GitHub Is Planning a Vault to Preserve Open Source Code

Microsoft’s GitHub revealed plans for the Arctic Code Vault to store open source projects on film with 8.8-million pixel frames. The Vault will be constructed in a decommissioned coal mine in Svalbard, Norway, to preserve TensorFlow, Flutter and other open source software for 1,000 years. Svalbard, also home to a global seed vault, is one of the most northern cities on earth, with permafrost that extends “hundreds of meters” below the surface. GitHub also launched its own official mobile app.

VentureBeat reports that the Arctic Code Vault is part of the GitHub Archive Program, a collaboration between GitHub and groups such as the Internet Archive, “which hosts repository snapshots in its Wayback Machine; the Long Now Foundation; and Microsoft Research’s Project Silica.”

The Vault already houses Blockchain, WordPress and programming languages Rust and Ruby, and “will be extended to all public repositories in February.” GitHub, used by 40+ million developers, “currently hosts more than 100 million repositories,” according to the 2019 Octoverse report. “Nothing big will ever happen again without software,” said GitHub chief executive Nat Friedman, who added that the Vault is “part of a larger effort to store its top repositories in multiple places.”

Friedman said that the storage medium could change to “something like Silica, which seeks to store data on glass that can last for 10,000 years.” With the “first snapshot of public repository code [taking] place on February 2, 2020,” GitHub plans to store code in the future “once a year or every two years.” The methods of retrieving code are still being put in place.

Wired reports that GitHub has unveiled official Android and iOS apps “that will enable developers to reply to questions from users, read bug reports, and assign issues to other developers from their phones.”

Up until now, “GitHub has long relied on a mobile-friendly website or third-party apps to enable developers to handle the basic tasks its new apps will now handle.” GitHub vice president of strategy and product marketing Kelly Stirman said that it finally has the resources to create native applications for both operating systems, with an interface designed for touchscreens.

GitHub also debuted a “revamped notification system that will make it possible for developers to prioritize what sorts of messages will land in the inbox or push notifications, and a system that will let developers schedule reminders in the chat app Slack.” The new GitHub Actions, announced last year, “enables developers to actually run, not just host, certain types of code on GitHub.”

Friedman reported that “these new features don’t have much to do with Microsoft,” but, notes Wired, “having a large parent company does give GitHub more room to experiment.” One such project is GitHub Sponsors, which enables donations to “your favorite open source projects.” GitHub also “renewed a $200,000 contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, leading to protests and the resignation of at least one GitHub employee.”