Technological networks were the first victims of the collapse that heralded the Low Age. First, the Internet ceased to exist as a coherent system, fragmenting in a thousand regional networks; then, local infrastructure started breaking down, know-how and technical skills were lost and, finally, complex computers ceased to operate as spare parts ran out worldwide and the general breakdown of industry prevented the replacement of existing equipment. However, even at the heart of the Low Age, simplistic electronic equipment never stopped being used. Many a post-apocalyptic commune, polity or enclave found itself manufacturing basic computers out of salvaged parts and, towards the end of the Low Age, locally sourced circuits.
With the dawn of the interplanetary age and the emergence of both the USRE and Laniakea, a certain degree of unity came back to technological networks and, while there was no equivalent to the pre-collapse Internet, standardization of software and protocol became a concern again. It is in this time period that the first elements of a popular operating system for the post-industrial era appeared in the fragmented networks of humankind. By the dawn of the interstellar age, this initiative had coalesced into a public domain, all-purpose operating system. Biblioteca 1.0 was born.
At its core, Biblioteca is not dissimilar to the various open-source operating systems of the industrial age. Its source code is fully public, and any individual or organisation may reuse and build upon the operating system, which is typically distributed in custom packages including UI elements, basic software and sometimes dedicated hardware support. There is no technical limit to what Biblioteca can be installed on as long as it is not some kind of obscure archeo-chip salvaged from the depths of an industrial landfill. In the first decade or so of the interstellar era, Biblioteca was somewhat centralized, with a main numbered branch maintained by Earth-based NGOs and an official repository of community-endorsed distribution. This organisation was maintained for the three main “legacy” versions of Biblioteca: 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0.
As humankind spread through the stars, however, Biblioteca quickly encountered a logistical problem — with the lack of instant interstellar communications, Biblioteca updates on the main branch and approved distributions could take years or even decades to spread across human space, creating all sorts of compatibility issues as well as gaping holes in the cybersecurity of Biblioteca devices. With the advent of Biblioteca 2.8, the software community decided to pivot towards a fully decentralized system. Instead of incremental updates, Biblioteca would now focus on basic, long-term releases meant to remain in use for decades at a time. The various regions of human space would then source their local packages and distributions, building upon the foundations of the long-term release without having to wait for main branch updates and documentations. While this organisation greatly alleviated the logistical issues inherent to interstellar software, it also compromised the universal nature of Biblioteca to a certain extent, as each planet now had its own custom distributions.
The current long-term release version of Biblioteca is 3.0, with an experimental 3.2 branch available for quantum computers. Three main sub-branches, or meta-distributions, exist in the major regions of human space.
- .A. is the version used on Earth and in the solar system, often considered the closest in terms of UI and functionality to legacy Biblioteca.
- .O. is the Traverse release, optimized for ship computers and modern wetware devices, focusing on performance at the expense of retro-compatibility with legacy versions and other sub-branches.
- .E. is the Smyrnian branch, a barely recognisable Biblioteca that went through the software meatgrinder of endless cyberconflicts and is as such considered as the most secure of them all — and also the most obscure.
Versions of Biblioteca are thus named after the long-term release they are built upon, the meta-distribution and the actual distribution. The current version of the “Capella” distribution used by the Starmoth Initiative would be referred to as follows: 3.0 - O - Capella.2.5.
While Biblioteca is by far the most widely used OS in human space, several open-source competitors also exist, often in very specific niches. The most well-known ones are Mirror, specifically developed for quantum computers, and SGIS, a stellar geographic information system (GIS) that started as a piece of software but became a full-fledged OS.
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