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SubjectRe: [ntpwg] Bug: Status/Summary of slashdot leap-second crash on new years 2008-2009
Linas Vepstas wrote:
> [...]
>>> a discussion of a particular issue
>>> that would arise if the kernel were to keep TAI -- if it did,
>>> then user-space systems would need to have a reliable
>>> source for leap-seconds. Since NTP does not
>>> provide this, there was discussion about how that
>>> could be worked-around. This then lead to the comment
>>> that, "gee, wouldn't the right long-term solution be that
>>> NTP provide TAI info?"
>> NTP can provide leap-second information via an autokey protocol request,
>> see Section 10.6 Leapseconds Values Message (LEAP)
>> but
> Yes, that look like exactly what would be wanted. It would be nice
> if such a message was available in the regular, non-encrypted protocol.

It's not encrypted, it's an authentication protocol. You really do need
to know that you are receiving a reliable set of information otherwise
anyone can spoof you with bad data and play havoc with your clock and

>> that means you need to have autokey set up with another NTP server and
>> that means adding infrastructure that you probably don't want and are
>> not prepared to handle.
> Heh. Yes, well, I still haven't figured out how to secure DNS. Yet clearly
> this whole security mess must march on, and somehow the security
> infrastructure must eventually become easy to install.
<DNS hat>
That's pretty easy. Install BIND 9.6.0. Read the DNSSEC deployment
instructions here: and
implement. You should be done in almost no time.
</DNS hat>

>>> Clearly, it would be a lot of work to get the kernel to keep
>>> TAI instead of UTC, so this is not, at this time, a "serious
>>> proposal". But if it were possible, and all the various
>>> little issues that result were solvable, then it does seem
>>> like a better long-term solution.
>> This is a *lot* more complicated than you might think. If you are
>> thinking of implementing this similarly to the way timezone information
>> is added for display purposes, you need the whole list of leap seconds
>> and when the change happened since you now have to look at a timestamp
>> and see when it was and then apply all of the leapseconds up to that
>> point in time and none of the leapseconds beyond that. In addition, you
>> have legacy files that have UTC timestamps on them so you would need to
>> distinguish between UTC (legacy) and TAI timestamps in the file system
>> among other places (anywhere where a timestamp exists) and what would
>> you do about database tables which contain timestamps? The list goes on.
> Yes.
>> I'd much rather you spend the time tackling the clock interrupt losses
>> that many of our Linux users complain about. See:
>> for some of the gorier details. I'm sure you don't really want us
>> recommending that they set HZ=100 in the kernel to alleviate the problem.
> Actually, this is rather sorely lacking in 'gory details', rather, its
> a complaint
> that 'things don't work' with no discussion of the actual problem. It would
> be much better if there was a link to any previous discussions on LKML on
> this issue.

Sorry, but that's not my area of expertise. I just know we have many
people running Linux and have these issues.

> My knee-jerk reaction on reading about the lost-interrupts issue is that,
> yes, setting HZ=100 and disabling ACPI is indeed a decent short-term
> work-around (APIC is something completely different and not something
> you can disable). The correct long-term solution would be to use real-time
> kernels, which are designed to make sure that things like lost interrupts
> never happen.

I bow to your superior knowledge in this area.


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