Is UNIX y2k OK without a fix? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I work at a company that uses a UNIX OS. That is all I know about it, and questions about which one would be frowned on at my company. Information about anything seems to be on a need to know basis. I am the only one of 20 people there who "gets it" about potential Y2K problems. Last year,after he ridiculed me mercilessly, my boss finally called the regular computer guy we use to check out our computer for Y2K. He installed a compliant program, but said that UNIX didnt have Y2K problems and hardware problems were just in the "big iron" not our PC's He didn't believe me when I said I had heard embedded chips could be a problem. We have this big banner boasting "Y2K Ready!" now. But, ARE WE? My still sceptical boss (and co-workers) think I'm nuts to prepare. They don't seem to understand its not the odds, it is what is at stake if they are wrong. I am forbidden to talk about it now, but I still covertly do, because I care what happens to them. I also recommended we stock up a little on the essential materials we needed to continue operating should disruptions in our supplies appear, but was asked if I wanted a paycheck or excess stock. I have digressed, sorry, what I really wanted to know is IS UNIX Compliant without ANY remediation?

-- Ann Fisher (, August 29, 1999


A timestamp obtained from the Unix OS will have century information, so in that sense, yes. But the standard C time routines used by almost all programs in Unix return the year-1900. A common bug is to treat that as if it's really the last two digits of the year. This leads to various subtle date formatting problems when a program gets 100 back from the time routine, not 00 as it expects.

And of course, any application program can mess up dates on input. For example, typing 1/1/00 for user input might be converted to the real date by doing year+1900, yielding 1900 in that case. Thus your application might run fine, but refuse to create entries with the correct date after the new year. This would make the application useless, even though the OS is compliant.

And Unix does have another interesting little problem, in common with Windows and DOS. A time and date is kept internally as the number of seconds since Jan 1, 1970. So if the user interface generates 1900 by mistake, it cannot be represented as a date internally (it would be a negative number of seconds). So the application may reject it for that reason, or even crash, if the programmer did not realize that a properly formatted date can still be invalid.

Finally, it's just silly not to worry about your suppliers or customers. If your raw materials aren't perishable, and you have the storage space, over ordering this year seems like very cheap insurance.

Whatever your coworkers are saying, you should continue to work on your own personal preparations.

-- Michael Goodfellow (, August 29, 1999.

Check Chris Torek's writings in c.s.y2k. Chris works on BSD at BSD and has been looking into the Unix issue for a couple years.

When he started his investigations, Chris was solidly in the no or minimal problems camp, a mild polly.

Lately he has softened his stance. He has found some problems in system utilities and I'd characterize him as an aware realist.

As in all these things, the real problems are in the applications.

Ann, at this point, there isn't much that anyone can do for the large complex applications. If it has a problem, it will very likely fail.

I understand you're concerned about your company and co-workers. Good for you.

However, you might consider watching out for yourself. You've raised the issue, told them more than once. Now it's time for you to take care of yourself. I'll be discussing this in future WRPs. (I'm also looking for others who have come to the realization that they need to pull in some, take preventive measures, to write a couple articles for the WRPs.)

-- cory (, August 30, 1999.

Unix operating system? Generally Y2K OK (although has problems in 2037, or around then).

Unix applications? Completely dependant on how the application was written.

-- Anonymous99 (, August 30, 1999.


Yes, most UNIX is suseptible to Y2K failures. Here are some web sites from popular UNIX OS vendors.;$sessionid$B2MFAJYAAVQSBAMUVFZE4GQ

And non-vendors:

What version of UNIX do you use?

keep your..

-- eyes_open (, August 30, 1999.

To be blunt, ignore (politely) your co-workers, you tried to talk to them, and they have decided not to learn. Fine, their decision.

Your boss is different, because he is deciding "how" to manage resources (your job) and wha things to repair, and what/how to plan for first quarter next year. This threatens you two ways: if you persist when he adamently refuses to "want to listen", then he is more likely to get irritated (or worse) and you get fired before next year.

Two, recognize your boss himself reports to a "higher boss" - who may or may not be more responsive, or who may or may not be more "teachable", or who MAY have already told your immediate boss "Shut up and don't talk to me about this y2k thing again....nothing is going to happen and I refuse to spend any money on it....."

So, avoid trouble and ask him. "Do you you want any more information on this potential problem, or do you want me to report on any potential problems for us from overseas failures or potetnial vender problems first quarter next year?"

Couple of reasons: If the troubles are from "overseas" you are removing the immediate threat to "him" - and so his decision is no longer based on fear, but on somebody else's failure. (That's easier for most people to deal with.)

Second, you are putting him in a position to decide wha tinformation to recieve, and so what infomration he passes "upstairs": that gives him back the power he wants as a boss. It could give him a lever to push information upstairs too, if he senses resistance from his supervisors.

It gives him a simple "cover his ass" (using your time and effort) to prevent failure (from others) while preventing trouble in his own department - he's got to realize its his job on the line too if venders or overseas markets or overseas companies face loss of power, water, government services (no forms = no approval = no import/no export/no pay taxes/ no pay custom fees/ get custom inspections/ .....

Finally, if he persists, or directly tells you he's not interested, aknowledge that, accept it (and follow his rules about not mixing y2k and the workplace), and then hold on to your hat. If you feel strongly about your position, and the company's is legitimately threatened with massive loss of customers or market in a recession, change jobs.

For example, if there is recession coming, swimming pool sales will be down, but grocercy stores and hardware stores may need more people....

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, August 30, 1999.


Q. what I really wanted to know is IS UNIX Compliant without ANY remediation?

A. I would have to respond a resolute NO to that. Visit the SCO web site and it is crawling with patched and withdrawn (non- compliant) product.

I was fairly shocked at thsi, as most of the Unix gurus' I know were all happy clappy up to 2023 ....

Certainly, Xenix is dead in the water ....

If you are not runnig SCO go visit the sites listed above. I am NOT a Unix guru, so I cannot really comment further.

BTW, A good friend of mine found a Y2K bug in an implimentation of TCP/IP. The manufacturer has released a patch for it across ALL platforms. The version he was working with was for the PC platform. We are not talking MS here,....

-- Rob Somerville (, August 30, 1999.

We had to upgrade our Sun Solaris to version 2.7 in order to be Y2k compliant. If you can log on to UNIX, do the ver command, that will tell you what version of the OS you currently have installed.

-- Amy Leone (, August 31, 1999.

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