April Fools on the Net
    Home       The Net       Comics       Links       Stories       Buy Stuff    

1993 Fools: fatal bug in X11R4 discovered


From gildea@EXPO.LCS.MIT.EDU Fri Apr  2 05:23:01 1993
From: gildea@EXPO.LCS.MIT.EDU (Stephen Gildea)
Newsgroups: comp.windows.x.announce
Subject: fatal bug in X11R4 discovered
Date: 1 Apr 93 12:00:00 GMT

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 1 --- The MIT X Consortium announced today
that a fatal flaw has been found in old versions of their software
distribution.  Parts of the X Window System, Version 11, Release 3
(known to those in the trade as "X11R3" or "R3") and Release 4 ("R4")
apparently have a time bomb that will make them inoperative after a
certain date.

According to Consortium contact Susan Hardy, code from certain parts
of old releases of X will stop working correctly some indeterminate
time in the near future.  The affected areas are the Xlib color
handling code, the X Toolkit translation manager, and the font code in
the X server.

The problem was discovered by Jay Hersh while testing compatibility
with old vendor software.  He read the calendar wrong when booting up
the commercial system, accidentally setting the system date a week
ahead of the correct date.  This mistake triggered the bug.

Stephen Gildea downplayed the seriousness of the problem, noting,
"This bug only affects three small areas of our source.  People using
only other parts of our distribution will not be affected."

When asked about this situation, Donna Converse said, "Well, who cares?
I'm tired of dealing with R4 bug reports anyway.  The R5 code is
perfect, so people should just upgrade."

Due to the complexity and subtlety of the bug, the X Consortium does
not plan to make retroactive patches available.  Dave Sternlicht said
the staff was too busy working on new features for R6, such as a
four-dimensional visualization tool and an expanded protocol encoding
for use on high-bandwidth lines.  However, he stressed that the
current software release, R5, has been tested and is known not to be
affected by this problem.

Pressed for a work-around, Ralph Mor offered this suggestion: leave
your system clock set no later than April 1, 1993.

Go Back