useful commands: ntpq -crv ntpq -p if ntpq -p looks like this: remote refid st t when poll reach delay offset jitter ============================================================================== time.nrc.ca .INIT. 16 u 836 1024 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 time1.chu.nrc.c .INIT. 16 u 825 1024 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 ntp1.torix.ca .INIT. 16 u 835 1024 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 i.e. refid is ".INIT." and reach and all columns to the right of it are 0 that means... your ntpd is too old? This was seen on an ancient gentoo box, which was working fine until 2014 March 11, when the output of ntpq -p suddenly changed to this for no discernable reason. ntpdate still worked from this machine. if ntpq -p looks alright (there are nonzero values in the right four columns), check "ntpq -crv". If it says 'stratum=16', the server probably hasn't had time to synch up yet. ntpd takes an annoyingly long time to do this. Even after stratum has become not 16, sometimes other parameters also take a while to show up, during which your server looks like it should be "suitable for synchronization" but isn't. Sample output from a recently started ntp server that clients think is still "unsuitable": associd=0 status=c018 leap_alarm, sync_unspec, 1 event, no_sys_peer, version="ntpd firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 17 13:45:13 UTC 2010 (1)", processor="i686", system="Linux/2.6.32-5-686", leap=11, stratum=16, precision=-21, rootdelay=0.000, rootdisp=1.305, refid=STEP, reftime=00000000.00000000 Wed, Feb 6 2036 22:28:16.000, clock=d6d0953a.8e45e0a1 Sun, Mar 16 2014 14:25:14.555, peer=0, tc=6, mintc=3, offset=0.000, frequency=-782.492, sys_jitter=0.000, clk_jitter=0.000, clk_wander=0.000 A bit later, but still unsuitable: associd=0 status=c618 leap_alarm, sync_ntp, 1 event, no_sys_peer, version="ntpd email@example.com Sun Oct 17 13:45:13 UTC 2010 (1)", processor="i686", system="Linux/2.6.32-5-686", leap=11, stratum=3, precision=-21, rootdelay=83.471, rootdisp=1073.343, refid=220.127.116.11, reftime=d6d09578.04dff32b Sun, Mar 16 2014 14:26:16.019, clock=d6d0959e.438fe792 Sun, Mar 16 2014 14:26:54.263, peer=55573, tc=6, mintc=3, offset=0.000, frequency=-782.492, sys_jitter=51.278, clk_jitter=24.776, clk_wander=0.000 Here is a suitable one (same server, quite a while later): associd=0 status=0618 leap_none, sync_ntp, 1 event, no_sys_peer, version="ntpd firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 17 13:45:13 UTC 2010 (1)", processor="i686", system="Linux/2.6.32-5-686", leap=00, stratum=4, precision=-21, rootdelay=112.853, rootdisp=1078.759, refid=18.104.22.168, reftime=d6d09918.b1e4c910 Sun, Mar 16 2014 14:41:44.694, clock=d6d09939.2e0fe48f Sun, Mar 16 2014 14:42:17.179, peer=55572, tc=6, mintc=3, offset=-35.018, frequency=-500.000, sys_jitter=26.038, clk_jitter=12.381, clk_wander=101.024 Note that in order for the server to become suitable, all of the following had to happen: - Stratum had to become lower than 16 - leap_alarm / leap=11 had to be cleared (this seems to be a hack, setting the leap second alarm as a way to indicate 'server not ready yet'. I don't understand why they can't just have a "server_ready" flag or something...) - need nonzero values for: clk_jitter clk_wander offset frequency sys_jitter ...basically everything. If your stratum looks low enough but things still aren't synching, just assume you need to wait for ntpd to measure all these other things?