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Year 2000

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What about the year 2038?

There has been increasing discussion in the media about the year 2038. In 2038 the date field used in some C code can overflow. This date overflow can adversely affect any applications or operating systems that are dependent on C code.

Why the overflow? The C language time-base typically stores the number of seconds since midnight January 1, 1970, in a 32-bit integer field. Applications that treat the field as an unsigned value will operate past 2038. However, in C applications that manipulate or store this time-base field as a signed value, the field will overflow on January 19, 2038. Code that manipulates  time_t  values can potentially encounter this limit even sooner.

A date-related overflow has the potential for adverse effects as varied as those caused by the year 2000 problem. The overflow can occur on any platforms or applications that are directly or indirectly dependent on C code.

The scope of the 2038 problem is extremely limited for OpenVMS because very little C code is used in the OpenVMS operating system. A few areas of OpenVMS are written in C and OpenVMS Engineering is investigating reports of a 2038 issue with the OpenVMS Security Server. However, generally speaking, the OpenVMS operating system has been designed to function properly through the year 9999.

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