The Leap Second Bug Takes Down The Internet

Chances are a lot of Internet users managed to finish some of the house chores they’ve been postponing for a while. This weekend was tough on Internet users in the United States with the power outage and crashed servers at Amazon, Netflix and Instagram. And when all that got fixed, the leap second bug came along, taking down the Internet for several hours.

All through Saturday some of the most popular websites had difficulties. In the morning Amazon, Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest were trying to restore their servers after the severe thunderstorms ravaged eastern United States. Only a few hours later in the day and the Internet was down once again. This time, it was the leap second bug challenging servers and software.

Many popular sites, including Reddit and Mozilla had issues on Saturday as their software was challenged by the leap second bug. Sure, the technical problems were brief, but then again coupled with the early morning outage, on the overall it was not a good day for Internet buffs.

The leap second simply choked software that was supposed to be bullet proof to this kind of minor glitches. A simple thing such as the addition of an extra second crashed software at both Twitter and Reddit, as well as Yelp, Linkedin, Stumpleupon and even Pirate Bay.

This Saturday at midnight June finished and the month of July began. To keep in sync atomic clocks and Earth’s speed of rotation, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service had to add one extra second to the clock. Thus the official time was four-tenths of a second behind the Earth. Some software had trouble understanding the Earth was ahead of the official time, and not behind by six-tenths of a second.

Eric Ziegenhorn with Mozilla announced users in a post that “Java is choking on leap second”. He explains that “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”.

Reddit reported a similar issue as their status on Twitter read: “We are having some Java/Cassandra issues related to the leap second at 5pm PST. We’re working as quickly as we can restore service”.

It looks like a minor thing such as the leap second can cause more problems that the Y2K Millenium bug.

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