[chrony-users] How to fail over to Internet when local server is not available

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I am trying to run chrony (Ubuntu 14.04 binary packages) to synchronize my desktop and a laptop that sits on top of a mobile robot. For various reasons, the laptop on the robot has to be the chrony master and the desktop polls the laptop for time updates. However, since the robot and its laptop are often turned off while I am doing other work on the desktop, I want the desktop's chrony daemon to fail over to another Internet chrony server when it can't reach the robot's laptop.

After reading the chrony manual and FAQ, I can't seem to get the desired behavior. Here is the relevant section of my chrony.conf file on the desktop:

server 0.debian.pool.ntp.org offline minpoll 8
server 1.debian.pool.ntp.org offline minpoll 8
server 2.debian.pool.ntp.org offline minpoll 8
server 3.debian.pool.ntp.org offline minpoll 8

server pi-robot-netbook.local prefer iburst minpoll 8

The robot laptop is pi-robot-netbook.local. If this laptop is off when I start chrony on the desktop, the chrony daemon starts in offline mode instead of realizing that it has other servers it could try. I could not find any parameters that tell chrony to ignore a server during startup if it cannot be reached within a certain time window. I also tried running:

$ chronyc -a online

but I get the error:

506 Cannot talk to daemon

even though the daemon is running:

ps -ef | grep chrony
root     16257  1841  0 16:40 ?        00:00:00 /usr/sbin/chronyd

And tracking shows:

$ chronyc tracking

Reference ID    : ()
Stratum         : 10
Ref time (UTC)  : Sun Jun 12 23:43:41 2016
System time     : 0.000000000 seconds fast of NTP time
Last offset     : 0.000000000 seconds
RMS offset      : 0.000000000 seconds
Frequency       : 7.410 ppm slow
Residual freq   : 0.000 ppm
Skew            : 0.000 ppm
Root delay      : 0.000000 seconds
Root dispersion : 0.000001 seconds
Update interval : 0.0 seconds
Leap status     : Not synchronised

Any thoughts on how I can make this work?


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