Correcting the LS-DOS 2012 Problem

written by Matthew Reed

Several people have contacted me over the past few weeks to ask if I can do anything about the LS-DOS 2012 problem. The short answer is yes, but here is a brief summary of the “2012 problem” for those of you who don’t know what it is.

All of the major TRS-80 operating systems (including TRSDOS 6 and LS-DOS 6) modeled the way they stored disk files dates on the file dating scheme created by Randy Cook for his VTOS 4.0 operating system. VTOS 4.0, released in 1980, allowed file dates spanning 1980 to 1987.

Back then eight years seemed like a long time, but 1988 eventually approached and something more needed to be done. In mid 1987 Logical Systems introduced LS-DOS 6.3 for the Model 4 and MISOSYS introduced LDOS 5.3 for the Model III and later Model I. Both LS-DOS 6.3 and LDOS 5.3 included many enhancements over previous versions, but their primary reason to exist was to extend file dating to 1999. (In the early 1990’s, MISOSYS extended file dating even further in both operating systems to 2011.)

There were other date extension packages released at around that time. David Goben released an alternative date extension package for Model 4 TRSDOS 6.2 called T62DOSXT. Vernon Hester extended the file dating of his operating system, MULTIDOS, to 2011, and more recently to 2043.

Now 2012 is less than a year away, and unless LS-DOS and LDOS are updated again, they will no longer able to accept and record the correct date after December 31, 2011. We will still be able to use the operating systems, but having to lie to them about today’s date just doesn’t seem right.

So, to answer the questions I have been receiving, yes, I can do something about it. I am near the end of development of a set of patches to LS-DOS 6.3 that will extend file dating to 2079, which is probably far enough in the future to not have to think about it for a while. Creating the patches has been tricky because I wanted them to meet several criteria:

  • They must be able to read older TRSDOS 6 and LS-DOS 6 disks and correctly report file dates. In other words, it’s not good enough to just pretend that file dates before 2012 no longer exist.
  • They must be compatible with existing Model 4 programs.
  • They must be transparent to the user and NOT require conversion programs.
  • They must fit entirely within existing LS-DOS code without taking even one more byte of space. This is the hardest part but doable with a lot of effort.

As soon as I have finished creating and testing the patches, I will release them here for general distribution. Then I will create a set of equivalent patches for LDOS 5.3 and release them here as well.

Keep checking back here for more information.

Categories: General