[time-nuts] Best OS for small time server

Jason Rabel jason at extremeoverclocking.com
Wed Feb 20 22:44:10 EST 2008

>> I am about to put together a little time server for my office network
>> based on a Trimble ACE II GPS unit and a single-board computer with a
>> Pentium MMX CPU.
>> Assuming that the main function of this computer is to run ntpd with
>> PPS, what is the current best choice of OS - also taking into
>> consideration the fact that it is a computer with limited resources in
>> todays terms.  Linux or one of the BSDs?
> I've built a few little time servers based on OpenBSD. The kernel can
> grab a timestamp of the 1PPS signal and can extract time data from the
> NMEA stream and feed those to ntpd. My home time server is a gps18/lvc
> hanging off serial port 2 on a soekris net4801. it's adequate,
> considering i have to use home powerline network to bring net to the
> soekris. I'm sure there are are much higher precision installations,
> but this was quick, easy, and basically good enough.
> PHK's ntpns looks neat too...

Linux would require some work to get a PPS signal to work... Either using a
custom patched kernel, shmpps, or gpsd (the last two are probably the
easiest to implement methods). Also while I'm sure there are CompactFlash
type distro's, I'm not familiar with any.

FreeBSD will support a PPS signal natively. If you have a hard drive you
could just run a plain install, if you want to run off a CompactFlash module
then I would suggest building a NanoBSD image. It took me a few tries to get
it right but I'm very happy with the performance.

ntpns currently only supports the Oncore & dcf77 receivers, so its not for
everyone. I have it running on my net4501 w/Oncore UT+ and it has been
happily humming away.

Besides a "time server" what other features are you looking for?

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