Y2K glitch can crash some Domino servers, Notes clients

IBM subsidiary Lotus has confirmed a Y2K-related glitch in its Domino messaging software can cause a crash when a date conversion takes place.

The company said some crashes can occur in a Domino/Notes message when it contains a copy of a document with a date of 2000 or after, or before 1950. Some agents could also cause either client or server crashes when handling those dates as well, depending on what system was running the script.

In a customer support notice posted on the Lotus Web site, the company said users have reported crashes when "using Simple Action agents to send a message that includes a copy of a document; using the NotesDocument.RendertoRTItem method in LotusScript; and with the Domino 4.6x SMTP MTA."

The products affected by the bug are Domino Server 5.x, Domino Server 4.6x, Domino 4.5.7, Domino Server 4.5.6, Notes Client 5.x, Notes Client 4.6x, Notes Client 4.5.7 and Notes Client 4.5.6.

Lotus said it has identified a potential patch and plans to release it in an upcoming service upgrade. In the meantime, Lotus said users can use workarounds to avoid a crash, including the following:

Change the definition of the field on a form from a text field to a time/date field.

Ensure that the value returned by a formula is a text value by using the @Text function in the formula for the text field.

Don't include a copy of a document in a message. A document link would work better, when possible.

Kazim Isfahani, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said it's not unusual for vendors to see glitches such as this and that he expects to see more crop up by the end of the year.

"It would be nice if vendors could catch everything, but they can't," he said. "They just can't come up with every permutation of how [their software] is used. Usually the vendor finds the major bugs and the smaller ones [are found] by user testing or a failure like this one."