Errors during startup

Eric S. Raymond esr at
Sat Dec 17 10:03:54 UTC 2016

Hal Murray <hmurray at>:
> [was broadcastclient]
> esr at said:
> >> Should that sort of trap fail to start?  Will users get surprised
> >> when they miss the error message or annoyed when they know
> >> what to expect but they have to work harder to try it?
> > I'm a big fan of failing noisily and early in circumstances like these.
> > That said. I don't think it matters very much whether ntpd terminates
> > immediately afterwards.  The important thing is that the parse error is
> > logged and/or visible on stderr right after startup; it should be made easy
> > to notice what has gone wrong. 
> There is a general problem in this area.  The normal startup forks and 
> detaches from the tty before it processes the config file and gets started so 
> all the error messages during startup are not visible even if you are 
> watching stuff scroll past.
> The typical workstation distro hides the startup logging behind cute 
> graphics.  I guess we can assume that the distro has debugged things well 
> enough so that's not a problem and that anybody installing our code on their 
> own knows how to find the errors.  Maybe we should have a short chunk for 
> newbies describing the logging and init scripts and such.

Sigh, so we don't actually have the option of failing noisily.

There are short chunks for newbies describing how ntpd is launched by
init/systemd in two places: the Stratum 1 Microserver HOWTO and the GPSD
Time Service HOWTO. I'm a little reluctant to open such a section in the
main documentation because those launch facilities have become quite the
flamewar topic lately.
		<a href="">Eric S. Raymond</a>

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