Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

Software Heritage: Our software commons, forever

Stefano Zacchiroli (Software Heritage), Roberto Di Cosmo (Software Heritage)
11:00am11:40am Thursday, May 11, 2017
The Cutting Edge
Location: Meeting Room 18 A/B
Level: Intermediate

Who is this presentation for?

  • FOSS developers, compliance engineers and lawyers, and executives of software companies

What you'll learn

  • Understand why we need to proactively preserve in free and open source software
  • Explore Software Heritage, the most significant project in the area of FOSS source code preservation


FOSS is everywhere, but the risk of permanently losing some of it is growing. Shutdowns of once popular forges are early warnings that we should not underestimate. How many million lines of non-backup-ed source code would we lose if today’s hyped development hubs were to disappear 10 to 20 years from now?

Stefano Zacchiroli and Roberto Di Cosmo offer an introduction to Software Heritage, which collects, preserves, and shares all publicly available source code—forever. Software Heritage serves the needs of:

  • Society, by preserving our collective technological heritage
  • Industry, by building the largest software provenance open database
  • Science, by assembling the largest curated archive for software research
  • Education, by creating the ultimate anthology for programming curricula

Although still in beta, Software Heritage has already archived more than 3 billion unique source code files and 700 million commits spanning more than 30 million projects from major development hubs, GNU/Linux distributions, and upstream software collections. Software Heritage is developed transparently as a collaborative project and all its in-house source code is available as free software. Currently incubated by Inria, the project will graduate soon to an independent nonprofit organization.

Photo of Stefano Zacchiroli

Stefano Zacchiroli

Software Heritage

Stefano Zacchiroli is associate professor of computer science at Université Paris Diderot, currently on leave at Inria. His research interests span formal methods, software preservation, and free and open source software engineering. He is a cofounder and current CTO of the Software Heritage project. He has been an official member of the Debian Project since 2001 and served three terms as Debian project leader. Stefano is a board director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and recipient of the 2015 O’Reilly Open Source Award.

Photo of Roberto Di Cosmo

Roberto Di Cosmo

Software Heritage

Roberto Di Cosmo is the director of IRILL, a research structure dedicated to free and open source software quality, as well as a full professor in computer science at Université Paris Diderot. He is currently on leave from Inria to lead the Software Heritage project. Previously, he taught for almost a decade at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and successfully led the European research project Mancoosi. Roberto’s research interests span a wide spectrum from the semantics of programming languages, type systems, rewriting, and linear logic to functional programming and parallel and distributed programming. He currently focuses on new scientific problems posed by the general adoption of free software, with a particular focus on static analysis of large software collections. Roberto is a longtime free software advocate and has contributed to its adoption with the best-selling book Hijacking the World, seminars, articles, and software. He also created Systematic’s free software thematic group, which has helped fund over 40 research and development projects.