Open Source Code To Be Preserved In An Arctic Vault: GitHub

On November 13th GitHub which Microsoft purchased last year for US$7.5 billion, shared plans to open the Arctic Code Vault, an effort to store and preserve open source software like Flutter and TensorFlow in an abandoned coal mine in Svalbard, Norway, in the event the earth is hit by possible doomsday scenarios like an apocalypse.

Arctic Code Vault is a data repository for the existing Arctic World Archive. The Arctic World Archive is a long-term archival facility approximately 0.16 miles deep in an Arctic mountain’s permafrost. The archive is housed in the Svalbard archipelago in a decommissioned coal mine, closer to the North Pole than to the Arctic Circle.

“There is a long history of lost technologies from which the world would have benefited, as well as abandoned technologies which found unexpected new uses, from Roman concrete, or the anti-malarial DFDT, to the hunt for mothballed Saturn V blueprints after the Challenger disaster,” according to the GitHub announcement.

GitHub says that the data will be “stored on 3,500-foot film reels, provided and encoded by Piql, a Norwegian company specializing in long-term data storage,” adding that the film technology “relies on silver halides on polyester” which should give it a “500-year lifespan.”

“It is easy to envision a future in which today’s software is seen as a quaint and long-forgotten irrelevancy until an unexpected need for it arises. Like any backup, the GitHub Archive Program is also intended for currently unforeseeable futures as well.” Githib further added.

The data is stored on iron oxide powder-coated film reels. It can be read by a computer or a human with a magnifying glass— in the event of a global power outage.

By February 2020, GitHub plans to store all active public repositories. Remarkably, this movie is going to last 1,000 years.

“Piql’s custom film and archiving technologies will allow us to store terabytes of data on a durable medium designed to last for over 1,000 years. We’re delighted that next year every active public GitHub repository will be written to this film, and safeguarded in the Arctic World Archive in Svalbard, for the centuries and generations to come.”

In addition to the GitHub Archive Program, the organization is also working on Microsoft’s Silica Project to “archive all active public repositories for more than 10,000 years, using a femto second laser, encoding them onto quartz glass plates.

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