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Debian and the millenium bug

Since there seems to be widespread panic about the "millenium bug",
I thought it might be appropriate to tell you about how your Debian
system might be effected.

Unix and Linux do not store 2-digit dates, although it is possible for
an application to do so. They store dates as a count of seconds since
New Year's Day 1970. This counter will overflow about 38 years from now,
in early 2036, _not_ 2000.

The few Debian applications that stored 2-digit dates have already been
repaired, and Debian systems have passed testing with their dates set
at 2000 and greater. There is one area in which Debian 1.3 is effected
but our upcoming 2.0 release will not be. Your PC's BIOS may only allow
you to set the PC's clock chip to a 2-digit date. This is a bug in your
PC's BIOS ROM, but we will provide a work-around in Debian so that you
don't have to buy a new motherboard. If you expect to run your 1.3 system
through the millenium, you can get a copy of the "hwclock" program from
2.0 and replace the "clock" program presently on your system.

Before 2036 we must define "time_t", to be a 64-bit variable instead of
a 32-bit one, and recompile all programs. This is a very simple process
compared to the anguish the non-Unix world is going through - we go
through more work to produce a major release of Debian. Once time_t is
a 64 bit variable, it's good for another 4000 years. By then, there may
be something better than Debian :-)


	Bruce Perens

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