It was unheard of for millions of people across the world. Leap second bug of June 30, 2012 has caused widespread internet glitches
Having heard of leap years when an extra day graces February, there is also this little phenomenon of a leap second – an extra second added just before midnight to keep us in synch with earth’s rotation schedule. This Saturday at midnight Greenwich Mean Time, time keepers around the globe held clocks back by a second to introduce the necessary leap second.
But the seconds proved too be too tricky for the internet and quite a number of websites crashed, too confused by the extra second. Some were wise enough, lik Google, and made adjustments beforehand to deal with the leap second, but most just crashed and remained stalled for about half an hour after midnight.
The leap second was introduced in the 1970s and since then there have been more than a dozen introduction of the special second.
Many websites reported facing problems and acknowledged it lest users get frustrated. Reddit tweeted and put the blame on the leap second for messing and causing problems with the open-source database Apache Cassandra, which is built with Java.
It stated, “We are having some Java/Cassandra issues related to the leap second at 5pm PST. We’re working as quickly as we can to restore service.”
Mozilla also faced problems and pointed finger at the leap second, naming it responsible for problems it was experiencing with Hadoop, another open-source platform built with Java.
The error message in Mozilla read, “Java is choking on leap second.”
Site reliability engineer Eric Ziegenhorn explained, “Servers running java apps such as Hadoop and ElasticSearch and java doesn’t appear to be working. We believe this is related to the leap second happening tonight because it happened at midnight GMT.”
Gawker media sites reported and acknowledged glitches related to the leap second.
Gawker CTO Tom Plunkett told CNET, “We were not 100 percent offline, but the service was very unpredictable for about 30 minutes last night.”
Other famous websites that faced similar problems were StumbleUpon, Yelp, FourSquare, and LinkedIn.
The problem of leap seconds wreaking havoc on the internet is nothing new and Marco Marongiu, a systems engineer at Opera Software, has discussed some of the reasons systems might fail by the sudden introduction of a extra second and described a work-around to help avoid crashes.
Google has dealt with the problem in exemplary way and took care of it long before the leap second stalled websites functioning. The search giant explained that that it handles the leap second by gradually adding milliseconds to its systems clocks prior to the official addition of a leap second.
Google wrote in its informative blog post last September, “This meant that when it became time to add an extra second at midnight, our clocks had already taken this into account, by skewing the time over the course of the day. All of our servers were then able to continue as normal with the new year, blissfully unaware that a leap second had just occurred.”