The software is distributed as source code which has to be compiled. The source code is supplied in the form of a gzipped tar file, which unpacks to a subdirectory identifying the name and version of the program.

After unpacking the source code, change directory into it, and type


This is a shell script that automatically determines the system type. There is a single optional parameter, --prefix which indicates the directory tree where the software should be installed. For example,

./configure --prefix=/opt/free

will install the chronyd daemon into /opt/free/sbin and the chronyc control program into /opt/free/bin. The default value for the prefix is /usr/local.

The configure script assumes you want to use gcc as your compiler. If you want to use a different compiler, you can configure this way:

CC=cc CFLAGS=-O ./configure --prefix=/opt/free

for Bourne-family shells, or

setenv CC cc
setenv CFLAGS -O
./configure --prefix=/opt/free

for C-family shells.

If the software cannot (yet) be built on your system, an error message will be shown. Otherwise, Makefile will be generated.

On Linux, if development files for the libcap library are available, chronyd will be built with support for dropping root privileges. On other systems no extra library is needed. The default user which chronyd should run as can be specified with the --with-user option of the configure script.

If development files for the editline or readline library are available, chronyc will be built with line editing support. If you don’t want this, specify the --disable-readline flag to configure.

If a timepps.h header is available (e.g. from the LinuxPPS project), chronyd will be built with PPS API reference clock driver. If the header is installed in a location that isn’t normally searched by the compiler, you can add it to the searched locations by setting the CPPFLAGS variable to -I/path/to/timepps.

Now type


to build the programs.

If you want to build the manual in HTML, type

make docs

Once the programs have been successfully compiled, they need to be installed in their target locations. This step normally needs to be performed by the superuser, and requires the following command to be entered.

make install

This will install the binaries and man pages.

To install the HTML version of the manual, enter the command

make install-docs

Now that the software is successfully installed, the next step is to set up a configuration file. The default location of the file is /etc/chrony.conf. Several examples of configuration with comments are included in the examples directory. Suppose you want to use public NTP servers from the project as your time reference. A minimal useful configuration file could be

pool iburst
makestep 1.0 3

Then, chronyd can be run. For security reasons, it’s recommended to create an unprivileged user for chronyd and specify it with the -u command-line option or the user directive in the configuration file, or set the default user with the --with-user configure option before building.

Support for line editing libraries

chronyc can be built with support for line editing, this allows you to use the cursor keys to replay and edit old commands. Two libraries are supported which provide such functionality, editline and GNU readline.

Please note that readline since version 6.0 is licensed under GPLv3+ which is incompatible with chrony’s license GPLv2. You should use editline instead if you don’t want to use older readline versions.

The configure script will automatically enable the line editing support if one of the supported libraries is available. If they are both available, the editline library will be used.

If you don’t want to use it (in which case chronyc will use a minimal command line interface), invoke configure like this:

./configure --disable-readline other-options...

If you have editline, readline or ncurses installed in locations that aren’t normally searched by the compiler and linker, you need to use extra options:


This defines the name of the directory above the one where readline.h is. readline.h is assumed to be in editline or readline subdirectory of the named directory.


This defines the directory containing the libedit.a or file, or libreadline.a or file.


This defines the directory containing the libncurses.a or file.

Extra options for package builders

The configure and make procedures have some extra options that may be useful if you are building a distribution package for chrony.

The --mandir=DIR option to configure specifies an install directory for the man pages. This overrides the man subdirectory of the argument to the --prefix option.

./configure --prefix=/usr --mandir=/usr/share/man

to set both options together.

The final option is the DESTDIR option to the make command. For example, you could use the commands

./configure --prefix=/usr --mandir=/usr/share/man
make all docs
make install DESTDIR=./tmp
cd tmp
tar cvf - . | gzip -9 > chrony.tar.gz

to build a package. When untarred within the root directory, this will install the files to the intended final locations.