[LEAPSECS] Unix Questions

Paul Sheer p at 2038bug.com
Fri Aug 6 13:50:13 EDT 2010

Hello there,

Thank you very much for hosting this list.

Sorry if any of these questions have been asked before.

With reference to


I noticed this intriging text which I wanted to ask about:

[...] if we really introduced a uniform (leap-free)
time scale, it should be _really_ uniform, and not
just pile up the problem into a larger one for
future generations. In her reply, the BIPM speaker
agreed fully and admitted that the leap-hour
proposal was more meant as a political trick to
move completely to a uniform leap-free time scale,
and that she herself did not consider planning what
mankind should do in 600 years from now practical.

Can someone comment on this w.r.t. the protests about
"Big-Ben time" eventually diverging from "sun-dial time"?

Ie. is the ITU seriously considering such a divergence?

Patrick Wallace (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory,
UK) suggested in his presentation that we should go
back to a 1960s style UTC that tracks UT1 more
closely and smoothly, an option that Dennis
McCarthy nicknamed UT1C in his overview of the
available options.

Is UT1C still one of the options?

As a Unix developer I spend a lot of time fiddling
with timestamps - I work with GSM/SS7 messaging which uses
Unix 32-bit timestamps as an SMS text message identifier:

I would strongly prefer that Unix Time match UT1 identically.
Of course this means that NTP services broadcast UT1
instead of UTC and deprecate the leap second bit - which
should work smoothly if they switch over on a day when
UTC and UT1 exactly match - which happens every few years.

Are there any plans in this direction?

Is there any summary of the current proposals of the ITU
and it's relation to and effect on Unix Time?

Where can I find the definitive documents that the ITU
is currently considering?

When the ITU talks about changing UTC, what is their
intention with respect to NTP services world-wide on
which Unix Systems depend?

Kind regards


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