The Linux Kernel Is Still Getting Ready For The Year 2038
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 27 October 2018 at 05:57 AM EDT. 15 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
In the past number of years have been a lot of changes in prepping the kernel for Year 2038, but that work still isn't over and with the in-development Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel are yet more time keeping changes for prepping for this Y2K-like event.

The Year 2038 problem refers to the issue of a signed 32-bit integer no longer being enough storage for representing the number of seconds passed since 1 January 1970, a.k.a. the Unix time representation. After 19 January 2038, Unix times stored as a signed 32-bit integer will wrap around as a negative number.

It's not as simple as just switching to say a 64-bit integer or a 32-bit unsigned integer everywhere since it can break binary compatibility with existing code when the data structure changes and cause adverse effects. Linux developers have been working on migrating to a 64-bit time_t data structure even on 32-bit systems, among other steps, but alas the Linux kernel is very large and complex and time is very important in a lot of areas from file-system to networking.

With this next Linux kernel cycle there is another large set of core code updates in prepping for the Year 2038 update. The latest Y2038 patches were sent in as part of the timekeeping updates for this next kernel.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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