After upgrading our F5’s a while back – probably to a BIG-IP 14.1 release, from looking at the release notes – our monitoring of their NTP status started failing. One of our staff poked at it and even opened a support case with F5, but couldn’t get it working, so it ended up on my list of things to look at.

Today, I finally spent a few minutes troubleshooting and found the problem and an easy fix. It appears that when they changed their licensing model for AFM, F5 changed the way firewall rules are used on the management interface.

By default, the following ports are permitted:

  • ssh (TCP/22)
  • https (TCP/443)
  • SNMP (TCP/UDP/161)
  • F5 HA (UDP/1026)
  • F5 iQuery (TCP/4353)

All other traffic, including NTP, to the management port, is dropped.

To fix this, we just add a entry in the management-ip-rules configuration.

security firewall management-ip-rules {
    rules {
        mgmt-ntp {
            action accept
            ip-protocol udp
            rule-number 1
            destination {
                ports {
                    123 { }

In the web UI, this is configured under “System” > “Platform” > “Security”.

Via tmsh, use modify /security firewall management-ip-rules ....

Interestingly, while researching this topic I found a knowledge base article that indicates that the /sys ntp section has an include directive that allows you to essentially put anything you want in the /etc/ntp.conf file. I haven’t needed this, but it looks to be a great configuration “escape hatch” if you need features/knobs that are not exposed by tmsh or the web UI.