I want to get the current date and time according to a remote NTP server, using Linux. I don't want to change the local time as a result; I just want to get the remote date, adjusted for the local time zone, printed out. The date returned must comply with the following criteria:

  1. It needs to be reasonably accurate.
  2. It needs to be adjusted for the timezone on the local system making the request.
  3. It needs to be formatted in an easily-readable or interpretable way (standard date format, or seconds since epoch).

What I've Tried:

I can call ntpdate -q my.ntp.server and get the offset between the local time and the server's time, but that doesn't return the date according to the NTP server; it just returns the offset and the local date.

Is there some easy way/command I can use to say: "Print out the date according to a given NTP server, adjusted for my current timezone"?

  • Is parsing the output an option? I mean, if you have your system's time and the offset from the ntp server time, it should be relatively easy to combine the 2 and infer the ntp server's time.
    – terdon
    Dec 4, 2012 at 15:42
  • How? My awk skills are rusty...
    – Zac B
    Dec 4, 2012 at 15:48
  • I don't have ntpdate on my system, if you post the output, maybe I or someone else can figure it out.
    – terdon
    Dec 4, 2012 at 15:56
  • similar question: superuser.com/questions/155772/…
    – golimar
    May 9, 2013 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


This Perl script should do what you need (assuming you don't need precision to the 10-6 of a second):

#!/usr/bin/perl -w

use strict;
use Math::Round;

## Get current date (epoch)
my $date=time();

## Get the seconds offset, rounding to the nearest second
my $ntp=nearest(0.1,`ntpdate -q $ARGV[0] | gawk '(\$NF~/sec/){print \$(NF-1)}'`); 

## Get the server's time
my $ntp_date=$date+$ntp;

## Convert to human readable and print
print "The time according to server $ARGV[0] is " . localtime($ntp_date) . "\n";

Save the script as check_ntp.pl and run it with the server as an argument:

perl ./check_ntp.pl my.ntp.server
  • 1
    Not sure if this actually works. I set my system time to be several hours off, but ntpdate printed offset -0.000033 sec. Perhaps something using ntpdate -d and looking at reference time is more useful?
    – Mikel
    May 16, 2015 at 19:29

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