I know there are instructions for installing full NTP, but I'd rather change the default server under the default implementation. This question has come up before for 12.04 LTS, however the answer there:

edit the value of NTPSERVERS in /etc/default/ntpdate

appears to be no longer valid.

  • In my /etc/default/ntpdate there is a warning that the file is not actually used, but that /etc/ntp.conf is used instead. There are various time servers mentioned in /etc/ntp.conf, did you try changing that? – Jos Nov 3 '16 at 7:42
  • what was the question before 12.04 ? – Anwar Nov 3 '16 at 7:57
  • @Jos: neither of those exist for me on a fresh install of 16.04 LTS (installed in VMware player.) – PaulBags Nov 3 '16 at 8:34
  • @Anwar: link – PaulBags Nov 3 '16 at 8:34

According to the official documentation at: https://help.ubuntu.com/lts/serverguide/NTP.html

The nameserver to fetch time for timedatectl and timesyncd from can be specified in /etc/systemd/timesyncd.conf and with flexible additional config files in /etc/systemd/timesyncd.conf.d/.

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  • Cheers :). I like to be thorough and check that these changes are actually taking place, the man pages for timesyncd gave me the command "systemctl status systemd-timesyncd.service" as an example; and that showed up the NTP server I'd assigned. – PaulBags Nov 3 '16 at 8:45

Ubuntu 16.04 uses by default server ntp.ubuntu.com [reference].

To change the default server, edit the config file with an editor:

sudo vi /etc/systemd/timesyncd.conf

Uncomment the NPT= line and define the server you want to be used instead of default:


To "audit" the time-synchronization events and verify the server that was contacted, use the following command:

cat /var/log/syslog | grep systemd-timesyncd
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  • 1
    systemctl status systemd-timesyncd can also be used to "audit," see PaulBags comment on the accepted answer (I like yours better). And sudo systemctl restart systemd-timesyncd can be used to force a sync. – Ulrich Stern Aug 22 '19 at 18:49

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