536   1.818     3 u   43   64  377   12.012    1.268   2.553     2 u   11   64  377   69.922    2.858   0.604     2 u   10   64  377   35.362    3.148   0.587  #       2 u   65   64  377   42.380    1.638   1.014  +t1.time.bf1.yah    2 u    6   64  377   11.233    3.305   1.118  *sombrero.spider      2 u   47   64  377    1.304    2.941   0.889  +hydrogen.consta   2 u   45   64  377    1.830    2.280   1.026  -    2 u   42   64  377   29.077    2.997   0.789  #horp-bsd01.horp   2 u   39   64  377   16.165    4.189   0.717     2 u   46   64  377   27.914    3.717   0.939

ntpq is a query tool for ntpd. The -p flag asks for information about the NTP servers (or peers) ntpd is connected to. Your output will be slightly different but should list the default Debian pool servers plus a few others. Bear in mind that it can take a few minutes for ntpd to establish connections.

Step 3: How To Switch To systemd-timesyncd

In case you need to replace ntpd, you can use systemd’s built-in timesyncd component. timesyncd is a lighter-weight alternative to ntpd that is more integrated with systemd. Note, however, that it doesn’t support running as a time server, and it is slightly less sophisticated in the techniques it uses to keep your system time in sync. If you are running complex real-time distributed systems, you may want to stick with ntpd.

First, uninstall ntpd to use timesyncd:

sudo apt purge ntp

Then, start up the timesyncd service:

sudo systemctl start systemd-timesyncd

Finally, check the status of the service to make sure it’s running:

sudo systemctl status systemd-timesyncd    
● systemd-timesyncd.service - Network Time Synchronization     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/systemd-timesyncd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)    Drop-In: /usr/lib/systemd/system/systemd-timesyncd.service.d             └─disable-with-time-daemon.conf     Active: active (running) since Wed 2019-07-31 14:21:37 EDT; 6s ago       Docs: man:systemd-timesyncd.service(8)   Main PID: 1681 (systemd-timesyn)     Status: "Synchronized to time server for the first time ("      Tasks: 2 (limit: 1168)     Memory: 1.3M     CGroup: /system.slice/systemd-timesyncd.service             └─1681 /lib/systemd/systemd-timesyncd


You can use timedatectl to print out systemd’s current understanding of the time:

               Local time: Wed 2019-07-31 14:22:15 EDT             Universal time: Wed 2019-07-31 18:22:15 UTC                   RTC time: n/a                  Time zone: America/New_York (EDT, -0400)  System clock synchronized: yes                NTP service: active            RTC in local TZ: no


This prints out the local time, universal time (which may be the same as local time, if you didn’t switch from the UTC time zone), and some networking time status information. System clock synchronized: yes means that the time has been successfully synced, and NTP service: active means that timesyncd is enabled and running.


Recommended Article: 3 useful Hacks for Linux users


In this article,  you learned how to view the system time, change time zones, work with ntpd, and switch to systemd’s timesyncd service. If you have more sophisticated timekeeping needs than what we’ve covered here, you might refer to the official NTP documentation, and also take a look at the NTP Pool Project, a global group of volunteers providing much of the world’s NTP infrastructure. If you are interested in this subject, read more related articles on Set date and time on Ubuntu 18 AND Set Timezone on CentOS 7 Linux.

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Marilyn Bisson
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10 thoughts on “Setting Up Time Synchronization On Debian 10

    1. You need to use the below command to do this. , scroll to the bottom of the Continents list and select Etc or None of the above; in the second list, select UTC.
      sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

    1. Yes sure, to ensure it, follow the below path please:
      Use the ntpstat command to view the status of the NTP service on the instance. [ec2-user ~]$ ntpstat. …
      Also you can use the ntpq -p command to see a list of peers known to the NTP server and a summary of their state.

    1. In this situation, you can simply allow NTP incoming queries from the specific network to Open NTP on Firewall
      ufw allow from to any port 123 proto udp

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