Software is at the heart of our digital society and embodies a growing part of our scientific, technical and organisational knowledge, to the point that we can say it is now part of our cultural heritage. The Software Heritage project's stated mission is to ensure that this precious body of knowledge will be preserved over time and made available to all.
We do this for multiple reasons. To preserve the scientific and technological knowledge embedded in software source code, that is a precious part of our heritage. To allow better software development and reuse for society and industry, by building the largest and open software knowledge database, enabling the development of a broad range of value added applications. To foster better science, by assembling the largest curated archive for software research, and building the infrastructure for preserving and sharing research software.
We do this now, because we are at a turning point: on one side, the founding fathers of computer technology are still around, and willing to contribute their knowledge, but only for a limited time. On the other, we seem to be at increasing risk of massive lossage of source code developed by the Free and Open Source community, in particulare due to code hosting sites that shut down when their popularity decreases.
The ambitious goal of the Software Heritage project is to address these risks, by collecting, preserving, and sharing all available software in source code form. Together with its complete development history. Forever.
We have already archived more than 3 billion unique source code files and 700 million unique commits, spanning more than 60 million projects from major software development hubs, GNU/Linux distributions, and upstream software collections.
This great start shows that we can succeed in the long run, if all stakeholders, from individuals to companies, from public to private entities, contribute actively to this mission.
We strongly believe in openness, transparency and collaboration: that's why Software Heritage is developed transparently as a collaborative project and all its own source code is available as free and open source software under copyleft licenses. Currently Software Heritage is incubated by Inria, with a clear plan to become soon an independent charitable, nonprofit organization.