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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 13 Mar 2012

My Debian Squeeze box DOESN'T spring forward

I'm always wondering about people who forget to spring forward or fall back when daylight saving time begins or ends.

Now I'm one of them.

I have a 10 a.m. conference call today, and looking at the clock on my GNOME desktop in Debian Squeeze, my operating system on this laptop since late 2010, I dial into the call.

There's nobody there.

Later I'm working on my test laptop, running DragonFlyBSD, on which I have the ntpd daemon running. It's an hour ahead.

Except that it's not. My Debian laptop is an hour behind.

It didn't spring forward. I didn't either.

Why?

And why didn't I notice this before? I've been through more than a few DST cycles in the year-and-a-half-plus I've been runng Debian Squeeze, and you'd think I'd have noticed this before now.

I went into the Synaptic Package Manager and searched for ntp.

Turns out I didn't have ntp, or ntpdate installed.

(openntpd, the OpenBSD version of network time synchronization, is also available, and I've had much success with it when running OpenBSD, but I usually use the standard ntp in Linux.)

I must have had ntp and ntpdate on the box at some point. But they weren't there this morning.

I installed ntp and ntpdate, and within seconds my laptop clock reset to the correct PDT clock time.

I still can't figure out why/how ntp and ntpdate were missing.

Has this ever happened to you?

Later: I've been asked whether or not I have the tzdata package installed. I did and do. I've also been asked what time zone I have selected in the system: America/Los Angeles.

What I think happened was that I had the laptop suspended all of Sunday, and somehow whatever is supposed to happen to spring the clock forward didn't. When I resumed it Monday morning, I was an an hour behind (and a reboot didn't change that).