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Year 2038

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Year 2038
Why 2038?

Our legacy 32-bit root servers used the FreeBSD operating system. As with all Unix and Unix-like operating systems, time and dates in FreeBSD are represented internally as the number of seconds since the UNIX Epoch, which was the 1st of January 1970 GMT.

32-bit systems can only store a maximum of 231 non-negative seconds (2,147,483,648 seconds or about 68 years). Which means that 32-bit UNIX systems won't be able to process time beyond 19 Jan 2038 at 3:14:07 AM GMT.

All of our Unix product offerings use 64-bit architecture systems that can store a maximium of 263 non-negative seconds (9,223,372,036,854,775,808 [9.2 Quintillion] seconds or about 292.27 Billion years), which is about 22 times the estimated age of our universe!

For the curious: A switch to 128-bit architecture systems would yield a maximum of 2127 non-negative seconds (170,141,183,460,469,231,731,687,303,715,884,105,728 [170 Undecillion] seconds), or about 18.4 Quintillion times as many as 64-bit systems.

For the really curious: A switch to 256-bit architecture systems would yield a maximum of 2255 non-negative seconds (57,896,044,618,658,097,711,785,492,504,343,953,926,634,992,332,820,282,019,728,792,003,956,564,819,968 [57 Quattuorvigintillion] seconds), or about 340 Undecillion times as many as 128-bit systems.

* For informational purposes only

As of Tue Mar 20 23:35:06 GMT 2018 there are currently:

  • 1,521,588,906 seconds since the UNIX epoch.
  • 19 years, 9 months, and 29 days until 19 Jan 2038.

To give an indication if a Unix machine is 2038 Compliant, one can run this perl script to see if the time is incremented correctly.


use POSIX;
$ENV{'TZ'} = "GMT";

for ($clock = 2147483641; $clock < 2147483651; $clock++) {
        print ctime($clock);


Please keep in mind that the above only represents most UNIX operating systems; others may have their own date problems.

You can use this interface to view any yearly calendar from 1-9999.