[chrony-users] Understanding Chrony SOCK time sample "not valid age"

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I'm new to the mailing list. I really hope I'm not doing this wrong but I can't seem to understand how Chrony validates refclock time samples. 

I've implemented a C program running on RHEL that needs to forward time samples from one server to another over a one-way optical link. The time on the source server is a simple gettimeofday(), it's stored in a message and sent to the receiving C server program which then pushes a time sample to a Chrony SOCK. When I test this on my local system it works fine, but between the servers I receive the following debug logs (I enabled chrony debug logging):

Sep 01 01:28:31 red-node.local chronyd[14186]: 2021-09-01T01:28:31Z refclock.c:616:(valid_sample_time) SOCK refclock sample time 1630459715.587552000 not valid age=-4.064528
Sep 01 01:29:31 red-node.local chronyd[14186]: 2021-09-01T01:29:31Z refclock.c:616:(valid_sample_time) SOCK refclock sample time 1630459775.588427000 not valid age=-4.065328
Sep 01 01:30:31 red-node.local chronyd[14186]: 2021-09-01T01:30:31Z refclock.c:616:(valid_sample_time) SOCK refclock sample time 1630459835.588663000 not valid age=-4.065453 

My source server is 4 seconds ahead of the target server and I'm a bit confused because I want to actually have chrony gracefully bring the target server time (4 seconds) in line with my source server.

There's no internet or local NTP server in this situation, so this is the only way I can feed time into Chrony. I could simply force the local time to match, but Chrony does all the graceful time adjustment stuff that I would never be able to get right.

My /etc/chrony.conf:

refclock SOCK /var/run/chrony.sock offset 0.002 delay 1e-9 refid SOCK

I'm using the chrony refclock time sample structure as required:

struct time_sample  {  
    /* Time of the measurement (system time) */  
    struct timeval tv;  
    /* Offset between the true time and the system time (in seconds) */
    double offset;
    /* Non-zero if the sample is from a PPS signal, i.e. another source  
        is needed to obtain seconds */
    int pulse;
    /* 0 - normal, 1 - insert leap second, 2 - delete leap second */
    int leap;
    /* Padding, ignored */
    int _pad;
    /* Protocol identifier (0x534f434b) */
    int magic;

The `not valid age` is not a well documented case, but in the chrony source that logs that message, there's a basic time sample diff between `now` and the time sample where anything less than a 0.0 is invalid.

static int
valid_sample_time(RCL_Instance instance, struct timespec *sample_time)
  struct timespec now;
  double diff;

  LCL_ReadCookedTime(&now, NULL);
  diff = UTI_DiffTimespecsToDouble(&now, sample_time);

  if (diff < 0.0 || diff > UTI_Log2ToDouble(instance->poll + 1)) {
    DEBUG_LOG("%s refclock sample time %s not valid age=%.6f",
              UTI_TimespecToString(sample_time), diff);
    return 0;

  return 1;

What this suggests is a time sample containing a time ahead of the receiving chrony server time will be rejected.

I must be misunderstanding the situation or what time samples are completely. It makes no sense to me that a time sample sent to a chrony service that is 4 seconds ahead would reject the time, since its job is to sync time with/from a source (ahead or behind).

This also could be a SOCK only situation. If it is, please let me know. I'll have to find another way to update the chrony time. Similarly if you have an alternative suggestion it would be helpful.

Thank you!


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