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GitHub is preserving the world's open source code deep in an Arctic mountain

GitHub is preserving the world's open source code deep in an Arctic mountain
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Given the whirlwind pace of technological progress, it can be really hard to keep track of everything. But occasionally, someone slows down and asks - what if it all went away?

GitHub has announced that the GitHub Arctic Code Vault is now in production, an ambitious archival of all the open source projects in its repository.

On Feb 2, GitHub took a snapshot of all active public repositories on GitHub to archive in the vault. This also includes any repository with at least 250 stars, regardless of when their most recent activity occurred.

In addition, it captured repositories with any commits between Nov 13, 2019 and Feb 2, 2020, and also anything with at least one star and commits in the preceding year.

The production of the Arctic Code Vault will take about two months to complete. In the spring, they'll head to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, to bury it in the Arctic World Archive.

The goal is to protect open source software for future generations - it's stored on silver halide film, where the data is encoded on frames with 8.8 million pixels each and designed to last over 1,000 years. In comparison, today's hard drives and CDs have a lifespan of just a few decades.


The Arctic World Archive is a facility dedicated to data preservation, located adjacent to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which protects against the accidental loss of diversity.

The Archive sits around 150m below ground inside an abandoned coal mine in a mountain, and because of the surrounding climate and permafrost, the temperature in the vault will remain below freezing even if power to the facility fails.

A guide is even included, with directions on where each repository is located and how to recover the data. Maybe some future historian will use this. Or maybe aliens will stumble upon this remnant of our civilisation and realise we weren't just a bunch of monkeys.

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This article was first published in Hardware Zone.

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