Source code on the rocks

What do Linux, Bitcoin, Python and MS-DOS have to do with the eternal ice? These and many other programs are to be preserved for posterity. Their source code is therefore preserved in the perpetual ice on Spitsbergen near the North Pole.

Andreas Pfeiffer Portrait

Github is the leading platform on which source code for many software projects in the embedded world is managed. Both commercial and open source projects are stored there from the first to the current version in so-called repositories.

Github is the most important hub for the distributed development of software and users of open source. A valuable treasure is stored on Github and it is important to secure the work of many hundreds of thousands of developers around the globe for posterity in the long term. This is now being done in the Github Arctic Code Vault project in an old coal mine in the far north.

Incidentally, the archive is located near the world's largest archive for terrestrial seeds and is not just a storage facility for the source codes of Linux and Co. The ice storage facility contains a vast number of digital artifacts from all over the world, including manuscripts from the Vatican Library and copies of works of art by Rembrandt and Munch.

All modern storage media have the disadvantage of losing their memory over time. Whether magnetic tape, hard disk, semiconductor or Blueray, the data on these media is lost over time. Natural disasters or solar flares can also cause irreparable damage to technical memories.

Schneebedeckte Berge

Nor can you assume that readers will still be available in a few hundred years. Or do you still have a floppy disk drive sitting around? For ice storage, therefore, you choose good old microfilm, which lasts virtually forever at constant low temperatures and low humidity. The data is encoded in huge 2D patterns with over 8 million dots per film.

Together with the films, a machine for deciphering was also stored in the mine. This is to enable posterity to recover the source codes.

And if the machine should break, the mine also contains instructions in many languages on how to read the codes. So everything has been thought of. In the future, even aliens should be able to bring the source code of Linux back to life.

Security Code Distorted

Linux at Ginzinger