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The Year 2038 Bug...

Heard Bout Y2K... ? Here Comes Y2038....
The year-2038 bug is similar to the Y2K bug in that it involves a time wrap not handled by programmers. In the case of Y2K, many older machines did not store the century digits of dates, hence the year 2000 and the year 1900 would appear the same.

Of course we now know that the prevalence of computers that would fail because of this error was greatly exaggerated by the media. Computer scientists were generally aware that most machines would continue operating as usual through the century turnover, with the worst result being an incorrect date. This prediction withstood through to the new millennium. Effected systems were tested and corrected in time, although the correction and verification of those systems was monumentally expensive.

There are however several other problems with date handling on machines in the world today. Some are less prevalent than others, but it is true that almost all computers suffer from one critical limitation. Most programs use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to work out their dates. Simply, UTC is the number of seconds elapsed since Jan 1 1970. A recent milestone was Sep 9 2001, where this value wrapped from 999'999'999 seconds to 1'000'000'000 seconds. Very few programs anywhere store time as a 9 digit number, and therefore this was not a problem.

Source: 2038 Bug
Other Sources:
This is for unix-like and unix operating systems. Thus Linux and OSX are two mainstream OSs that will be affected.

Other than affecting programs depending on time based things (spreadsheets etc), in C++ (and assuming other languages), when a person is trying to make random number they use the clock time as a seed value for the rand generator. In this case a rollover of the clock shouldn't effect these programs, except that you are starting to use repeated numbers.

Most of these distributions are moving to 64 bit kernels (which should solve the problem for a while) , linux has been moved to 64 bit, OS X has for PowerPC, although they have regressed OS X with the new Intel x86 processors which are 32bit.

Windows, Linux, and OSX are all ported to 64 bit which solves the problem, by 2038 only computers with 32 bit unix (ish) OS will have a problem... and when was the last time you heard of a computer running a 30 year old OS?
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