Virtual XTC: Software Archeology - Approaching the Marie Celeste

Feb 1, 2022 · London, United Kingdom

Topic: Software Archeology? How to approach the Marie Celeste of software systems

With so much focus in the Tech industry on what is new, existing systems often do not get the attention they need. But for some older systems that have been around decades it is possible that they have entered the Marie Celeste state – no crew on board but still sailing. Staff turnover and retirements can leave teams that maintain multiple systems without any knowledge or skills in a system that they are responsible for. When something goes wrong or an event like the Log4J disaster, or just a significant update of an underlying OS or a disaster recovery audit happens these teams are then forced to enter the code base of these systems.

Often these systems are large, running into the 100,000s of LoC, sometimes in unfamiliar languages, on platforms that have long ceased to be updated.

Reboarding the Marie Celeste

We are going to take a short walk in these teams’ footsteps, we will take a look at an old and abandoned open source project that is large and suitably complex. We are going to try to understand enough to get it running and investigate one area of interest, which is often about the scope of initial archeological expeditions into these code bases. Think Time Team for software.

Attendees will be told a few days before hand exactly which code base and what compiler tech if any is useful. But you should be able to contribute to the expedition simply with your favourite editor and the code base downloaded onto your machine.


If you'd like to facilitate a discussion on a particular topic, come along to this XTC and propose your topic. If your topic proposal wins the vote, this description will be updated.


We'll meet from 6:30, kick off the session properly at 6:45, and pause the session at 8:00 to choose a topic for the next session.

We'll meet online, using Zoom. A link to the meeting will be posted on this page nearer the time.


About XTC

The eXtreme Tuesday Club (XTC) is London's oldest agile meetup, and has been meeting since 1999. Initially the meetup was focused on discussing Extreme Programming (XP), but it has expanded to include anything XP, agile, lean, or the larger context in which we do software development activities.

We welcome all software development newbies, practitioners, and experts to discuss topics of interest over drinks.

Follow @extremetuesday ( on Twitter for announcements and updates, or use the hashtag #XTCLondon ( to find and share insights.

Event organizers
  • Extreme Tuesday Club (XTC)

    What is XTC? XTC is the group of people who look beyond the canned answers in software development. We see "solutions" as a limiting goal. We are the people who are always questioning the established wisdom. We have a regular London meetup (fortnightly), where we discuss topics ranging from Extreme Programming (XP), agile management methods, lean theory, career management, programming katas, or anything even tangentially related to software. Software newbies, practitioners, and experts are all welcome! Thi

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