[Board] MOSS Codebase Search: Success / next steps

Peter Löwe peter.loewe at gmx.de
Mon Sep 7 05:29:42 PDT 2020

Dear Board,

last year it was discovered that the codebase of MOSS had gone online and had not been preserved. MOSS is considered the first FOSS GIS software project. The annual OSGeo price is named after the late Sol Katz, one of the project members of MOSS.

Because of this, a search and rescue effort was launched just before OSGeo AGM 2019.
Last week, Māris Nartiss (cc) discovered and shared a surviving local copy of the codebase, which includes the original FORTRAN sources.

As MOSS is a precursor of all current OSGeo software projects, I want to raise the idea again to declare it posthum a  OSGeo "heritage" project (http://osgeo-org.1560.x6.nabble.com/Sol-Katz-MOSS-sources-gt-new-kind-of-quot-heritage-project-quot-td5400032.html#a5400124%7CProposal) to ensure long term archiving of the codebase and proper citation/due credit to the project team (...we need to think about how to define incubation in such a case).

MOSS might appear as a "one off" case from the distant past, but there might be more coming in the future: With the number of FOSS Geospatial projects continuing to increase (with very different lifespans), there can be cases where the significance of a software project for the OSGeo communities is just realised post-mortem. I believe this holds especially true for short lived scientific code. For research data, data rescue (and preservation) services already exist (e.g.  "Dirty Stories of Data Rescue: Sharing Successes and Learning Opportunities to Improve Workflows" https://www.agu.org/Fall-Meeting-2019/Events/Data-ED21A). 

Lets make software preservation best practices an OSGeo topic :-)


<peter.loewe at gmx.de>

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