GitHub’s Arctic Code Vault should preserve open-source software

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GitHub announced today that it will open an Arctic Code Vault. This should become a vault in which the code for open source software can be stored and maintained.

The code for open source projects will be stored in the Vault on film, with frames of 8.8 million pixels. The film is designed to last about a thousand years. The plan is to store the code in an old coal mine in Svalbard, an island that belongs to Norway. The same location has been chosen for a similar storage of seeds. As this is one of the northernmost locations on earth, the permafrost can extend hundreds of meters below the surface. Experts assume that low temperatures help to safely store and preserve these types of archives.

Earlier this year, the Vault was already filled with a large number of popular GitHub projects, including Blockchain, WordPress and programming languages such as Rest or Ruby. However, the Arctic Code Vault will be extended for all GitHub’s public repositories in February.

Code for the future

“Nothing big will ever happen again without software,” explains Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub. VentureBeat reports that the Arctic Code Vault is part of a larger project to store GitHub’s repositories in multiple locations.

The first snapshot of the code in the GitHub repositories will take place on 2 February 2020. Over time, GitHub wants to develop a pattern to store code once a year or every two years, and a way for open source projects to retrieve code from the Vault, but those processes have yet to be set in motion, according to the company.

The GitHub Arctic Code Vault is part of the GitHub Archive Programme, a collaboration between GitHub and groups such as the Internet Archive, which hosts repository snapshots in the well-known Wayback Machine. The Long Now Foundation and Project Silica from Microsoft Research are also involved in this project.