Bug#956436: systemd-timesyncd will remove virtualbox-guest-utils

Michael Biebl biebl at debian.org
Mon Apr 13 09:53:43 BST 2020

Control: clone -1 -2
Control: reassign -2 virtualbox-guest-utils
Control: found -2 6.1.4-dfsg-4
Control: retitle -2 Please decide whether to add C/R/P: time-daemon

Dear virtualbox maintainers,

recently, we split of timesyncd into a separate package named
systemd-timesyncd. This package no longer ships the old

Back in the day, we were asked in
to add VBoxService to the disable-with-time-daemon.conf hack, to make
sure systemd-timesyncd is not run when virtualbox-guest-utils is installed.

Since this hack is no more, we added a Conflicts: virtualbox-guest-utils
to systemd-timesyncd. This unfortunately can lead to
virtualbox-guest-utils being uninstalled on upgrades, which is not
desirable, so I plan to remove that Conflicts again.

That on the other hand means, it is now possible that both an NTP client
(not necessarily systemd-timesyncd) and virtualbox's time syncing are
active at the same time.

If this is not desirable, then please consider adding C/R/P: time-daemon
to virtualbox-guest-utils (or providing that via a separate binary
package which enables time syncing under VirtualBox), to make sure only
a single time syncing mechanism is active at a time.


Am 13.04.20 um 00:57 schrieb Balint Reczey:
> Hi Michael,
> On Sun, Apr 12, 2020 at 7:58 PM Michael Biebl <biebl at debian.org> wrote:
>> Am 12.04.20 um 19:40 schrieb Balint Reczey:
>>> Hi Michael,
>>> On Sat, Apr 11, 2020 at 9:53 PM Michael Biebl <biebl at debian.org> wrote:
>>>> Am 11.04.20 um 10:02 schrieb luca:
>>>>> Package: systemd-timesyncd
>>>>> Version: 245.4-3
>>>>> Severity: normal
>>>>> # apt-get -V dist-upgrade
>>>>> Reading package lists... Done
>>>>> Building dependency tree
>>>>> Reading state information... Done
>>>>> Calculating upgrade... Done
>>>>> The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
>>>>>    libnotify-bin (0.7.9-1)
>>>>>    libqpdf26 (9.1.1-1)
>>>>> Use 'apt autoremove' to remove them.
>>>>> The following packages will be REMOVED:
>>>>>    virtualbox-guest-utils (6.1.4-dfsg-4)
>>>>>    virtualbox-guest-x11 (6.1.4-dfsg-4)
>>>> Balint, I guess we should drop
>>>> Conflicts: virtualbox-guest-utils,
>>>>            virtualbox-guest-utils-hwe
>>>> ?
>>> Ah, yes, sorry, I did think about that, but forgot to propose the
>>> solution in the MR.
>>> IMO systemd-timesyncd should be the default time-daemon but also the
>>> least preferred option to install, when some other installed package
>>> can sync the time.
>>> I think the cleanest solution would be virtualbox source building a
>>> binary package that Conflicts/Provides/Replaces: time-daemon and sets
>>> up time synchronisation with the host (
>>> https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch09.html#changetimesync )
>> Nod, I think that package actually is virtualbox-guest-utils?
> Virtualbox-guest-utils ships other utils which could be useful even if
> time synchronization should be done by a proper time-daemon, so a new
> binary package could make sense, but virtualbox-guest-utils can indeed
> just that package as well.
>>> If this solution is not viable, then I think the second best option is
>>> considering virtualbox-guest-utils as a time-daemon alternative:
>>> AFAIK when virtualbox-guest-utils* is installed the guest's clock can
>>> be considered to be synchronised to the host and hopefully
>>> transitively to a reasonably good source, so I propose changing
>>> systemd instead to depend on systemd-timesyncd | time-daemon |
>>> virtualbox-guest-utils | virtualbox-guest-utils-hwe.  This solution
>>> has the disadvantage of not being able to install systemd-timesyncd
>>> when virtualbox-guest-utils is present, but should not sync time with
>>> the host. IMO this is not a huge problem, since other time-daemon-s
>>> can still be installed such as chrony, so the guest can still have
>>> accurate time, just not with systemd-timesyncd.
>> I would prefer not to add virtualbox-guest-utils* as an alternative
>> Depends.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Balint
>>> PS: virtualbox-guest-utils is in contrib, but per #681419 it can still
>>> be used as an alternate dependency.
>> I guess I'll drop the conflicts and clone/reassign this bug report to
>> virtualbox and leave it up to them to decide if it should be possible to
>> install an NTP client alongside virtualbox-guest-utils* or not (and if
>> the latter, to add a C/R/P: time-daemon)
> Thanks, that's fair.

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