On my Ubuntu 13.04 (using AWS). When I start a new machine or when I reboot my machine ntp does not start and I see the following in the syslog:

Jan 10 02:56:49 ntpd: unable to bind to wildcard address - another process may be running - EXITING

I also notice that before this ntpdate was used to adjust time

Jan 10 02:45:20 ntpdate[960]: adjust time server offset -0.000259 sec

I am not sure if this is a race condition or me missing something here, I would appreciate if anyone can help me out here.


4 Answers 4


This is because the ntpdate is running when you try to start the server. I haven't found reasons why to leave it installed so you could remove it if you are using ntp daemon:

sudo apt-get remove ntpdate

I've seen this on Debian Jessie. The cause appears to be a race between /etc/init.d/ntp and /etc/network/if-up.d/ntpdate, both of which appear to contain logic to lock each other out that doesn't actually work.

I like having the ntpdate command available even though I rarely use it, so rather than uninstall ntpdate altogether I've just inserted

exit 0

as the second line of /etc/network/if-up.d/ntpdate, which makes it do nothing. My ntp daemon now starts successfully at boot time.

  • This worked for me and this is a persistent change, but it might confuse the upgrade-wizard/process, when the system is upgraded to the next release.
    – knb
    Mar 14, 2017 at 11:31
  • The "logic... that doesn't actually work" may be because it depends on having package lockfile-progs installed. Without that, the relevant blocks are silently skipped and the locking will not work. Jul 14, 2017 at 15:07

Had a similar problem on Debian 5,

a simple restart of ntp solved it for me

/etc/init.d/ntp stop
/etc/init.d/ntp start

just in case other have same problem

NTPD was recently installed, it seems that a restart after install is needed, I noticed this on Debian 6 also.

  • 1
    This worked for me and solved the immediate issue.
    – jewettg
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:44

This was fixed in 2008 by adding locking, but if you disabled installing Recommends or uninstalled lockfile-progs then you will still have this problem (note that you should expect problems if you disabled installing Recommends).

  • AFAICT, in Jessie (8.8) it doesn't Recommend lockfile-progs :(. In Stretch (9.0), it is fixed again by calling the flock command instead. Thanks for the pointer.
    – sourcejedi
    Jun 20, 2017 at 14:50
  • @sourcejedi packages.debian.org/jessie/ntpdate
    – wRAR
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:37
  • Heh, I had an assumption they would put the Recommends on both packages. Thanks again :).
    – sourcejedi
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:45
  • @sourcejedi ntpd doesn't need to lock against itself
    – wRAR
    Jun 22, 2017 at 16:47
  • I have 16.04 and still see this problem after a logrotate. lockfile-progs is installed and it does not happen every time. Is ntpdate run once in a while and blocking ntpd at such times? Aug 5, 2018 at 23:31

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