Linux Y2038 bug

Remember Y2K? Well for those that have not yet heard, Unix/Linux came ready packaged with a Y2038 bug. Don’t panic yet though, Y2K became virtually a non-event because there was a lot of pre-work done to prevent catastrophy and Y2038 should go a similar way. Y2038 is caused by the use of a 32bit integer to represent time and primarily affects 32bit systems and code written to use 32bit time integers.

64bit Operating Systems are considered safe from the Y2038 bug but software hosted on these systems may not be at this stage. The Linux kernel has already been released with patches for the Y2038 bug and software that used system values in calculating dates beyond 2038 will have already been coded with a 2038 workaround. Additionally 2038 is a very long way away in computing development terms and who knows what we will be using by then?

So, why the article? Do I need to worry about 2038 or not? If you are deploying systems that are system date dependent and will not be updated before 2038 but will still be in use then yes, you need to review your approach. The key lesson is to make sure that you keep your systems up to date on vendor supported platforms which will typically mean that you need to maintain that traditional 5 year refresh cycle in your plans for the foreseeable future.

If you would like assistance with system updates and upgrades, please contact us.

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