Network Working Group                                       J. Crowcroft
Request for Comments:  1165                                          UCL
                                                               J. Onions
                                                   Nottingham University
                                                               June 1990

                Network Time Protocol (NTP) over the OSI
                       Remote Operations Service

Status of this Memo

   This memo suggests an Experimental Protocol for the OSI and Internet
   communities.  Hosts in either community, and in particular those on
   both are encouraged to experiment with this mechanism.  Please refer
   to the current edition of the "IAB Official Protocol Standards" for
   the standardization state and status of this protocol.  Distribution
   of this memo is unlimited.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction...........................................    1
   1.1 Motivation............................................    1
   2. Protocol Overview......................................    2
   3. Operation of the Protocol..............................    3
   4. Network Considerations.................................    4
   5. Implementation Model...................................    4
   6. Constructing NTP Data Fields...........................    4
   7. Discussion.............................................    4
   8. Prototype Experience...................................    5
   9. References.............................................    5
   10. Acknowledgements......................................    6
   Appendix A. NTP Remote Operations Service Specification...    6
   11. Security Considerations...............................    9
   12. Authors' Addresses....................................    9

1.  Introduction

   This document describes the Remote Operations and Abstract Syntax for
   the operation of the Network Time Protocol (NTP) over an ISO OSI

   NTP itself is documented in great detail in RFC 1119.

1.1  Motivation

   The motivation behind the implementation of a Remote Operations

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   Service implementation of NTP is fourfold.

      1.  The inclusion of a useful service to an OSI

      2.  The feasibility of automatically checking a ROS/ASN.1
          specification, and automatically generating code to
          implement the protocol.

      3.  The feasibility of running NTP on connection oriented
          network services (CONS or X.25), and consequentially,
          the ability to use connection success or failure to
          optimise reachability discovery.

      4.  The generalisation of the last point: the use of ROS
          makes NTP independent of the underlying communications

   The need for time synchronisation is clear, and RFC 1119 indicates a
   few of the necessary uses of this service.  However, it is becoming
   clear that OSI applications are very much in need of this service
   too.  Not just in the local context but across the wide area.  For
   example much of the strong authentication outlined in X.511 is based
   on encrypted packets with time stamps to indicate how long the packet
   is valid for.  If two hosts have clocks that are not closely
   synchronised, the host with the faster clock will be more prone to
   cryptographic attacks from the slower, and the slower host will
   possibly find it is unauthentable.

   A similar problem occurs with the X.500 directory and the service
   control limiting the time allowed for the search.

   Authentication between NTP peers and between clients and servers is
   not addressed here, as the choice of mechanism is still the subject
   of some debate.

2.  Protocol Overview

   The NTP application functions exactly as in RFC 1119.  The use of
   remote operations and the underlying Application support means that
   for NTP daemons to peer with one another, they send an A-

   On successful association, they subsequently periodically invoke the
   appropriate Remote Operation with the appropriate parameters at the
   appropriate frequency.

   On failure, they mark the peer as unreachable.

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   The states that an ntp daemon records for each peer are enhanced from
   RFC 1119 to include:

      Connected: this indicates the host is connected with its peer and
      synchronisation data is being exchanged.

      Connecting: this state indicates that a connection is in progress.
      Hosts at large distances may take several seconds to connect, and
      such blocking can perturb the exchange of data with other hosts.
      Therefore, the connection is made asynchronously.

      Accepting: this state indicates that a connection is being
      accepted from another host, but the necessary negotiation of
      transport session etc has not been fulfilled yet.  This is another
      asynchronous part.

      Disconnected: this state is reached if the remote host cannot be

3.  Operation of the Protocol

   The use of a connection oriented service means that the operation of
   the NTP algorithm is slightly different.  This stems firstly from
   some necessary adjustments made to the protocol and secondly from
   some optimisations that are possible through the use of connections.

   Firstly, the reachability of the host can be directly determined.
   The NTP protocol maintains a shift register to determine if it is
   likely that a peer is still responding and exchanging data.  This
   works by recording over the last eight transfers how many responses
   have been received.  If there have been no responses to the last
   eight packets, then the host is deemed unreachable.

   Naturally, with a connection to the remote host, the reachability is
   immediately determinable.  Either a connection is established or the
   connection is broken or not yet made.  For this reason it is not
   necessary to rely on the shift register to determine reachability.

   Secondly, there are a large number of optimisations that can be made
   by use of the connection oriented mode.  The NTP packet format can be
   broken into several categories.

      a) Synchronisation data

      b) Authentication data

      c) Protocol data

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   Of these classes of data, only the first (a) is necessary to maintain
   the synchronisation between hosts.  Information such as protocol
   version and the precision of the local clock are not likely to vary
   over the lifetime of the connection.  Likewise the authentication if
   in use need only be done at connection establishment and is not
   necessarily required for every packet.

   For these reason, the NTP protocol can be simplified slightly to
   remove this information.  This can be seen in the specification for
   the Packet in Appendix A.

4.  Network Considerations

   Although on first inspection it might be thought that a high speed
   network is necessary for accurate synchronisation, this is not the
   case.  What is more important is the dispersion of the packet
   traversal times.  It is normally the case that a low speed network
   with little variance in packet transit times will give better results
   than a high speed network with large differences in individual packet
   transit times.  This would lead us to think that connection oriented
   networks with resource allocation done at connection time might lead
   to higher accuracies than connectionless networks which can suffer
   large swings in packet transit time under high loading.  (This is

5.  Implementation Model

   Ideally, the implementor will provide interoperability between the
   existing UDP based NTP service, and a ROS based service.

   To this end, the internal records that hold NTP state information,
   can be kept the same as existing implementations, and for
   optimisation reasons, the internal representations of NTP packets can
   be the same.  Translation between these and appropriate ROS/ASN
   concrete encodings can be provided by automatic translators such as
   Rosy [ISODE].

6.  Constructing NTP Data Fields

   The way in which the data fields in the Packet described in Appendix
   A is unchanged from RFC 1119.  This simplifies implementations based
   on existing ones, and encourages interworking.

7.  Discussion

   From the limited testing of this model so far done, the results would
   seem to indicate that the ROS based model running over an X.25
   service is of similar reliability as the UDP model.  Until further

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   experimentation can be performed, specific data can not be given.

   However, in the UK where the most common method of time
   synchronisation is the system administrators watch and typing in the
   time to the nearest minute, this method is clearly far superior.

   Connection management is transparent to NTP since it is implemented
   beneath the Remote Operations Service.  However, an NTP
   implementation must have access to the status of connections, and
   uses this not only for reachability information but also to find the
   information gleaned at connect time and no longer exchanged in NTP

8.  Prototype Experience

   There are a number of UK sites running NTP over ROS over X.25 with an
   earlier ROS specification, with at least one site peering both over
   ROS with UK sites on X.25, and over UDP with US Internet sites.

   Initial experience is promising.  The table below shows the
   reachabilities, delays, offsets and dispersions for the central UK
   site peering with 2 JANET sites (IP addresses not meaningful, but
   shown as, and three US sites.

      Address            Strat Poll Reach    Delay   Offset    Disp
      +            3   64  377     718.0      0.0      3.0         1 1024  177     535.0     13.0     13.0
      *            1   64  167     545.0     10.0    524.0

9.  References

   1.  Mills, D., "Network Time Protocol (Version 2) Specification and
       Implementation", RFC-1119, UDEL, September 1989.

   2.  Mills, D., "Algorithms for Synchronizing Network Clocks", RFC-
       956, M/A-COM Linkabit, September 1985.

   3.  Postel, J. "User Datagram Protocol", RFC-768, USC Information
       Sciences Institute, August 1980.

   4.  ISO TC97, "Specification of Abstract Syntax Notation One
       (ASN.1)", Draft International Standard ISO/DIS 8824, 6 June 1985.

   5.  CCITT, "Remote Operations: Model, Notation and Service
       Definition", CCITT X.ros0 or ISO/DP 9072/1, Geneva, October 1986.

   6.  Mills, D., "Internet Time Synchronization: The Network Time

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       Protocol (NTP)", RFC 1129, UDEL, October 1989.

   7.  Mills, D., "Measured Performance of the Network Time Protocol in
       the Internet System", RFC 1128, October 1989.

   8.  Rose M., et al, "The ISO Development Environment: User's Manual".

10.  Acknowledgements

       The Authors would like to thank Dave Mills for his valuable
       comments on an earlier version of this document.

Appendix A.  ROS "Header" Format

       -- NTP definitions for ROS specification
       -- Julian Onions, Nottingham University, UK.
       -- Mon Jun  5 10:07:07 1989



       update OPERATION
        ARGUMENT Packet
        ::= 0

       query OPERATION
        RESULT ClockInfoList
        ::= 1

       -- Data Structures

       BindArgument ::=
        fullbind SEQUENCE {
                psap[0] IA5String OPTIONAL,
                version[1] BITSTRING {
                } DEFAULT version-2,
                authentication[2] Authentication OPTIONAL,
                mode[3] BindMode

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       Authentication ::= ANY

       BindMode ::= ENUMERATED {
                normal(0),      -- standard NTP
                query(1)        -- queries only

       BindResult ::=
        SEQUENCE {
                version[1] INTEGER DEFAULT 2,
                authentication[2] Authentication OPTIONAL,
                mode[3] BindMode

       BindError ::=
        SEQUENCE {
                reason[0] INTEGER {
                        version(2),     -- version not supported
                        badarg(3),      -- bad bind argument
                        congested(4)    -- catch all!
                supplementary[1] IA5String OPTIONAL

                                        -- basic exchange packet

       Packet ::= SEQUENCE {
        leap                    Leap,
        mode                    Mode,
        stratum[1]              INTEGER,
        pollInterval[2]         INTEGER,
        precision[3]            INTEGER,
        synchDistance           SmallFixed,
        synchDispersion         SmallFixed,
        referenceClockIdentifier ClockIdentifier,
        referenceTimestamp      TimeStamp,
        originateTimestamp      TimeStamp,
        receiveTimestamp        TimeStamp,
        transmitTimestamp       TimeStamp

       ClockInfoList ::= SET OF ClockInfo

       ClockInfo ::= SEQUENCE {
        remoteAddress           Address,

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        localAddress            Address,
        flags[0]                BIT STRING {
        packetsSent[1]          INTEGER,
        packetsReceived[2]      INTEGER,
        packetsDropped[3]       INTEGER,
        timer[4]                INTEGER,
        leap                    Leap,
        stratum[5]              INTEGER,
        ppoll[6]                INTEGER,
        hpoll[7]                INTEGER,
        precision[8]            INTEGER,
        reachability[9]         INTEGER,
        estdisp[10]             INTEGER,
        estdelay[11]            INTEGER,
        estoffset[12]           INTEGER,
        reference[13]           ClockIdentifier OPTIONAL,
        reftime                 TimeStamp,
        filters                 SEQUENCE OF Filter

       Leap ::= [APPLICATION 0] ENUMERATED {

                integer INTEGER,
                fraction INTEGER

       ClockIdentifier ::= CHOICE {
                        referenceClock[0] PrintableString,
                        inetaddr[1] OCTET STRING,
                        psapaddr[2] OCTET STRING

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                integer INTEGER,
                fraction INTEGER

       KeyId ::= [APPLICATION 4] INTEGER

       Mode ::= [APPLICATION 4] ENUMERATED {
                unspecified (0),
                symmetricActive (1),
                symmetricPassive (2),
                client (3),
                server (4),
                broadcast (5),
                reservered (6),
                private (7)

       Filter ::= SEQUENCE {
                offset INTEGER,
                delay INTEGER

       Address ::= OCTET STRING -- for now

11. Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

12. Authors' Addresses

   Jon Crowcroft
   Computer Science Department
   University College London
   Gower Street
   London WC1E 6BT UK


   Julian P. Onions
   Computer Science Department
   Nottingham University
   University Park
   Nottingham, NG7 2RD UK


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