'Leap second' snafu affects Oracle clusterware

The 'leap second' has resulted in potential snafus for users of Oracle's CRS clusterware.

The additional second that time-tracking scientists added to 2008 to adjust for the slowing of the earth's rotation is causing problems with Oracle's Cluster Ready Services (CRS) clusterware, but a pair of fixes are available, said an Oracle document dated Monday.

CRS is used in conjunction with Oracle's Real Application Clusters software, which allows one Oracle database to be deployed on a group of servers or "nodes," providing fault tolerance and scalability.

The "leap second event" is causing CRS nodes to reboot, according to an Oracle document detailing the problem. Among the affected platforms are Oracle Server Enterprise Edition Version 10.1.0.2 to 11.1.0.7; Sun Solaris SPARC (64-bit); and Oracle CRS and patchsets 10.2.0.1 to 11.1.0.7.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the world's standard for time. UTC is "regularly adjusted by introducing a leap second based on the accumulated difference between the atomic clock time (TAI) and UT1, the time reflecting the Earth's rotational speed," Oracle said.

Leap seconds are handled by the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS), which added one second to Dec. 31.

Due to this, "NTP daemons had to adjust time accordingly and CRS product stack has encountered problems resulting in node reboots," the Oracle document states.

NTP, which stands for Network Time Protocol, is the standard used for synchronizing the clocks of computers. NTP employs UTC for a reference time.

The reboots will occur on affected nodes only when two specific conditions are present, which are detailed in Oracle's announcement. The document also includes two methods for fixing the issue, including available patches.

A spokesman for Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

The rebooting issue prompted some discussion on user forumsand lists in recent days.

"This begs the question -- how the heck do timekeepers and politicians get away with last minute time changes?" one user posted. "Surely there's some pushback from technology-related interest groups to try and get more than four weeks warning?"

Other posters, however, pointed out that the IERS announcement regarding the most recent leap second was made in July 2008.

Oracle's announcement is one of the latest leap-year related bugs to surface. Last week, one involved Microsoft's Zune media player.

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Chris Kanaracus

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