UNIX Approaches its One Billion Second Milestone

09/09/00: For immediate release

In the first year of the new millenium, UNIX will flex its muscles and prove its superiority once again. In just under one year from today UNIX will be one billion seconds old. That's right, the big One-E-Nine.

The UNIX epoch dates from January 1st, 1970. Every UNIX system in the world worth its salt keeps track of time by counting every single second since the midnight just before that auspicious date. And soon, they're all going to hit a billion. That's a thousand million, a thousand thousand thousand. Tens of tens of tens of tens of... Lots and lots.

Electromagnetic Networks is pleased to present the Countdown to One Billion. Freely available for all to see is a counter, updated every second, clearly showing exactly how long you have before you ought to go find a UNIX box and pat it fondly on the corner for being such a beast as to have gotten to a billion.

We told some systems staff about this upcoming milestone, and asked them a simple question. "How are UNIX administrators celebrating this date?" After interviewing quite a few admins, and asking them how they were going to spend September 8th, 2001, we got a wide range of answers. One admin had purchased a large sign reading "Happy 1 Billion!" to hang in the machine room, but was disheartened when he realized that none of his systems were equipped with digital cameras, so they wouldn't be able to read the sign. Another has set up cron jobs to start playing MP3s of "Happy Birthday" on the boxes with the processor power to handle it, while the other machines beep to the tempo through their speakers.

One admin did some quick mental math, and said, "9:46 PM and some seconds? I'll be at home, away from work, watching a nice movie or something." She then dissolved into laughter. Once she was capable of speech again, she added, "I'll be at the office, beating the servers into not falling over, as usual. What do you think?"

Even non-administrators are getting into the spirit of the occasion. Universities nation- and world-wide will have just reopened their doors, after adding massive quantities of data on new students to their UNIX systems, and students will be hitting the bars to recover after the first week of classes. And also to celebrate the billionth second. In fact, a significant percentage of the world will be celebrating the billionth second. After all, it's going to be on a Saturday that this event takes place, so it'll be a party night. You can count on that.

Unfortunately, none of the other sysads we contacted dignified our requests with a response. The overall consensus seems to be that for a workhorse like UNIX, one billion seconds may be an impressive amount of time to have existed, but there's no reason it should be different than any other day - UNIX clocks are not expected to suffer from an S1G problem, and so this September shall be business as usual for servers worldwide.


Other operating systems are not expected to reach this venerable age within the near future; for example, no version of Windows nor its ancestor, DOS, will turn one billion for more than a decade.

UNIX will reach two billion on May 17th, 2033, at 11:33:20 PM, GMT.


Comments on this Document
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How sad ...
by r (richard.j.turnier@lmco.com) on 04/23/2001 at 14:05 (#1)
... that this has been posted since 09/09/00
and no one has had anything to say about it --
Burnt out by all the Y2K hooplah and don't want
to even think about it?
Admins, beware -- try to be on vacation, far
away and not reachable when this rolls over!

Its my Birthday!
by Surreal fOul (oluf@oluf.co.uk) on 04/30/2001 at 10:06 (#2)
I only just found out about this, but this clock is counting down to my 32nd Birthday!

Do I get a prize?
:-)

Birthdays and S1G
by Pasta Man () on 04/30/2001 at 17:56 (#3)
If you are in the area of a unix.party or net.party, we suggest that you go to one of these - doubtless the local geeks will be happy to ply you with beverages and sing silly songs. Otherwise, we would suggest ordering one of our fine products in the Electromagnetic Store. Um, as soon as it is online. Anyway, happy birthday!

hang on a second
by spit petunia () on 05/31/2001 at 06:12 (#4)
ok, unix maybe american, but you clearly don't understand that unix is due to be 1 thousand million years old, not one billion. 1e9 has only been made into '1 billion' based on americans who can't count zeros. and look at the twat that leads them! a big zero!

1e9
by loser () on 06/26/2001 at 14:50 (#5)
Spit Petunia, I know that a British billion is an American trillion, but I didn't know an American second is a British year ;)

1e9 + n....
by bulldog () on 07/11/2001 at 05:20 (#6)
But Loser, we all know that everything's bigger in Yanksville, so isn't it a Zillion?... 8-)

get it right
by ChE nerd () on 08/30/2001 at 19:53 (#7)
Clearly, the true S1G is not at the 1 billion second mark, but rather the 2^31 second mark (when was the last time computers cared about base10). This is scheduled to happen on Jan 10, 2004 at 08:37:04.

On a more serious note, some UNIX boxes are not S2G compliant. They will go from 2038 to 1902 because they represent the Epoch seconds as a 4 byte (signed) integer. Even machines that are S2G compliant are not Y2G compliant (again 4-byte integers). Obviously, this is a good reason to have massive hysteria (since this will clearly signal the end of the world), which might as well begin now.

dc.sage Countdown to 1 Billion Party
by Rob Jenson (http://www.spotch.com/cgi-bin/mail?robjen) on 09/02/2001 at 13:45 (#8)
At the encouragement of this web site, and because we just like a good excuse to have a silly party, dc.sage will be
celebrating the 1 Billionth Second since the UNIX Epoch. If there are others in the Washington DC area who would like to join us, details and directions are at:


http://www.dc-sage.org/SIG-beer/one_billion.shtml


( http://www.dc-sage.org/SIG-beer/one_billion.shtml )

SigFest
by Rasputin () on 09/04/2001 at 08:30 (#9)
I think taverns should honour this momentous occasion with "SigFest", akin to the German "Oktoberfest"....

steady-state UNIXverse
by jiri (jw@igpp.de) on 09/07/2001 at 03:32 (#10)
It's amazing that there's not much more buzz around it.
(What if Microsoft were able to achieve anathing like this?
We'd experience debilitating celebrations, whistles & bells
& fireworks & speeches & lots of hype!) In our lab, we
realised the anniversary coming quite serendipitously,
running a simulation program with random() seeded by time()
return value, and noticed the leading 9...

While most of the World's software production follows the
Big-Bang scenario---from a dense hot initial state, thru
a phase of inflationary expansion, towards quite a boring
homogeneous dissipation---, the UNIXverse seems to be
driven by the Steady-State Cosmology---which implies
a remarkable stability and uniformity as well as continuous
creation. This has been, in my eyes, the key factor
in this 1 Billion success story. I'm happy to see the
UNIXverse thriving and continuing its solid, stable state
of being. Given my age and excessive smoking, it is
unlikely that I will witness the next billion rounding up
---but if I happen to do so, I'm sure UNIX will be with us,
the solid firmament beyond ephemeral events in the sublunar
sphere.

But---have we got the anniversary date right? Why to
celebrate 1e9 seconds? just primitive decadic habits?
Why not celebrate rather the first gigasecond (0x40000000) elapsed?

My very best wishes to all inhabitants of the UNIXverse!

javascript countdown
by valmont () on 09/07/2001 at 14:39 (#11)

u can countdown using your computer clock, your browser, and javascript and pasting the following in your browser's URL bar:

javascript:var onebil=new Date(1000000000000);var now=new Date();var secsleft=(onebil.getTime()-now.getTime())/1000;alert(secsleft/(60*24) + ' hours left until 1 billion seconds')


(all in one line).

then again ...
by valmont () on 09/07/2001 at 14:40 (#12)
it won't work as well as some authoritative source.

Haha!
by All your base () on 09/07/2001 at 19:59 (#13)
All your unix timestamps are belong to me.

Just wait ...
by GoZo (gozo@mailandnews.com) on 09/07/2001 at 22:29 (#14)
Great. Just another 1,147,483,648 seconds and all those counters our there that treat it as a signed value go negative and the $%*! really hits the fan. This is otherwise known as the 2038 bug.

Y2.038K problem...
by kaslanu () on 09/08/2001 at 00:27 (#15)
I don't know why people aren't worried about the Y2.038K problem with Unix (on 32 bit int computers)...
Great, Unix hit 1B, but will croak at 4B (4294967296)...

2038
by Jm4n () on 09/08/2001 at 05:33 (#16)
I see a lot of posts regarding the 2038 issue. The thing is, considering 64 bit systems are a reality today, and that's more than 36 years away, I seriously doubt it will be an issue. Most Unix systems had no problem at all with Y2K, and likewise 2038 won't be an issue.

Unless you use some kind of scheduler program and plan very, very far ahead...

Sad Sad Sad Sad
by Unix == Shite OS (billgates@microsoft.com) on 09/08/2001 at 08:16 (#17)
Like a crap OS it sits unsupported, not even mainstream. Its an OS that will never have the popularity of any MS product, it is and always will be the realm of the geek. 1 billion seconds, maybe you should go outside and get on with life.

Re: Sad sad sad sad
by hobbes (hobbes@techsuperpowers.com) on 09/08/2001 at 14:34 (#18)
Hey there, billy, wait until OS X comes around and kicks your silly MS OS's a**.

Serious problems with S1G
by lakata () on 09/08/2001 at 17:36 (#19)
There is cause for concern. The biggest problem are programs that save the time stamp as text and then sort it, using an alphabetical sort (i.e. unix "sort" or perl "sort"). An alphabetical sort is the same as a numerical sort if the there is a fixed number of digits. But alphabetically, 1000000000 comes BEFORE 999999999.

I am sure there are lots of perl scripts or unix scripts that are sorting using alphebetical sort order, because
(a) that is the default and (b) it has worked fine for the last 27 years and no one has caught the error!

Numerical sorts in unix sort require the '-n' flag.
In perl, you need to specify a sort criteria, with the "darth vader ship" operator, <=>, e.g.
sort { $a <=> $b} @time. If you just do "sort @time", your script will break! In about 4 hours!


Where From?
by Freebytes of Sector (freebytes@hotmail.com) on 09/08/2001 at 18:25 (#20)
So, how did all of you people find this article anyway? [Curious] You seem to have visited near the same time. Would it happen to be BBSpot.com by any chance?

1 hour to go!
by Speed (speed@p.ulh.as) on 09/08/2001 at 21:06 (#21)
great site! i was browsing google looking for some online party when i found it!
well, 1 hour to go, i'm drowning myself in coke!

happy
by aerroer () on 09/08/2001 at 21:34 (#22)
sooon 1 biljon is coming!
this is something I cellibrate!
it will be 32 yesr to 2 biljon så this is history

happy
by aerroer () on 09/08/2001 at 21:34 (#23)
sooon 1 biljon is coming!
this is something I cellibrate!
it will be 32 yesr to 2 biljon så this is history
12 min left

so are we still here?
by lakata () on 09/08/2001 at 21:47 (#24)
It's after 1e9 seconds!

No!!!!!
by No! (bgates@microsoft.com) on 09/09/2001 at 17:53 (#25)
I sneezed and consequently wet my pants and missed the 1 billion seconds. :(

non-S1G comliant appl
by rb () on 09/10/2001 at 09:45 (#26)
Our job scheduling software (I'll omit the name since there's a likelihood of legal action due the damage inflicted on us by the application) was not S1G compliant and has screwed us over BIG TIME. They didn't have a fix available to their customer base till 3:00 EDT 9/10/01. In the mean time we scrambled as best we could to schedule our workload manually. But if we could manually orchestrate a daily batch workload across a network of servers in mutiple locations, we wouldn't need an automated job scheduler would we. Therefore, we now have a minor disaster on our hands. This has turned out to be no laughing matter and certainly nothing to party about. The application vendor is trying to shift the blame to the UNIX O/S, stating "It relates to a little known issue in dealing with the UNIX clock, whereby when the billionth second mark (as counted from the start of the UNIX clock) is reached, the time calculations are incorrect." Rubbish -- the blame lies squarely on their shoulders for failing to write code that handled a time value of that magnitude. I expect their defense will be that they never claimed to have an S1G compliant application. Let the litigation begin.

What Y2K problem?
by Eriamjh (eriamjh@usa.com) on 09/14/2001 at 18:19 (#27)
I'm sorry, but what was the problem? So what if UNIX is 1 billion seconds old? I'm sure a patch will be issued by then.

Ummm... no issue.
by Freebytes of Sector () on 03/09/2002 at 01:09 (#28)
This was not a countdown for a bug or anything. It was just a countdown for 1 billion seconds since the creation of one of the best operating systems in existence.

Even More Pathetic
by PAthetic () on 10/04/2005 at 17:31 (#29)
More pathetic that noone has posted since april 2003, what is the date today? October 4 TWO THOUSAND FIVE??!!??!!!?


simple pathetic... >:O

next billenium
by ed () on 02/18/2007 at 09:35 (#51)
i saw on /. about the rollover, y2k38 bug. if we move to 64bit time_t we can have another billenium in 63 years.<br />

oh code is at www.s5h.net/code/b.c.<br />

Oops
by Brandon (merec@AAeE.org) on 07/20/2007 at 12:51 (#54)
Seems I entered my geekdom too late and missed it. Ah well. I'll be there when the 2k38 'problem' happens....it'll be fixed before serious issue, be we still see problems of it happening now.

AOL had issues at one point. When making sure the cookie lasted 'forever' it counted up such a high number, that it passed 2k38...causing a date comparison to see that the cookie was OLD. No one could use certain AOL software (thats a good thing).

:P

hows JS work on this here <b style='background-color:red' onmouseover='alert(document.dateLastModified);'>thing</b>

decade
by creuks () on 03/24/2011 at 01:10 (#55)
it's almost been a decade. why hasn't anyone posted since?

Time marched on
by dp () on 02/02/2012 at 10:26 (#58)
I realize it is only 1328196305 but is anyone working on the 2038 problem?

1234567890
by autcatnip () on 03/29/2012 at 12:34 (#59)
I remember watching the timestamp become 1234567890. That was around 3 years ago... :o)
Too bad I was a stupid 5 year old when 1000000000 came around.

Also, the British long scale is silly.
"Large" numbers are based on thousands, not millions.

Time flies ...
by George Tiny () on 07/11/2012 at 22:14 (#60)
More than 10 years since the billenium. I'm no longer
young. Y2k38: I'll be old.

Dated: 1342059210.640775

Dave

Total Comments: 35

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