OneFS Time Synchronization & NTP

We’re in the process of blog site migration. Currently, these articles are also being posted to the former Dell EMC Community Network Isilon blog, until the DECN site is finally decommissioned:

Thank you in advance for your patience during this transition period.


That said, there have been several recent inquiries from the field around cluster time synchronization recently. So it seemed like an article on managing time and date on Isilon would be useful – and timely.

So, OneFS provides a network time protocol (NTP) service to ensure that all nodes in a cluster can easily be synchronized to the same time source. This service automatically adjusts a cluster’s date and time settings to that of one or more external NTP servers.

NTP configuration on a cluster is performed by using the ‘isi ntp’ command line (CLI) utility, rather than modifying the nodes’ /etc/ntp.conf files manually. The syntax for this command is divided into two parts: servers and settings. For example:

# isi ntp settings


    View and modify cluster NTP configuration.

Required Privileges:



    isi ntp settings <action>

        [--timeout <integer>]

        [{--help | -h}]


    modify    Modify cluster NTP configuration.

    view      View cluster NTP configuration.


  Display Options:

    --timeout <integer>

        Number of seconds for a command timeout (specified as 'isi --timeout NNN


    --help | -h

        Display help for this command.

There is also an isi_ntp_config CLI command available in OneFS that provides a richer configuration set and combines the server and settings functionality :

Usage: isi_ntp_config COMMAND [ARGUMENTS ...]



      Print this help and exit.


      List all configured info.

    add server SERVER [OPTION]

      Add SERVER to ntp.conf.  If ntp.conf is already

      configured for SERVER, the configuration will be replaced.

      You can specify any server option. See NTP.CONF(5)

    delete server SERVER

      Remove server configuration for SERVER if it exists.

    add exclude NODE [NODE...]

      Add NODE (or space separated nodes) to NTP excluded entry.

      Excluded nodes are not used for NTP communication with external

      NTP servers.

    delete exclude NODE [NODE...]

      Delete NODE (or space separated Nodes) from NTP excluded entry.

    keyfile KEYFILE_PATH

      Specify keyfile path for NTP auth. Specify "" to clear value.

      KEYFILE_PATH has to be a path under /ifs.

    chimers [COUNT | "default"]

      Display or modify the number of chimers NTP uses.

      Specify "default" to clear the value.

By default, if the cluster has more than three nodes, three of the nodes are selected as ‘chimers’. Chimers are nodes which can contact the external NTP servers. If the cluster comprises three nodes or less, only one node will be selected as a chimer. If no external NTP server is set, they will use the local clock instead. The other non-chimer nodes will use the chimer nodes as their NTP servers. The chimer nodes are selected by the lowest node number which is not excluded from chimer duty.

If a node is configured as a chimer. its /etc/ntp.conf entry will resemble:

# This node is one of the 3 chimer nodes that can contact external NTP

# servers. The non-chimer nodes will use this node as well as the other

# chimers as their NTP servers.


# The other chimer nodes on this cluster:

server iburst

server iburst

# If none or bad connection to external servers this node may become

# the time server for this cluster. The system clock will be a time

# source and run at a high stratum

In addition to managing NTP servers and authentication, individual nodes can also be excluded from communicating with external NTP servers.

The local clock of the node is set as an NTP server at a high stratum level. In NTP, a server with lower stratum number is preferred, so if an external NTP server is set the system will prefer an external time server if configured. The stratum level for the chimer is determined by the chimer number. The first chimer is set to stratum 9, the second to stratum 11, and the others continue to increment the stratum number by 2. This is so the non-chimer nodes will prefer to get the time from the first chimer if available.

For a non-chimer node, its /etc/ntp.conf entry will resemble:

# This node is _not_ one of the 3 chimer nodes that can contact external

# NTP servers. These are the cluster's chimer nodes:

server iburst true

server iburst true

server iburst true

When configuring NTP on a cluster, more than one NTP server can be specified to synchronize the system time from. This allows for full redundancy of ysnc targets. The cluster periodically contacts these server(s) and adjusts the time and/or date as necessary, based on the information it receives.

The ‘isi_ntp_config’ CLI command can be used to configure which NTP servers a cluster will reference. For example, the following syntax will add the server ‘’:

# isi_ntp_config add server

Alternatively, the NTP configuration can also be managed from the WebUI by browsing to Cluster Management > General Settings > NTP.

NTP also provides basic authentication-based security via symmetrical keys, if desired.

If no NTP servers are available, Windows Active Directory (AD) can synchronize domain members to a primary clock running on the domain controller(s). If there are no external NTP servers configured and the cluster is joined to AD, OneFS will use the Windows domain controller as the NTP time server. If the cluster and domain time become out of sync by more than 4 minutes, OneFS generates an event notification.

Be aware though, that if the cluster and Active Directory drift out of time sync by more than 5 minutes, AD authentication will cease to function.

If neither an NTP server or domain controller are available, the cluster’s time, date, and time zone can also be set manually using the ‘isi config’ CLI command.  For example:

1.     Run the ‘isi config’ command. The command-line prompt changes to indicate that you are in the isi config subsystem:

# isi config

Welcome to the Isilon IQ configuration console.

Copyright (c) 2001-2017 EMC Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Enter 'help' to see list of available commands.

Enter 'help <command>' to see help for a specific command.

Enter 'quit' at any prompt to discard changes and exit.

        Node build: Isilon OneFS v8.2.2 B_8_2_2(RELEASE)Node serial number: JWXER170300301


2.     Specify the current date and time by running the date command. For example, the following command sets the cluster time to 9:20 AM on April 23, 2020:

>>> date 2020/04/23 09:20:00

Date is set to 2020/04/23 09:20:00

3.     The ‘help timezone’ command will list the available timezones. For example:

>>> help timezone

timezone [<timezone identifier>]

Sets the time zone on the cluster to the specified time zone.

Valid time zone identifiers are:

        Greenwich Mean Time

        Eastern Time Zone

        Central Time Zone

        Mountain Time Zone

        Pacific Time Zone






4.     To verify the currently configured time zone, run the ‘timezone’ command. For example:

>>> timezone

The current time zone is: Greenwich Mean Time

5.     To change the time zone, enter the timezone command followed by one of the displayed options. For example, the following command changes the time zone to Alaska:

>>> timezone Alaska

Time zone is set to Alaska

A message confirming the new time zone setting displays. If your desired time zone did not display when you ran the help timezone command, enter ‘timezone Advanced’. After a warning screen, you will proceed to a list of regions. When you select a region, a list of specific time zones for that region appears. Select the desired time zone (you may need to scroll), then enter OK or Cancel until you return to the isi config prompt.

6.     When done, run the commit command to save your changes and exit isi config.

>>> commit

Commit succeeded.

Alternatively, these time and date parameters can also be managed from the WebUI by browsing to Cluster Management > General Settings > Date and Time.

Setting Up Share Host ACLs Isilon OneFS

Setting Up Share Host ACLs

How do you allow or deny host for SMB shares?

In Isilon’s OneFS administrators can set Host ACLs on SMB shares. Setting up theses ACLs can add an extra layer of security for files in a specific share. For example administrators can deny all traffic except from certain servers.

OneFS Setting Up Share Host ACLs Commands

Below are the commands used in the Setting Up Share Host ACLs demo. NASA refers to the SMB Share used deny all traffic except from the specific host or hosts.

List out all the shares specific zone

isi smb shares list

View specifics on particular share in access zone

isi smb shares view nasa

Modify Host ACLs on particular share in access zone

isi smb share modify nasa --add-acl

Clear Host ACLs on specific share

isi smb share modify nasa --clear-host-acl
isi smb share modify nasa --revert-host-acl


Video – Setting Up Host ACLs on Isilon File Share



Hi, folks. Thomas Henson here with And today is another episode of Isilon Quick Tips. So, what we want to cover on today’s episode is I want to go in through the CLI, and look at some of the commands that we can do on isi shares. And specifically, I want to look at some of the advanced features. So, something around the ACLs where we can deny certain hosts or allow certain hosts, too. So, follow along with me right after this. [Music]. So, in today’s episode we want to look at SMB Shares, but specifically from the Command Line. What we’re really going to focus on as I open this Share here is some of these advanced settings. So, you can see that we have some of these advanced settings, like continuous availability of time. And it looks like that we can change some of these. But when we change them, we’re just going to type in how we want to change those here. So, if you wanted to, for example in the host ACL, be able to deny or allow certain hosts, this is where we can do that. But let’s find out how we can this from the Command Line. Because there is a couple of different options, and a couple ways we can do it, and specifically we want to learn how to do it from the Command Line. So, here we are. I’m log back in to my Command Line. So, you can see I’m on Isilon-2. So, the first command I want to do is I want to list out all those SMB Shares that we had. So, we had three of those. So, the command is that we’re going to use in is the smb shares. And I’m just going to type return, so we can see what those actions are. So, you can see that we can do a list, which is the first thing we want to do. But you can also create those shares, you can delete shares, and we can view specific properties on each one of those shares. So, going back in. Let’s run a list on our shares. And you can see… All right. So, we have all those shares that we were just looking at from our [INAUDIBLE 00:02:00]. One thing to note here is if you are using this shares list command and you don’t see your zones, make sure that you type in the zone here. So, we will type in a specific zone. So, if you didn’t see the shares, make sure that you’re specifying exactly what zone there is. I only have one zone in my lab environment here on the system, so I can see that all may shares are there. So, now that I know my shares are there, let’s go back. I want to look at the nasa share that we have. So, let’s use the view command NASA. And you can see here that it’s going to give me my permissions, but then also those advanced features that we were talking about, we can see those here. So, for example we have the Access Based Enumeration. So, if you’re looking to be able to hide files or folders for users that don’t have those permissions, you can see that if that set here. Then also the File Mask. So, you can see that on default directly in File Mask is 700. So, if you’re looking about [INAUDIBLE 00:02:54] the File Mask is, if you’re not familiar, that’s the default permissions that are set whenever you have a File Directory that’s created in this share. So, you can see that in mine, the default setting is 700. Then specifically, the one that I really want to go over was the Host ACL. So, you can see the Hos ACL. I don’t have anything set here. And this is the property we can change, that will allow or deny certain hosts to the specific share. So, one of the reasons this came up is we were trying to secure an application from a share, and we wanted to able to say, ͞Hey, it’s only going to accept traffic from two or one specific server, and then we’re going to deny all those.͟ So, what we’re going to do is I want to walk through how to do that. So specifically, we’re still going to use our isismb share. But now we’re going to use the modify. So, you see the isi smb share modify command. You can see that when we do that… I’m just going to show you some of the commands that we have here. But you can see we have a lot of different options we can do. But the first thing is, remember, we’re going to type in that share.

So, here I want to pass in my nasa string. I don’t have to pass in zone, because I only have one zone. But if you have different zones, then you’re going to want to pass that zone in. The command that we’re specifically looking for is this host-acl. So, we have some options here with the host-acl. We can clear the host, we can add a host, and we can remove a host. So, what we want to do is we want to add a host that’s going to allow for host coming from. We’re just going to say Then we’re going to deny our host from that. So, we’re going to clear this out, so we can have that at the top of the screen. So, you can see we have it here. So, that isi smb shares modify. Then you’re going to put in here you share name. So, mine is nasa. And we’re going to do –add-host-acl=, the first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to allow. So, we’re going to allow traffic from Then we’re going to use a comma to separate that out, and then we’re going to say that we’re going to deny all. So, specifically we could do this different, and say that we want to allow traffic from all and then deny from specific ones. But from this use case, and this is probably the most common one especially when you’re trying to lock down a certain share, you’re going to want to use this command. So, we’re typing the command, get the command prompt back again. And now let’s do that view. So, it’s view our nasa, and see if our changes are in there. So, you can see in our Host ACL, we have it. Then if we wanted to go back to our share from the [INAUDIBLE 00:05:43] and just see if those changes took. You can see in our advanced setting here, now it showing us are allow and deny all. Now, [INAUDIBLE 00:05:52] to say that I want to keep this going on my [INAUDIBLE 00:05:55] or if I want to revert back. So, there is a couple of different options. If you remember we had the clear-host-acl or the revert back. So, now I can just use this isi smb shares modify on my nasa directory. Once again, just as a reminder, use your own name if you have a specific zone. Then now I can revert my Host ACL. Now, we have that, I’m going to clear this out, and check. You can see our Host ACL is reverted back. We don’t have one set there. So, now we’re allowing traffic as long as you have the permissions to get to this file, and we don’t have one set. Well, that’s all for Isilon Quick Tips for today. Make sure to subscribe so that you never miss an episode of Isilon Quick Tips, or some of the other amazing contents that I have on my YouTube Channel here. And I will see you next time. [Music]

Isilon Quick Tips: Setting Up NFS Export in OneFS

Another Isilon Quick Tip, where I walk through setting up NFS export in OneFS. Setting up NFS exports is one of the baseline skills needed when working with OneFS.


NFS or Network File System is a protocol that allows file based access in a distributed environments. If you are familiar with Windows based systems it’s similar to the SMB protocol but mostly used in Linux/Unix environments. Chances are if you have any Linux/UNIX machines in your environment, you will have a need for using NFS exports.

When Do I Need an NFS Export?

Let’s jump into a couple use cases when you would want to mount an NFS export.

  • Suppose you need extra capacity on your local machine
  • Offload archive data to a network based file system
  • Allow for file sharing abilities for a group of users
  • Manage file access across a in a distributed environment
  • Large data transfers or access to large files across network

Setting Up NFS Export in OneFS

  1. Open OneFS WebGUI
  2. Navigate to Protocols –> UNIX Sharing (NFS)
  3. Click Create Export
  4. Select directory to be shared
  5. Click Create Export
  6. Mount NFS export on Linux/UNIX machine (see commands below)


In this episode of Isilon Quick Tips, we’re going to focus on accessing NFS Exports from Isilon’s OneFS.

If you’re accessing Isilon from a Linux machine, you’ll want to make use of the network file system—or NFS—protocol. To do this, we’ll be using mount commands. But first, let’s set up a directory that we want to share out through an NFS export. All this will be done from OneFS web interface and a Linux command line. So, follow along.

From our Protocol tab, we’ll go to the UNIX Sharing or NFS. Within our NFS Exports, we’ll have one defaulted, and that default will be for our IFS directory. Remember, anything in that IFS directory is everything that’s in Isilon. So, that’s one that’s set up by default, but let’s set up one that is specific just to maybe our data. So, I’m going to create an export. We can select our path and we can go down as deep as we want. So, I could go into our data and do something off the home shares or some of the archive data. But I just want to set a top-level directory for just our data path and share this one out. So, I’m going to select ifs/data, and then this is all of our data in Isilon. You don’t have to set a description. It’s just good once you start managing quite a few of these. You want to be like, okay, you can look at it and say, “Hey, okay, that’s actually what this export supports.” With our permissions, we can restrict it to read-only, but we don’t want to do that because we want to be able to make this a working directory. But I will click the “Enable mount access to subdirectories.” So, we’re not only accessing that data – we’re actually accessing everything inside of data and all the subdirectories involved as well. From here, I’ll just create my export, and we get a green check, which means we’re good to go. We now have two exports available. We have one from our IFS and one from our data. So, now we’ll need to jump back into a Linux box and access this from the command line.

So, from our Linux machine, I’m just going to show my directory path. So, I’m here in the root directory and I’ve got some files here. The first thing I want to do—and one of the ways that I always troubleshoot setting up the NFS mounts—is let’s see what mounts are available. So, we’re going to run a showmount command, and what we’re expecting to see is that IFS export, and also the IFS data that we just set up. So, the syntax is just showmount -e, and it’s going to be our Isilon cluster name. So, I’ve just got an IP address for mine. All right, and just like we expected, we see our IFS data, and then our IFS, and those are both accessible to us. Now all we have to do is create a directory to put this in. So, from our root directory, I’m just going to use an mkdir, and let’s set up a directory called our data-share. Just confirm that it’s there. And now we’ll just that mount command. So, mount [Isilon cluster name]:, which export we’re going to use. Remember, we’re going to use the IFS data, but you could use the IFS and mount to all the data that’s in Isilon. Now we need to put the full path of the directory that we want to put it in. So, we just created the data-share, and then now we should be able to run LS on our data-share. And now we see that we have our data in here. So, we have our Isilon support, we have project data, we have that home share data and that archive data – all mounted here.

So, this is a quick way just to set up an NFS export from a Linux machine to your Isilon cluster. Thanks for joining me for another Isilon Quick Tip.