[ntp:questions] A Suggestion For Abolishing the Leap Second

Rob van der Putten rob at sput.nl
Tue Jun 5 16:21:23 UTC 2007

Hi there

Wolfgang S. Rupprecht wrote:

> I'm a firm believer in simplifying the low-level protocols.  The
> simpler they are the less likely that someone will screw them up.
> This goes doubly for stuff that one only gets to test once every 1.5
> years. (Personally, I wouldn't mind at all if ntp got out of the leap
> seconds business and just distributed GPS time or something else with
> with a consistently incrementing time scale.  Make the leap seconds
> the responsibility of some user-level code just like DST is now.)

Whenever politicians decide to change the date on which summer time 
starts or ends, new timezone files are distributed and installed. So the 
infrastructure to deal with changes in the relationship between 
international and local time is already there.

And if the OS already deals with translation from and to local time, why 
can't it deal with leap seconds in a similar manner. It already adds a 
number of seconds to the international time anyway.
Having a fixed second length really is the cleanest way of doing things.

Most applications generate timestamps, ids and filenames using some sort 
of epoch anyway, so they don't really care about 'classic' date and 
time. Just the number of seconds since some point in time will do.

And one could run ntp on two different ports. One with and one without 
leap seconds to accommodate a gradual transition from one system to the 

Nothing is more surreal then reality

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