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Linux's Creator Wants Us All to Chill Out About the Leap Second

Linux s Creator Wants Us All to Chill Out About the Leap Second WIRED


WIRED: Maybe I’m naive, but it seems like maybe we’d be better off if we’d just left UTC to the humans and allowed the machines to roam free in the land of atomic time?

Torvalds: Well, most of the time, even the machines don’t actually care aboutthat land of atomic time. Most of the time they care about time because people care about time – because they are tracking your mortgage payments, for example. So you can’t really separate the two.

So you’d have to teach people to not care about the correlation of time to the sun, or the correlation of dates to the seasons. That doesn’t sound very realistic.

The people and computers who really care about “atomic” time tend to be astronomers. For the rest of us – both people and computers – we’re probably better off taking the POSIX approach to it, and just say “who cares”, with a few unlucky people worrying about bugs happening because of the perversities of timekeeping.

Really, to the rest of us, just take the leap second as an excuse to have a small nonsensical party for your closest friends.

Wear silly hats, get a banner printed that says “Leap Second Doomsday Party”, and get silly drunk. You’ll blink, and it’s over, but at least you’ll have the hangover next day to remind you of that glorious but fleeting extra second.

And that’s exactly how relevant it should be to most people.

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To his point, not a whole lot happens in a second. 

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