How to save yourself $400

NOTE: This is being written with a perspective of NOT being a Sun employee...

With the upcoming change in timezones in America, people are all of a sudden being forced to think about updating their timezone definitions. For Solaris, if you're running anything older than Solaris 8 then it would appear you're running a vintage operating system. The timezone update for these operating systems (if you don't have a support contract) is $400/server.

Of course one answer here is to just upgrade your operating system to Solaris 10, but is there any real need for this?

In Australia where we've had quite a few timezone changes in the last 10 to 15 years, we're much more accustomed to knowing what to do - for Unix.

The first important thing to understand is that nearly all Unix platforms use the same text format for describing time zone data.

The next thing you need to know is that there is a program, called zic (zone information compiler), that you use to generate the timezone text descriptions into the binary data files.

So how do you save yourself $400? By doing this:

man zic

at your vintage Solaris shell prompt.

On Solaris, the timezone data files all live in /usr/share/lib/zoneinfo. Both the text rules and binary data files are here. The rules for Australia (for example) are found in a file called "australasia" and the binary data for each zone found in the directory "Australia".

Comments:

Unfortunately it's not quite that easy.

Unlike the Australian (and many other) timezone files, not all US timezone data is contained in the zoneinfo files - data for some timezones (specifically POSIX timezones) is actually contained in libc, which can not be updated in any way other than through patches.

So whilst updating the timezone information using zic may work in some cases, it's not a complete fix and will not update all US timezones.

Posted by Scott Howard on February 18, 2007 at 05:27 AM PST #

Scott, Thanks for you comments. I saw a SUN article that tells me that I can set my timezone by doing something like "zic -l GMT-7" so I tried that, but the timezone didn't change. Is there another little trick they aren't telling me about (not that SUN would do something like that, would they)? There's only 1 time change that box needs to go through before it's rebuilt to SUN 5.9, and I don't want to apply 14+ patches on a production system if I can help it. Thanks for any insights you can give, Bob

Posted by Bob Strause on March 02, 2007 at 12:48 AM PST #

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