Time Sync with Linux Guests on VMware

Apparently VMware recommends, when working with Linux guests, to sync the guest’s time via traditional NTP rather than the vmware-toolboxd.

NTP Recommendations Note: VMware recommends you to use NTP instead of VMware Tools periodic time synchronization. NTP is an industry standard and ensures accurate time keeping in your guest. You may have to open the firewall (UDP 123) to allow NTP traffic.

This is a sample /etc/ntp.conf:

tinker panic 0 restrict restrict default kod nomodify notrap server 0.vmware.pool.ntp.org server 1.vmware.pool.ntp.org server 2.vmware.pool.ntp.org driftfile /var/lib/ntp/drift

This is a sample (RedHat specific) /etc/ntp/step-tickers:

0.vmware.pool.ntp.org 1.vmware.pool.ntp.org

The configuration directive tinker panic 0 instructs NTP not to give up if it sees a large jump in time. This is important for coping with large time drifts and also resuming virtual machines from their suspended state.

Note: The directive tinker panic 0 must be at the top of the ntp.conf file.

It is also important not to use the local clock as a time source, often referred to as the Undisciplined Local Clock. NTP has a tendency to fall back to this in preference to the remote servers when there is a large amount of time drift.

An example of such a configuration is:

server fudge stratum 10

Comment out both lines.

After making changes to NTP configuration, the NTP daemon must be restarted. Refer to your operating system vendor’s documentation.

VMware Tools time synchronization configuration When using NTP in the guest, disable VMware Tools periodic time synchronization.

To disable VMware Tools periodic time sync, perform one of these options:

Set tools.syncTime = "FALSE" in the configuration file (.vmx file) of the virtual machine.


Deselect Time synchronization between the virtual machine and the host operating system in the VMware Tools toolbox GUI of the guest operating system.


Run the vmware-guestd --cmd "vmx.set_option synctime 1 0" command in the guest operating system. To enable time syncing again, use the same command with "0 1" instead of "1 0".

For ESX 4.1 and later, use these parameters for Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD:

To display the current status of the service:

vmware-toolbox-cmd timesync status

To disable periodic time synchronization:

vmware-toolbox-cmd timesync disable

These options do not disable one-time synchronizations done by VMware Tools for events such as tools startup, taking a snapshot, resuming from a snapshot, resuming from suspend, or VMotion. These events synchronize time in the guest operating system with time in the host operating system, so it is important to make sure that the host operating system’s time is correct.

To do this for VMware ACE, VMware Fusion, VMware GSX Server, VMware Player, VMware Server, and VMware Workstation, run time synchronization software such as NTP or w32time in the host. For VMware ESX run NTP in the service console. For VMware ESXi, run NTP in the VMkernel.

Note: VMware Tools one-time synchronization events should not disabled.

Source: VMware KB: Timekeeping best practices for Linux guests