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Sun JRE plus new DST means work for IT

By Paul McNamara on Thu, 11/16/06 - 1:20pm.

With the timing of Daylight Saving Time slated to change next spring -- starts the second Sunday in March; ends the first Sunday in November -- IT professionals will be scrambling more than they normally do to keep the trains running on time when time becomes a moving target.

And, surprisingly enough, we can't lay these new demands at the feet of Microsoft, says Network World newsletter writer Dave Kearns, who instead points a digit squarely in the direction of Sun (oh, the irony of Sun messing up DST). While the issue has been public knowledge for some time, chatter about its consequences -- links to follow -- has been picking up in the wake of last month's final time transition under what are now the former rules. Writes Kearns:

"There will be patches for your server and desktop operating systems (and your laptops, palmtops and all the other Windows platforms) and the automated changes will continue to occur at the right time – provided you’ve patched your systems up to date by the beginning of March 2007."

OK, update patches, so what's the big deal? Kearns continues:

"Sun's Java Runtime Engine (JRE) has its own built-in time calculation, just like Windows. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in the JRE. There’s no easy way to create a simple patch that can be applied to any version of the JRE – you actually have to install a totally recompiled JRE that has the updated rules embedded in it. The good news is that Sun already has available new updates of the JRE which handle the U.S. DST change for versions of the JRE going back to 1.3.x. Wait for it, though, because there’s also bad news.

"Because of the way that Java apps are distributed, and because no vendor can be sure that you already have a compatible version of the JRE for their application, there are probably dozens of JREs, in different versions, scattered around your computers. That’s dozens on each of them, I might add. And every single one of them needs to be replaced. Better get started, you’ve only got four months!"

Sun's John O'Connor offers his insights on the Sun Developer Network Web site:

"Older JREs will have outdated rules that will be superseded by the Energy Policy Act of 2005," O'Connor writes, artfully placing the responsibility for the headache squarely where any vendor would believe it belongs, on government shoulders. "As a result, applications running on an older JRE may report incorrect time from March 11, 2007 through April 2, 2007 and from October 29, 2007 through November 4, 2007."

The article offers specifics on what fixes to apply.

More technical discussion about the issue can be found here on the Sun site.

IBM senior software engineer Guy Bowerman tackles the matter as it relates to a variety of products here; a good one for Informix DBAs, in particular.

Novell's Shon Vella weighs in here. "One thing I have not yet been to find any information on what is going on with other vendors versions of Java, such as the AIX JVM from IBM, or (I’m embarrassed to say) from NetWare JVM," he writes.

Blogger/Deal Architect founder/former Gartner analyst Vinnie Mirchandani reminds us that there's a great big world out there beyond the U.S. time zones.

And you thought all that Y2K nonsense was just a bad dream.