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Is it possible to use ntpdate behind a HTTP proxy with authentication? In case it is not possible, are there any good alternatives?

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What OS please? – KCotreau Jul 6 '11 at 17:09
Linux in my case (don't think it matters much though). – Ton van den Heuvel Jul 6 '11 at 19:52
It only mattered because it was harder to find anything remotely for Windows. The key search I used was "NTP over HTTP", in case you want to search further. – KCotreau Jul 6 '11 at 19:58
Thanks for the tip :) – Ton van den Heuvel Jul 6 '11 at 19:59

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

One Liner

Assuming environment variable http_proxy is already set:

sudo date -s "$(curl -sD - | grep '^Date:' | cut -d' ' -f3-6)Z"

To be sure what's being passed to sudo date -s, just run the curl ... part of the command to see its output:

curl -sD - | grep '^Date:' | cut -d' ' -f3-6

Or a safer version which check the output length of curl:

date_utc=$(curl -sD - | grep '^Date:' | cut -d' ' -f3-6)

[ -n "$date_utc" ] && sudo date -s "${date_utc}Z"


Just in case, certain options might be needed for curl:

  • curl -x $proxy

    to explicitly set the proxy server to use, required if http_proxy is not set, default to protocol http and port 1080 (manual).

  • curl -H 'Cache-Control: no-cache'

    to explicitly disable caching, especially when used in a cron job and/or behind a proxy server.

BTW, is preferred over, because the former results in a 301 redirect response, which is much smaller (569 vs 20k+ characters) but still good to use.

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sudo date -s "$(wget -qSO- --max-redirect=0 2>&1 | grep Date: | cut -d' ' -f5-8)Z" – ryenus Sep 29 '14 at 6:32
^ above is the wget version, though I personally prefer using curl. – ryenus Sep 29 '14 at 6:35
Passing unsanitized data from internet as a variable to a sudo invocation? Is it 1999? – dfc Sep 29 '14 at 8:16
@dfc, I guess it would be definitely a concern if Google is changing its http response, or it's hacked, both are less likely to happen. But you're right, the user can always run the curl/wget first to check the output, then run sudo date -s, maybe always should :-) – ryenus Sep 29 '14 at 8:21
Or just use tlsdate and not rely on nasty kludges like this. – dfc Sep 29 '14 at 8:23

Expanding on the answer by carveone:

sudo date -s "$(wget -S  "" 2>&1 | grep -E '^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:' | sed 's/^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:[[:space:]]*//' | head -1l | awk '{print $1, $3, $2,  $5 ,"GMT", $4 }' | sed 's/,//')"
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Caveat, this would create file 'index.html*' in the current directory. – ryenus Feb 25 '14 at 2:27
A shorter version without file creation: sudo date -s "$(curl -sD - | grep '^Date:' | tr -d '\r,' | awk '{print $2, $4, $3, $6, $7, $5}')" – ryenus Feb 25 '14 at 2:29
Note that the short version should use since is redirecting to it via 301 now with the date "stuck" – Hansi Mar 28 '14 at 14:19
@Hansi, is good to use because the response from curl -sD still includes the Date: ... line, and IMHO it's even better because the redirection yields a much smaller response size (569 vs 20,058). – ryenus Jul 3 '14 at 6:44
When I made the comment the response for that command returned a day four days out of date. – Hansi Jul 3 '14 at 9:55

This seems like a clear case for tlsdate.

 tlsdate: secure parasitic rdate replacement

  tlsdate sets the local clock by securely connecting with TLS to remote
  servers and extracting the remote time out of the secure handshake. Unlike
  ntpdate, tlsdate uses TCP, for instance connecting to a remote HTTPS or TLS
  enabled service, and provides some protection against adversaries that try
  to feed you malicious time information.

I do not think i have ever seen so many recommendations to use unsanitized data from internet as an argument to a sudo invocation.


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This answer should really be at the top. – Piët Delport Aug 5 at 8:02

If it is purely an HTTP proxy, it is using port 80, so the basic answer is no to that specifically. NTP uses UDP port 123. If it is a more generic proxy server, serving all ports, then maybe.

There are some programs out there that do NTP over HTTP. I do not use Linux, but this one might do it: (still not sure if this will do authentication either).

I could not find one for Windows, but I will post back if I do.

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Again for Linux, so I cannot add much other than a link: There might also be something that one of these publishes: – KCotreau Jul 6 '11 at 17:12
The NTP over HTTP link is inspiring, thanks for that! – Ton van den Heuvel Jul 6 '11 at 19:50

A quick and dirty solution for people behind a http proxy server:

My location is GMT+4, I can check out the current time from timeapi server with url, for more info pls checkout the website for your location.

To setup date & time I do:

time sudo date $(wget -O - "" 2>/dev/null | sed s/[-T:+]/\ /g | awk '{print $2,$3,$4,$5,".",$6}' | tr -d " " )

You can repeat the command if the initial 'time' command reports a high value...

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Thanks for the tip, I got it even easier: sudo date -s "$(curl -s" You don't need to pay attention to the timezone if your OS is set correctly. Linux recognizes the timezone provided in the string and sets the system time appropriately. – Melebius Apr 15 '14 at 6:12

Assuming the http_proxy environment variable is set:

wget -S --spider "" 2>&1 | grep -E '^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:' | sed 's/^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:[[:space:]]*//'

Or use curl -I --proxy="..." ""

After all, if Google's site doesn't have its time set there's no hope.

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Expanding on

Let's assume you're in Berlin (Germany).

Then use this:

sudo TZ=Europe/Berlin date -s "$(TZ=Europe/Berlin date --date='TZ="UTC" '"$(wget -S  "" 2>&1 | grep -E '^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:' | sed 's/^[[:space:]]*[dD]ate:[[:space:]]*//' | head -1l | awk '{print $1, $3, $2,  $5 , $6, $4 }' | sed 's/,//')")"
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You should explain what is different in your solution in comparison to the answer by fiford_g. – pabouk Aug 27 '14 at 13:43

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