Ok, I have this raspberry pi zero that's been running for most of a year now and I noticed a few weeks ago that the time was off by several hours. I did some digging and it just plain thinks that UTC time is 4 hours before what it should be.

I poke around the internets, and tried the items here to no avail. I found this post and my ntp.conf file is exactly the same (I ran diff on them to verify). I haven't tried setting the time explicitly with ntp -s... because I was under the impression that's what ntp is for?

I've set the timezone using the sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata command (and sudo raspi-config but those seem to get to the same menu with the same options). This results in the timezone being ok, but UTC is still off.

pi@raintree:~ $ date
Mon Sep 17 04:13:52 PDT 2018
pi@raintree:~ $ 
pi@raintree:~ $ date -u
Mon Sep 17 11:13:58 UTC 2018

Right now, that should show Mon Sep 17 15:13:58 UTC 2018. EDIT I am referencing https://time.is/UTC. Screen shot here.

ntpq seems to be ok.

pi@raintree:~ $ ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
 li290-38.member .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000
 PBX.cytranet.ne .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000
 ns1.backplanedn .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000  .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000

Any ideas on where else to look?

Misc info:

pi@raintree:~ $ uname -a
Linux raintree 4.9.35+ #1014 Fri Jun 30 14:34:49 BST 2017 armv6l GNU/Linux
pi@raintree:~ $ 
pi@raintree:~ $ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Raspbian
Description:    Raspbian GNU/Linux 8.0 (jessie)
Release:    8.0
Codename:   jessie
  • if your local time at the moment was 04:13, then the UTC time is correct as PDT equals UTC-7.
    – kwasmich
    Sep 17, 2018 at 15:33
  • Understood, which is why I posted the time it should say Mon Sep 17 15:13:58 UTC 2018. That is the "current" (at the time of the post) time in UTC. So it is 4 hours off. Sep 17, 2018 at 16:38
  • What was your LOCAL time back then and what was your source for UTC?
    – kwasmich
    Sep 17, 2018 at 17:01
  • Do you have another system that you can check UTC?
    – Seamus
    Sep 17, 2018 at 17:15
  • I used https://time.is/UTC. I posted a screen shot here Sep 17, 2018 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


ntp can't correct such a lapse. On boot, I run ntpdate before starting ntp, ntpdate can handle any correction.

  • Ah, interesting, I installed ntpdate, but when I ran it, I got 19 Sep 19:35:29 ntpdate[2676]: no servers can be used, exiting, I re-ran raspi-config and selected my timezone and now seem to be in a good place. I'm guessing having ntpdate allowed the raspi-config to properly set the date. Sep 19, 2018 at 19:40
  • Oh, how are you starting ntpdate each boot? Sep 19, 2018 at 19:41
  • I "tweaked" /etc/init.d/ntp, first thing in the start function is now ntpdate. Sep 19, 2018 at 20:16

If the time on your Raspberry is off by hours with 0 minute, then I suspect it is a problem with your timezone setting. You already said that you had reconfigured your Rpi with a correct timezone using either dpkg-reconfigure tzdata and/or raspi-config. However, make sure the changes to just made did get updated in the /etc/timezone file.

  • Huh, my /etc/timezone file was not updated. I installed ntpdate per Gerard's post and it seems to have been updated after that. :shrug: Sep 19, 2018 at 19:39

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