GitHub launches Arctic Code Vault to preserve open source software for 1,000 years
GitHub today shared plans to open the Arctic Code Vault, an effort to store and preserve open source software like Flutter and TensorFlow. Code for all open source projects will be stored here on film with frames that include 8.8 million pixels each, designed to last 1,000 years.
The code will be housed in a decommissioned coal mine in Svalbard, Norway, the same city chosen to host a global seed vault. One of the northernmost cities on Earth, in Svalbard permafrost can extend hundreds of meters below the surface. Archivists believe the cold and near-constant conditions can help in preservation.
Things started earlier this year with thousands of popular GitHub projects like Blockchain, WordPress, and programming languages like Rust or Ruby, but the Arctic Code Vault will be extended to all public repositories in February. GitHub is used by more than 40 million developers and currently hosts more than 100 million repositories, according to the 2019 Octoverse report.
“Nothing big will ever happen again without software,” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman said when explaining why the Arctic Code Vault was created.
In a press conference following the keynote address, Friedman said the Arctic Code Vault is part of a larger effort to store its top repositories in multiple places.
The GitHub Arctic Code Vault is a part of the GitHub Archive Program, a collaboration between Microsoft’s GitHub and groups like the Internet Archive, which hosts repository snapshots in its Wayback Machine; The Long Now Foundation; and Microsoft Research’s Project Silica.
Friedman said the medium could change over time to support something like Silica, which seeks to store data on glass that can last for 10,000 years.
The first snapshot of public repository code will take place on February 2, 2020. Over time, GitHub will develop a cadence to store code once a year or every two years, and a way for open source projects to retrieve code, but those processes are still being put in place, Friedman said.
The news was shared today at the GitHub Universe conference for developers in San Francisco. A number of updates for developers collaborating on GitHub were also introduced today, including Actions and Packages in general availability and iOS and Android mobile apps.