What Lives Longer Than a Cockroach? Unix Bugs.

Programmers and security researchers find software bugs all the time; some are serious, some are routine, but very few are record-breakers. A bug discovered by an OpenBSD developer exploring complier failures may have set a new record, though, for the oldest undiscovered Unix glitch.

The bug was discovered in YACC — a parser generator written by AT&T-employee Stephen C. Johnson — after new features in the latest release of malloc aimed at enhanced detection of buffer overflows resulted in compiler errors for large C++ projects. Otto Moerbeek, the developer responsible for the discovery, was set on the trail by a user who reported the compiler errors on the Sparc64 platform. After discovering the glitch, Moerbeek traced it back to an AT&T version of Unix developed in 1975 — thirty-three years ago, and just six years after Unix development began.

Though it may be the record-holder for oldest undiscovered bug, it's not the only oldie dug up in 2008. A 25-year-old glitch was discovered by a Swiss developer in May, and found to exist in all modern variants of BSD, including Apple's Mac OS X.

Load Disqus comments