[ntp:questions] Y2038 bug strikes early

Marc Brett marc at fordson.demon.co.uk
Tue Aug 1 10:40:42 UTC 2006


>From the latest RISKS Digest:


Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 13:38:25 -0700
From: Conrad Heiney <conrad at fringehead.org>
Subject: Y2038 bug strikes early

Starting on May 12, 2006, many installations of the AOLServer web server
failed. Not all versions or all configurations failed, but the ones that did
became unusable. On start, the server would eat virtual memory and then
terminate with a memory allocation error. Discussion on the mailing list
revealed the starting date of the problem, indicating that some part of the
software had a clock issue. On careful inspection it was discovered that
database threads were a common factor. It was then noted by a perceptive
person that the servers all failed on or before exactly one billion seconds
before the end of the Unix epoch in 2038. Many installations had very long
database timeouts, which caused the software to look ahead and see the End
of Time. Adjusting the timeouts stopped the crashes.

The risk of the known clock bug striking 32 years early indicates there may
be other "pre-problems" lurking in software that will show up long before
the date we have comfortably set as the deadline.

The thread discussing the problem and its resolution is here: 
http://www.mail-archive.com/aolserver@listserv.aol.com/msg09812.html




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