This article (link dead, sorry) says Y2038 bug "may hit Unix, Linux machines"
Sheesh, you think so? No, it's not "may": if current Unix and Linux OSes are still running in 2038, yes, they WILL overflow their time counters. And so will any Windows box still using 32 bit time, so I have to wonder why this article singles out Unix. Never mind that: apparently all Windows machines will be 64 bit by then but all Unix boxes won't. That's the price we pay for reliability, folks.
Two immediate thoughts come to mind: how many computers (Unix or otherwise) will still be running 32 bit OSes thirty three years from now? OK, as that article suggests, you might have some embedded systems kicking around. I doubt it (how many embedded systems from the 70's are still running now?), but it could happen. Ask a more realistic question: how many of those use date calculations for anything where the owners wouldn't be aware that they did?
Some applications apparently don't care a bit about the current date. Something might just be monitoring inputs from some source and deciding when to trigger some event. There might not be any obvious use of time. But, the system may still calculate elapsed time, and that could cause a glitch or even a crash when the counter overflows. Those are probably pretty rare and very specialized. Most embedded systems very obviously use dates and times: usually tracking elapsed time is part of the systems very reason for being. We're billing customers here for usage, making logs with time stamps, or whatever: it usually wouldn't take any real brain power to see that a black box system must be doing time calculations. Those systems will be replaced, because the people using them will know darn well that they need to. They'll probably be replaced before that for other reasons anyway.
I'll be ninety years old in 2038. I doubt I'll care much about anything to do with computers by then; I also seriously doubt that this awful Unix 2038 bug is going to cause anyone else to lose any sleep. Or any data.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2011-04-28 Tony Lawrence
Dump may work fine for you a thousand times. But it _will_ fail under the right circumstances. And there is nothing you can do about it. (Linus Torvalds)