Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2023


Fixing Year 2038

Coordinating the 64-bit time_t ABI migration

The wrap of 32-bit time_t in Jan 2038 is only 15 years away. The people designing 32-bit linux products/systems still likely to be in use then have long product cycles so fixing this has become quite urgent. The base work has been done, but how to manage this ABI transition in distro-world needs some research, planning and co-ordination amongst distros. This session intends to get feedback on the problem and help inform a plan.

The fundamental choice is whether to treat it is a new arch/ABI/triplet or to migrate within the existing 32-bit arches/triplets to the new ABI. If different distros take different paths here we could end up in very confusing place. Updating ABIs has happened before so it is possible, but time_t appears in a lot of places and such a migration is certainly tricky. It may not be practical for some binary distros. Rebuilding from scratch is simpler but definitely requires a new GNU triplet.

Various people have looked into this over the last 3 years, but no one person has a good overview. Exactly how difficult this transition is still needs some experimentation and research. FOSDEM is a good opportunity to see where we are at, and see if we are agreed on a way forward.