NTP quick start guide

This version is out of date. For current versions, see Puppet Enterprise support lifecycle.

Welcome to the Puppet Enterprise NTP Quick Start Guide. This document provides instructions for getting started managing an NTP service using the Puppet NTP module.

The clocks on your servers are not inherently accurate. They need to synchronize with something to let them know what the right time is. NTP is a protocol designed to synchronize the clocks of computers over a network. NTP uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to synchronize computer clock times to within a millisecond.

Your entire datacenter, from the network to the applications, depends on accurate time for many different things, such as security services, certificate validation, and file sharing across nodes.

NTP is one of the most crucial, yet easiest, services to configure and manage with Puppet Enterprise. Using the Puppet NTP module, you can do the following tasks:

  • Ensure time is correctly synced across all the servers in your infrastructure.
  • Ensure time is correctly synced across your configuration management tools.
  • Roll out updates quickly if you need to change or specify your own internal NTP server pool.

This guide will step you through the following tasks:

Install Puppet Enterprise and the Puppet Enterprise agent

If you haven’t already done so, install PE. See the supported operating system documentation for supported platforms.

  1. Download and verify the appropriate tarball.
  2. Refer to the installation overview to determine how you want to install PE, and follow the instructions provided.
  3. Refer to the agent installation instructions to determine how you want to install your PE agents, and follow the instructions provided.

Note: You can add the NTP service to as many agents as needed. For ease of explanation, our console images and instructions might show only one agent.

Install the puppetlabs-ntp module

The puppetlabs-ntp module is part of the PE supported modules program. These modules are supported, tested, and maintained by Puppet. You can learn more about the puppetlabs-ntp module by visiting the Puppet Forge.

To install the puppetlabs-ntp module:

From the PE master, run puppet module install puppetlabs-ntp.

You should see output similar to the following:

    Preparing to install into /etc/puppetlabs/code/environments/production/modules ...
    Notice: Downloading from http://forgeapi.puppetlabs.com ...
    Notice: Installing -- do not interrupt ...
    └── puppetlabs-ntp (v3.1.2)

That’s it! You’ve just installed the puppetlabs-ntp module. You’ll need to wait a short time for the Puppet server to refresh before the classes are available to add to your agent nodes.

Use the PE console to add classes from the NTP module

The NTP module contains several classes. Classes are named chunks of Puppet code and are the primary means by which Puppet Enterprise configures nodes. The NTP module contains the following classes:

  • ntp: the main class; this class includes all other classes (including the classes in this list).
  • ntp::install: this class handles the installation packages.
  • ntp::config: this class handles the configuration file.
  • ntp::service: this class handles the service.

We’re going to add the ntp class to a node group we’ll create, called NTP, which will contain all of your nodes. Depending on your needs or infrastructure, you may have a different group that you’ll assign NTP to, but these same instructions would apply.

To create the NTP node group:

  1. In the PE console, click Nodes > Classification, and click Add group.
  2. Specify options for the new node group:
    • Parent name – Select default.
    • Group name – Enter a name that describes the role of this environment node group, for example, NTP.
    • Environment – Select production.
    • Environment group – Don’t select this option.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Click the NTP group, then select the Rules tab.
  5. In the Fact field, enter name.
  6. From the Operator drop-down list, select ~ (matches regex).
  7. In the Value field, enter .*.
  8. Click Add rule.

    This rule will [“dynamically” pin all nodes]((./console_classes_groups.html#adding-nodes-dynamically) to the NTP group. Note that this rule is for testing purposes and that decisions about pinning nodes to groups in a production environment will vary from user to user.

To add the ntp class to the NTP group:

  1. In the console, click Nodes > Classification, and find and select the NTP group.

  2. On the Classes tab, in the Class name field, select ntp.

    Tip: You only need to add the main ntp class; it contains the other classes from the module.

  3. Click Add class, and commit changes.

    Note: The ntp class now appears in the list of classes for the NTP group, but it has not yet been configured on your nodes. For that to happen, you need to kick off a Puppet run.

  4. From the command line of your Puppet master, run puppet agent -t.

  5. From the command line of each PE-managed node, run puppet agent -t.

    This will configure the nodes using the newly-assigned classes.

Success! Puppet Enterprise is now managing NTP on the nodes in the NTP group. So, for example, if you forget to restart the NTP service on one of those nodes after running ntpdate, PE will automatically restart it on the next Puppet Enterprise run.

Using the Events page to view changes made by the ntp class

The Events page lets you view and research changes and other events. For example, after applying the ntp class, check the Events page to confirm that changes were indeed made to your infrastructure.

Note that in the summary pane on the left, one event, a successful change, has been recorded for Nodes: with events. However, there are two changes for Classes: with events and Resources: with events. This is because the ntp class loaded from the puppetlabs-ntp module contains additional classes—a class that handles the configuration of NTP (Ntp::Config) and a class that handles the NTP service (Ntp::Service).

Click With Changes in the Classes: with events summary view. The main pane will show you that the Ntp::Config and Ntp::Service classes were successfully added when you ran PE after adding the main ntp class.

The further you drill down, the more detail you’ll see. Eventually, you will end up at a run summary that shows you the details of the event. For example, you can see exactly which piece of Puppet code was responsible for generating the event. In this case, it was line 15 of the service.pp manifest and line 21 of the config.pp manifest from the puppetlabs-ntp module.

If there had been a problem applying this class, this information would tell you exactly which piece of code you need to fix. In this case, the Events page simply lets you confirm that PE is now managing NTP.

In the upper right corner of the detail pane is a link to a run report which contains information about the Puppet run that made the change, including logs and metrics about the run. See Infrastructure reports for more information.

For more information about using the Events page, see Working with the Events page.

Use the PE console to edit parameters of the ntp class

With Puppet Enterprise you can edit or add class parameters in the PE console without needing to edit the module code directly.

The NTP module, by default, uses public NTP servers. But what if your infrastructure runs an internal pool of NTP servers?

Changing the server parameter of the ntp class can be accomplished in a few steps using the PE console.

To edit the server parameter of the ntp class:

  1. In the console, click Nodes > Classification, and find and select the NTP group.

  2. On the Classes tab, find ntp in the list of classes.

  3. From the parameter drop-down list, choose servers.

    Note: The grey text that appears as values for some parameters is the default value, which can be either a literal value or a Puppet variable. You can restore this value by selecting Discard changes after you have added the parameter.

  4. In the Value field, enter the new server name (for example, ["time.apple.com"]). Note that this should be an array, in JSON format.
  5. Click Add parameter, and commit changes.
  6. From the command line of your Puppet master, run puppet agent -t.
  7. From the command line of each PE-managed node, run puppet agent -t.

    This will trigger a Puppet run to have Puppet Enterprise create the new configuration.

Puppet Enterprise will now use the NTP server you’ve specified for that node.

Hint: Remember to check the Events page to be sure the changes were correctly applied to your nodes!

Other resources

For more information about working with the puppetlabs-ntp module, check out our Puppetlabs-NTP: A Puppet Enterprise supported module blog post and our How to manage NTP webinar.

Puppet offers many opportunities for learning and training, from formal certification courses to guided online lessons. We’ve noted a few below; head over to the learning Puppet page to discover more.

  • Learning Puppet is a series of exercises on various core topics about deploying and using PE.
  • The Puppet workshop contains a series of self-paced, online lessons that cover a variety of topics on Puppet basics. You can sign up at the learning page.
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