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Item7705: TWiki 6.0.2 on Strawberry Perl (Windows) fails with 'POSIX::tzset not implemented on this architecture'

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Engine   Normal Waiting for Release   minor  

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After an upgrade to 6.0.2, TWiki doesn't work on Strawberry Perl (Windows): configure runs just fine, but each "normal" request fails with POSIX::tzset not implemented on this architecture. One impact is that I can't build a working TWiki:Codev.TWikiPersonal with 6.0.2 right now.

The problem has been introduced by fixing Item7676: TWiki::Time::formatTime() to observe outputTimeZone argument.

A Perlmonks article suggests using Time::Piece::_tzset, which came with Perl 5.12 and belongs to the core since then. If we want to continue support both Perl 5.10 and Strawberry Perl and correct timezones, it seems that some ugliness can't be avoided.

-- TWiki:Main/HaraldJoerg - 2015-12-07

How about using conditional code? You can test for $TWiki::cfg{OS} eq 'WINDOWS', and call Time::Piece::_tzset, else call the POSIX version.

-- TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny - 2015-12-10

Yes, that's one of the options, and probably an acceptable workaround. It isn't perfect, either:

  • Conditional code is always smelly because you need to test all paths for code coverage. On the other hand, not testing on Windows wasn't perfect without conditional code right now.
  • On Windows, Strawberry isn't the only Perl distribution. There are mixed reports about POSIX::tzset implementations in Activeperl. Future versions of Strawberry Perl might implement tzset - who knows? I've considered wrapping the POSIX::tzset call in try and using Time::Piece::_tzset in the catch clause, which removes the assumption that "windows and only windows" is affected and will be affected for all times.
  • It raises the minimum Perl version to 5.12 - for Windows. No big deal, in my opinion.
  • Any solution based on environment variables isn't thread-safe. There are race conditions which cause the time zone for a process to be permanently changed, with appropriate confusion for future log entries of that process.
  • Perl aficionados recommend using CPAN:DateTime for time calculations because there are so many edge cases (Example: This year I missed one release meeting because Germany and USA both have DST, but they switch it off at different dates. I was one hour late.). I hesitate recommending that: The memory footprint is a high price for a maybe-not-so-important feature (and I love my tiny server, running on 512MB).

But within the small problem there's a bigger problem trying to get out.

The documentation of TWiki::Time::formatTime, TWiki::Func::formatTime, and the configuration variable {DisplayTimeValues} all restrict the permitted timezone values to "gmtime" and "servertime", neither of which are actually timezones. The old implementation had treated all "timezone" values different from "gmtime" as equivalent to "servertime" which is sloppy, based on the assumption that no other values are permitted anyway. In the current TWiki codebase, a few instances call TWiki::Time::formatTime, explicitly requiring "servertime" (most notably, the SERVERTIME variable). But "servertime" is not a valid time zone, so in fact we are setting $ENV{TZ} to an invalid timezone value. This, according to the tzset system call, results in setting the timezone to UTC, which is exactly what the caller didn't request when he said SERVERTIME. Quoting http://man7.org/linux/man-pages/man3/tzset.3.html:

  • If the TZ variable does not appear in the environment, the system timezone is used. The system timezone is configured by copying, or linking, a file in the tzfile(5) format to /etc/localtime. A timezone database of these files may be located in the system timezone directory (see the FILES section below).
  • If the TZ variable does appear in the environment, but its value is empty, or cannot be interpreted using any of the formats specified below, then Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is used.

It seems that in TWiki 6.0.2, SERVERTIME is broken and the conditional code workaround wouldn't fix that.

By the way: It took me a while to figure out why TWiki on Windows breaks even if I set {DisplayTimeValues} = 'gmtime'. It is because SERVERTIME is explicitly used in twiki.tmpl. That could be changed, but on the other hand: For a personal installation, SERVERTIME is the (only) relevant time for the user.

As with so many time and date calculations: This needs some work to get it right.

-- TWiki:Main.HaraldJoerg - 2015-12-11

As a workaround, I have simply wrapped the offending tzset calls in an eval block so that I can build TWikiPersonal, which is needed to solve Item7753, and opened a separate Item7752 for the SERVERTIME stuff. Maybe we can just close this, and note that TWiki::Time::formatTime() doesn't support timezones on windows?

-- TWiki:Main.HaraldJoerg - 2016-08-20

With the latest fixes by TWiki:Main.HideyoImazu for Item7753, the issue is solved. The eval added by Rev. 30245 is somewhat smelly, but doesn't hurt - so I'd like to flag this one as "Waiting for Release".

-- TWiki:Main.HaraldJoerg - 2017-09-04

Summary TWiki 6.0.2 on Strawberry Perl (Windows) fails with 'POSIX::tzset not implemented on this architecture'
ReportedBy TWiki:Main.HaraldJoerg
Codebase ~twiki4, 6.0.2
SVN Range TWiki-6.0.2-trunk, Sun, 29 Nov 2015, build 29679
AppliesTo Engine

Priority Normal
CurrentState Waiting for Release

Checkins TWikirev:30245
TargetRelease minor

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Topic revision: r6 - 2017-09-04 - HaraldJoerg
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