Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Y2038 bug may hit Unix, Linux machines

Filed under
Linux

After the Millennium bug for which several billions of dollars were committed for research and updations in computer systems the world over, there is yet another bug on the horizon. It is the Year 2038 bug that is slated to hit computer users in that year.

To be precise, on Tuesday, January 19 03:14:07 2038, machines prone to this bug will alter calendars to go back to Friday, December 13 20:45:52 1901.

Computer programmers predict that this can result in incorrect and wildly inaccurate dates being reported by the operating system and applications. It is likely to cause serious problems on many platforms, especially Unix and Unix-like and Linux platforms, because these systems will "run out of time". They are reluctant to predict the extent of the damage.

What is special about this date? It is explained that Unix and similar operating systems do not calculate time based on the Gregorian calendar. Instead, they are known to simply count time in seconds from their arbitrary "birthday", that is, GMT 00:00:00, Thursday, January 1, 1970. The accepted practice among software programmers is to use a 32-bit variable for this number (32-bit signed time_t). The largest possible value for the end integer in this calculation is 2**31-1 = 2,147,483,647. So, 2,147,483,647 seconds after Unix's birthday falls on Tuesday, January 19, 2038. And one second later, theoretically Unix systems will revert to their birth date (like an odometer switching back from 999999 to 000000).

Experts are of the opinion that Linux users will be the hardest hit, because of the wider acceptance of this OS for its security and cost features. They are feared to grind to a virtual halt or go into a loop. This Linux's own Y2K nightmare can be more damaging than the Y2K bug, because the latter basically involved applications while the 2038 bug affects the time-keeping function itself.

Linux gurus are apprehensive about the bug's impact on the embedded field, where software does not get replaced frequently. As such, major telecom gadgets and equipment will be greatly affected. However, one ray of hope is that the 32-bit processing can be replaced thus overcoming the impact of the bug -- definitely before 2038.

But, the optimism must end there. The bug can have severe impact on records created today with calculations going beyond 2038, like insurance policies. There could be error messages splashing on Unix and Linux screens then. And Linux is getting to be the popular operating system these days.

Experts say one and sure-short way to overcome the problem is to switch over to 64-bit or longer time_t data storage. Some of the existing 32-bit codes can be changed and the programs recompiled. However, all these are not very easy tasks.

Source.

Gone

I'll be dead by then so I'm not worried.

me too

that's what I was thinking... or at least so old I won't care... Tongue

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Bang & Olufsen’s RPi add-on brings digital life to old speakers

B&O and HiFiBerry have launched an open source, DIY “Beocreate 4” add-on for the Raspberry Pi that turns vintage speakers into digitally amplified, wireless-enabled smart speakers with the help of a 180-Watt 4-channel amplifier, a DSP, and a DAC. Bang & Olufsen has collaborated with HiFiBerry to create the open source, $189 Beocreate 4 channel amplifier kit. The 180 x 140 x 30mm DSP/DAC/amplifier board pairs with your BYO Raspberry Pi 3 with a goal of upcycling vintage passive speakers. Read more

Gemini PDA will ship with Android, but it also supports Debian, Ubuntu, Sailfish, and Postmarket OS (crowdfunding, work in progress)

The makers of the Gemini PDA plan to begin shipping the first units of their handheld computer to their crowdfunding campaign backers any day now. And while the folks at Planet Computer have been calling the Gemini PDA a dual OS device (with Android and Linux support) from the get go, it turns out the first units will actually just ship with Android. Read more

Red Hat: CO.LAB, Kubernetes/OpenShift, Self-Serving 'Study' and More

Browsers: Mozilla and Iridium

  • Best Web Browser
    When the Firefox team released Quantum in November 2017, they boasted it was "over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago", and Linux Journal readers generally agreed, going as far as to name it their favorite web browser. A direct response to Google Chrome, Firefox Quantum also boasts decreased RAM usage and a more streamlined user interface.
  • Share Exactly What You See On-Screen With Firefox Screenshots
    A “screenshot” is created when you capture what’s on your computer screen, so you can save it as a reference, put it in a document, or send it as an image file for others to see exactly what you see.
  • What Happens when you Contribute, revisited
    I sat down to write a post about my students' experiences this term contributing to open source, and apparently I've written this before (and almost exactly a year ago to the day!) The thing about teaching is that it's cyclic, so you'll have to forgive me as I give a similar lecture here today. I'm teaching two classes on open source development right now, two sections in an introductory course, and another two in a follow-up intermediate course. The students are just starting to get some releases submitted, and I've been going through their blogs, pull requests, videos (apparently this generation likes making videos, which is something new for me), tweets, and the like. I learn a lot from my students, and I wanted to share some of what I'm seeing.
  • Iridium Browser: A Browser for the Privacy Conscience
    Iridium is a web browser based on Chromium project. It has been customized to not share your data and thus keeping your privacy intact.