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Revamping Freenet

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the rebuild-ground-up dept.

Programming 541

N3wsByt3 writes "Many will have heard about the anonymous P2P-system Freenet. What many probably don't know is, that a big change is at hand: the Freenet developers have decided to drop all support for the 0.5x version, to skip version 0.6 and to completely revamp the 0.7 build into some kind of poorly described, presumably scalable darknet. The main coder even threatened to quit if such a darknet would be rejected. So, is it finally going the right way with the development of Freenet? Maybe not, since they seem reluctant to provide real data and rather rely on security through obfuscation, and then there is still the problem of their general inability in regard to pooling human resources, which, for any OSS project, is of the utmost importance." Obviously, the article submitter has his own feelings on Freenet, but notwithstanding that, what's the latest scuttlebutt from within the Freenet crowd?

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The latest scuttlebutt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543707)

Is that they're a bunch of pedophiles, that's the latest scuttlebutt.

Unfortunately, not a troll (3, Interesting)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543711)

I used to run a freenet node - for a while it bloated with kiddie porn, and not much else - now not even the paedophiles bother, it's become so dilapidated, out of date and slow.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (4, Insightful)

Fanro (130986) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543776)

how do you know what was on your node?
I thought that was one of the points, that noone can reasonably find out what is on his node?

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (4, Interesting)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543791)

Sorry, no, I didnt' mean that that was what was on my node, just what was on the network as a whole.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (2, Informative)

mph_az (880372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543863)

Actually, while that's true in theory; the register printed an article [theregister.com] that described how the information which you download is still viewable locally.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (2, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544056)

By the article, you can't actually see what's been downloaded, but if your local fascist government wants to determine if you downloaded file XX, they could try downloading that file from your node. If the performance is very good, then there's a good probability that the encrypted chunks are cached locally and in neighbour nodes, thus they can determine that you did download it.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544064)

"how do you know what was on your node?"

He was probably the one downloading it :).

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (0, Redundant)

sahrss (565657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543825)

Troll post. There's no way to tell what's stored on your side.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (1)

mph_az (880372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543918)

...as long as you can't view your brower's cache.

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544018)

For a while?!

I don't exactly know how Freenet nodes work, but what the hell are you allowing something like that to go on "for a while"? Could you not block (or better yet report) those IPs? Or hell, write something to corrupt data from those sources just to piss them off.

I know you can't monitor all traffic, nor is it your job to monitor any, but apperantly you knew some of that shit was going thru your machine and yet you consciously chose to let that form of child abuse continue...

Re:Unfortunately, not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544028)

nice troll...

Kiddie porn is great lolz!" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544071)

those tight little 1 year old buttcheeks being ripped apart by massive black cocks lol it does it for me lol lolz lol hahah nigger.

How many revamps (4, Insightful)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543710)

will it take until it becomes something that can be used as easily as an web browser?

Re:How many revamps (2, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543854)

What Freenet does is fundamentally more complicated than what a web browser does, so it will always be more complicated.

Having said that, right now you basically install the software, and open your web browser - and you are surfing Freenet. Its only in "outlying" cases that things are significantly more complcated than this (ie. with firewall issues), and we are working on that.

Re:How many revamps (3, Insightful)

Uruk (4907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543942)

The actual things that are done by any software are pretty complicated - that doesn't prevent us from abstracting them away from the user.

Now freenet is slightly different in that it uses encryption. From that perspective, things can change slightly in that PGP had problems with users needing to know about public/private keypair security, understanding what signing was, why it was important, concepts behind the web of trust, etc.

I don't see freenet having those issues though. Node administrators for sure, but not freenet users. Freenet users don't really have keys or even any necessary knowledge of the technical layer of encryption. They need to know how to connect to a node.

What's so fundamentally different about freenet that it's inevitably going to be more complicated? For disambiguation, specifically I'm talking about the user perspective, not the node administrator perspective (which sadly have been one in the same so far). Node administrators will deal with stuff that users don't see.

I'm not trying to beat up on freenet here, I just think that if the software is very complicated, it's probably due to a potential lack in usability design as opposed to something inherent about the software. If you buy the metaphor of freenet as some gigantic encrypted data store in the sky, using it from a user's perspective shouldn't be much more complicated than using a hard disk. Send files, get files. Sure, there's lots of sticky details, but the node should worry about that for us, shouldn't it?

Re:How many revamps (2, Interesting)

lubricated (49106) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544047)

> Its only in "outlying" cases . . . ie. with firewall issues

more and more people are getting routers this is hardly an outlying case.

Re:How many revamps (1)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544074)

Freenet can run just fine behind your basic NAT device, just like Kazaa, DC++, and all those other peer to peer softwares.

Re:How many revamps (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543870)

Forever. A web browser is something a network like this cannot emulate, because the latency is too high. Making it as easy to use as Kazaa, is, however, very possible. Gnunet is already at that stage, just needs more peers. But Freenet won't do that, because they'd rather keep making speeches about privacy and free speech rather than getting on and actually coding the program to get it working.

I believe the answer is... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544093)

42

FreeNet Is Lost (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543713)

It's hardly usable right now, and the only people using it are are downloading kiddy porn mostly.

I guess that's what happens when you have too much freedom and anonymity. FreeNet has become a nest of criminals and pedophiles.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (4, Interesting)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543818)

I hear the accusation of Kiddy Porn quite a lot about FreeNet, but how does anybody actually know? I thought the big idea was that you don't know what's stored on your node - unless you're actually downloading FreeNet kiddy porn, how can you tell?

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543877)

Although you don't know what's on *your* node, you can see what's on the network as a whole...

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (5, Informative)

dj28 (212815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543885)

You can't tell what's stored on your node very easily.

However, it is relatively easy to see what is on freenet at large. There are several spiders that roam freenet and index freesites they come across. It's sort of like what Google does. So all one has to do is load up these indexes and see how many of the sites are child porn related. Another way to tell is load up Frost and see how many of the boards of child porn related.

There's a very large number of them.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543945)

Freenet has websites, and a message board with Frost. While everything is anonymous it doesn't mean you can't see what's available.

Of course nobody actually knows who downloads what and how much, but there are big lists of websites and such. Although you can hardly call them accurate, since nobody forces anybody to submit their site to the existent indexes.

It's been ages since I last tried Freenet though. The Java server is incredibly annoying, eats tons of RAM and uses a lot of CPU time, and the rest is still very unimpressive. There was Entropy which seemed noticeably smoother, but it had plenty problems of its own, such as a complete lack of security (from what I could see)

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543950)

Who knows.

That damned programs runs like a overgrown elephant in a cold tar pit (it doesnt).

I had it for 2 days and really gave it a chance. Didnt do jack-shit for me and it ended up going to a file called /dev/null . Ill stick with The Onion Router, mynd you.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543958)

Some months ago when I tried it, one of the main index pages boasted of a link to such. I didn't follow it, and it might have led to a slashdotesque "Haha, you perv! No kiddyporn here." troll.

But it's not difficult to see how some would think that's what freenet is about.

Now, if there is anyone out there that lives outside the US, and would like to help me experiment with a different method of anonymous networking, send an email.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (2, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543972)

I hear the accusation of Kiddy Porn quite a lot about FreeNet, but how does anybody actually know?

Hard to tell exactly what's circulating on the network, yes, but I saw signs of it since it was the first thing I was greeted with after finally finding out the address of a large "a little bit of everything" Freenet portal. Maybe the conclusions were drawn prematurely, but it sure didn't look so with links like "The Blog of a Paedophile", "Illegal child porn", and on and on... Think of a kiddie porn-oriented Yahoo!.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (2, Interesting)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544188)

unless you're actually downloading FreeNet kiddy porn, how can you tell?

Seems like it's bad enough that (for example) this FreeNet index [bishopston.net] has felt obligated to include a short essay and an "Enter Here at Your Own Risk" warning on their front page.

Looking at the actual index for a moment (somewhat, the idiot webmaster decided to put in a username/password prompt that keeps coming back endlessly), I notice 3 or 4 immediate child porn/pedophile-related links right on the front page, several links to regular porn, a link to the "Freenet Drugs Index", "The Illuminati Agenda" (heh), and so on.

Not that it's necessarily anything you couldn't find on the normal Web with a little work, but at the very least it sure doesn't give any advantages.

Re:FreeNet Is Lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544003)

It's hardly usable right now, and the only people using it are are downloading kiddy porn mostly.

I guess that's what happens when you have too much freedom and anonymity.


Umm...anonymity has other fans, you know. If it were faster, I'm sure those sharing RI/MPAA music and movies would jump on the FreeNet train as well!

Hi everyone! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543721)

Just to let you know -- I will be posting a little bit later but I just wanted to let everyone know that I love you guys and will talk to you soon!!!

Child pornography (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543724)

If the Internet is for porn, then Freenet is for child porn. Sad, but true. I would recommend getting around this by giving file sizes a low cap before they're broken into many parts, this would probabilistically decrease the chances of any person being able to get kiddie porn while retaining the ability to serve text.

Re:Child pornography (4, Informative)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543827)

From reading Freenet's FAQ, I get the impression that it was designed for child porn.

I don't want my node to be used to harbor child porn, offensive content or terrorism. What can I do?

The true test of someone who claims to believe in Freedom of Speech is whether they tolerate speech which they disagree with, or even find disgusting. If this is not acceptable to you, you should not run a Freenet node.

Re:Child pornography (5, Insightful)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543979)

See, the wonderful thing about such loaded language is that even if you tolerate the existence such content, by using Freenet you are being FORCED to distribute it. Isn't that lovely? And if you complain, the powers-that-be make YOU the bad guy!

Re:Child pornography (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544110)

You aren't forced to distribute it. You can choose to engage in censorship any time you want. You merely cannot choose what to censor.

On freenet, as with Tor and I2P, censorship only comes in two varieties: All or none.

Re:Child pornography (1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544170)

The true test of someone who claims to believe in Freedom of Speech is whether they tolerate speech which they disagree with, or even find disgusting.


What about the fact it's just plain illegal?

It's not "speech," it's exploited children. If you're just talking about child porn, that's freedom of speech. Have at it. But actual kiddie porn is trampling all over the rights of those children and is illegal to start with, not even getting into the fact that you're supporting a network that destroys young lives. That stuff ruins kids for life.

This reminds me of the ACLU defending NAMBLA. NAMBLA's magazine went so far as to provide widely published instructions on how to pick up little boys. At some point, you have to draw the line.

Besides, it's all moot. Freedom of Speech has to do with regulating the actions of the government, not the behavior of a Freenet node owner...

Re:Child pornography (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544183)

There is a large difference between freedom of speech and illegal content. It is illegal in respect to the law, this is where is crosses from freedom of speech into disregarding human rights.

If you can excuse Child Porn with ignorance about freedom of speech then by the same rational you can excuse anything. No matter how heinous it is.

Have any freenet users ever been sued? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543992)

I suspect (and it is a suspicion from someone who hasn't yet used freenet) that plenty of copyrighted music and movie files are floating around on freenet.

My question is, has the RIAA, MPAA, or any other such agency yet attempted any legal action against any user of Freenet? If so, can coverage links be provided?

Re:Child pornography (3, Interesting)

Fanro (130986) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544068)

I doubt that would work, it has not worked with usenet at all.

Most usenet servers limit posts to a relatively small size, and high ascii characters are severely restricted.

Still, today a full usenet feed is several terrabytes per day, and 99% of it are binaries

heck, IIRC there are some guys that share binaries uuencoded throught slashdot journals

I think a subset of freenet only for text files would be usefull, also because the much higher size and greater popularity of certain binaries would drown most of the text content, but I do not see a way to enforce such restrictions

Re:Child pornography (5, Insightful)

Kihaji (612640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544172)

The problem with anonymous freedom of speech is you eliminate the responsibilty of speech. Sometimes it's difficult to decide what is worth more.

PLEASE MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544213)

This post is far from flamebait, and the low moderation is blocking the interesting discussion on freedom the post created.

Freenet is not so anonymous (5, Informative)

Aviran (806737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543725)

A very interesting article [theregister.com] about flaw in Freenet

Perhaps, BUT.... (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543764)

We ran these observations by Freenet founder Ian Clarke. He agreed that the caching behavior does reveal far too many clues. But the next major revision is expected to eliminate the problem. Sometime later this year, it is hoped, the Freeenet developers will release a version that employs premix routing.

Re:Perhaps, BUT.... (3, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543888)

Vaporware. Why haven't they fixed it right away? The anonymity is the whole point of the entire project, and they can't even get that working.

Re:Perhaps, BUT.... (3, Informative)

asuffield (111848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544131)

No, actually, this is specifically something which freenet is not intended to solve. The "attack" here is where somebody breaks into your house and compromises the terminal you use to access freenet. Obviously this is always going to work. If you had bothered to read the project website [sourceforge.net] you would note that they explained this.

It so happens that they can do something about this specific attack, and they will. But it was never an objective and it won't stop a really determined attacker.

fork (1)

Fanro (130986) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543735)

I won't be the last to say it, and probably not the first either:

you can always fork. If you do not agree with the current developers' direction, fork.

Re:fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543760)

You only said that because of the quote at the bottom of the page...damn subliminal messages...

Re:fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543795)

you can always fork. If you do not agree with the current developers' direction, fork
He could, except Newsbyte doesn't actually write code, he just likes to criticise those that do.

Re:fork (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544136)

In Soviet Russia, road forks you! Peter: "Man, that gets old fast."

Newsbyte is a well known troll (5, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543744)

Newsbyte is a well known on the Freenet mailing lists as a troll who likes to criticise Freenet's developers, yet hasn't actually contributed a single line of code to the project in his several years of trolling the mailing lists. Needless to say that this doesn't prevent him from lecturing the Freenet developers at every opportunity. I personally routinely ignore his emails.

Matthew has indeed indicated that he believes it is essential that we support "trusted links" in Freenet, and the other core Freenet developers, myself included, agree with him - so Newsbyte's attempt to stir that up into some kind of controversy is just another example of his trolling.

I have no idea where Newsbyte's accusation that we are relying on security through obscurity comes from, certainly the archived email he links do doesn't seem to support any such claim.

As for the blog entry he links to, it essentially boils down to whining about why we don't implement each and every one of his suggestions.

When considering the value of Newsbyte's opinions, I would urge you to look first at what he has actually contributed to the project, versus those that he seeks to criticise.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543803)



Gaaah...you're absolutely right, Sanity.

I think reading his blog gave me cancer.

Thanks for the heads-up on this guy.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (2, Insightful)

Uruk (4907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543875)

How about using this opportunity of discussion on Slashdot to bring up some of your own thoughts on Freenet? I for one used it regularly quite some time ago, but I got lost in all of the network upgrades and software transitions that left me with nothing but RNF and DNF messages even after having run a node for several days.

I'm really, genuinely interested in this project, and I'm all ears to hear about any forward movement or positive momentum the project has. Let us know about it.

Whether or not Newsbyte is a tool isn't really an interesting issue - let's talk about the ideas that are going to make the network actually usable!

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (5, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543926)

How about using this opportunity of discussion on Slashdot to bring up some of your own thoughts on Freenet?
With pleasure. Freenet has indeed had its fair share of problems, including an increasingly complex codebase that suffers from a lot of legacy code and abandoned ideas. That is why Freenet 0.7, the next major release, will be quite a significant rewrite.

Here [gmane.org] is a recent email I sent describing the plan for 0.7:

People could be forgiven for thinking that the project had somewhat
stagnated given the lack of activity on these mailing lists, so I
wanted to provide an update because this could hardly be further from
the truth.

Oskar Sandberg, Matthew, and I have been developing some ideas for 0.7
which represent an even more fundamental architectural shift than have
been proposed to-date, and which should address one of the most
fundamental shortcomings of Freenet as it relates to Freenet's usage in
a hostile environment, and which I believe represents a significant new
innovation in the P2P-space.

As most people will be aware, Oskar was one of the core Freenet
developers in the first few years of the project. He is now working on
a PhD in Mathematics. Over the past few months he and I have been
collaborating on gaining a much deeper mathematical understanding of
how Freenet does what it does. While this work is far from complete,
it has given us some extremely useful insights and much more confidence
in determining what aspects of Freenet's design work well, which don't,
and why.

To understand the new idea, I should start with some theoretical
background. Consider a simple "graph". A graph in the mathematical
sense consists of a set of nodes, some of which are connected to
each-other. At this stage nodes don't have a position in space, all we
know or care about them is which nodes are connected to each-other. We
can assume that connections are bi-directional.

The "diameter" of a graph is the minimum number of nodes you must go
through to get from any one particular node to any other particular
node in the graph. Note that it may not be easy to find this path, but
the important thing is that it exists.

There is a mathematical result which tells us what kind of graphs have
a small diameter. Basically imagine we have three nodes, A is
connected to B, and A is also connected to C. The mathematical result
says that if, given that both are connected to A, there is an increased
probability that B is connected to C, then the graph will have a small
diameter.

So, if we have a graph that has this property then we know that we
*can* get from any one node to another in a small number of steps, but
we don't necessarily know *how*.

Now imagine that each node in the graph has a position in space, this
can be 1 dimensional, 2 dimensional, 20 dimensional space, it doesn't
matter too much. Imagine that we want to get from one particular node
in this graph to another particular node. A simple approach is, from
our starting node, go to whichever node we are connected to is closest
to the node we want to get to. This approach will work quickly in a
graph that is a "small world". In essence, a small world graph is
where there is a higher probability that nodes which are close together
are connected than nodes which are far apart.

In the ideal case, the probability that two nodes are connected is
proportional to 1/(d^n) where d is the distance between them, and n is
the number of dimensions in the space in which our nodes reside. This
mathematical result is due to Kleinberg.

A small-world graph therefore not only has a small diameter, but
provides an efficient means to find it.

Anyway, back to the story. One of Freenet's weaknesses in terms of its
usefulness in a hostile environment, is that while its goal is to make
it very difficult to determine who is publishing and reading what, it
doesn't make it all that difficult to determine who is running a
Freenet node. This could be problematic in a situation where the act
of running a Freenet node is itself sufficient to incur the wrath of
one's oppressors. Those oppressors can just harvest Freenet node
addresses one by one, it wouldn't be easy, but it wouldn't be
impossible either.

The only real way to address this is to limit the nodes your Freenet
node talks to to people whom you are confident are not working on
behalf of your oppressor. In effect this is the same idea employed by
"darknets", but the problem with darknets is that they don't scale. We
are talking about a darknet that could potentially scale to millions of
users.

Initially it was felt that NGR would allow us to do this, but when,
based on Oskar's and my research, we realised how fundamental the
network topology is to the small world principal, we felt that we
wouldn't be able to maintain a small world link structure if we weren't
able to automatically create links to new nodes.

But then we remembered that human relationships already tend to form
small-world networks (this is the origin of the whole small world
idea), this was a key realisation. If we have a network created by
linking people who know each-other, we know that the network will have
a small diameter, simply because that is how human relationships work
(ie. if I know John, and I know Fred, then there is a greater
probability that John knows Fred than of two randomly selected people
knowing each-other).

But, for a network of low-diameter to be useful, we need to turn it
into a small world network, and this means each node in the network
needs a "position" in space such that Kleinberg's topology holds. Our
first thought was that NGR might be able to do this. Matthew has been
running some experiments to test this theory, and results so-far have
been promising but not yet conclusive.

Meanwhile Oskar and I have been testing some alternative algorithms for
achieving this should NGR fail to do what we need it to do. We have
also had some success in this regard, but again, nothing conclusive
yet.

Assuming we can find a good algorithm for assigning positions or
"identities" to nodes, we are in a pretty good situation as we can now
efficiently route requests for data in our globally scalable darknet.

Anyway, that is where things stand right now - as can be seen it is
still a work in progress, but I hope people agree that this is an
exciting and promising new direction for Freenet that remains true to
Freenet's ultimate goals. If successful, Freenet will be a globally
scalable darknet and will be resistant to a whole class of "harvesting"
attacks.

Lastly, however, I need to point out that our current funding situation
is not healthy, as anyone can see by looking at the website. As a
result, if anyone out there wants to support this effort, and many
already have, then please visit the website and make a donation so that
Matthew doesn't starve while he works on this stuff.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (1, Flamebait)

lousyd (459028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544167)

Whether or not Newsbyte is a tool isn't really an interesting issue - let's talk about the ideas that are going to make the network actually usable!

I agree with the notion that Newsbyte is a troll and not worth listening to. I also agree that it'd be much more interesting to talk about the network/project itself.

In my personal opinion the project *has* moved forward, in the form of a (not-quite-) forking. A long time ago, a talented coder named jrandom showed up on the Freenet development list and announced that he had a great idea about how to make Freenet better, and if Freenet didn't want to implement his idea, he understood, but he was going to fork it. Well, Freenet didn't want to implement his idea, and he has essentially forked it. Only, it became much more than a simple fork. It turned into a project all its own, with very different design goals, but with the same philosophy of providing an anonymizing network. And his network actually works. Now. As far as I'm concerned, it's the phoenix rising in the ashes of Freenet.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (0, Troll)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543893)

Matthew has indeed indicated that he believes it is essential that we support "trusted links" in Freenet, and the other core Freenet developers, myself included, agree with him - so Newsbyte's attempt to stir that up into some kind of controversy is just another example of his trolling.

The whole idea of "trusted" links is beyond stupid. I will skip the obvious question of a reliable method of obtaining "trust" and proceed to this: the stated purpose of Freenet is to protect free speech of dissidents in places such as China. As in allowing them to access a global, protected network to express their views and obtain "restricted" infromation. Turning Freenet into an equvalent of a terrorist cell system, where members are introduced to each other based on their membership in the same group defeats this purpose. Furthermore, other much more mature and effective systems exsist to exchange data in such cells, such as email involving encryption and steganography. To add an insult to injury, Freenet is useless in places where mere use of the system is equivalent to hanging a sign "Dissidents live here" outside a window.

In short, the "darknet" is a last-ditch, desperate attempt at making the ... kiddy porn network survive, because the only people to whom this model is suitable are ... pedofiles.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544198)

I will skip the obvious question of a reliable method of obtaining "trust"
Well, if you don't know anyone that you actually trust, then I'm afraid you have some pretty serious issues to deal with. I suggest you stop wasting time on /. and see a therapist.
Turning Freenet into an equvalent of a terrorist cell system, where members are introduced to each other based on their membership in the same group defeats this purpose.
You have missed the point, which is that its a scalable darknet. You might only be connected to a few trusted people, but you are indirectly connected, through those people, to a global network.
In short, the "darknet" is a last-ditch, desperate attempt at making the ... kiddy porn network survive, because the only people to whom this model is suitable are ... pedofiles.
Ah, I see, Freenet is a "kiddy porn" network, at least we know where you stand on freedom of communication.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543923)

So you have to contribute with C code now to be allowed to come with opinions and critics about an application, or else routinely get ignored? Wow, you must be ignoring a lot of people. Keep in mind that this behavior may affect the quality of the Freenet project though. If many non-code contributing "trolls" complain about something in the project, there's a chance they're right and you, the hackers, are wrong about something in the design.

Re:Newsbyte is a well known troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543988)

Java actually.

scuttlebutt (-1)

wifitek (675392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543751)

scuttlebutt,,,,The answer is "What I do after a cup of coffee and a smoke"

Outmost? (-1, Offtopic)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543768)

Don't you mean utmost?

speed (4, Insightful)

capoccia (312092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543773)

when the speed of freenet comes within an order-of-magnitude of the normal internet, people will start using it again. right now, it's just a nifty way to do things 100 times slower than you could otherwise.

Re:speed (2, Interesting)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543909)

Gnunet is out there and working. It's slower than normal internet, but certainly within an order of magnitude (I get 20Kbps dowloads over my DSL, that's a factor of 2.5 behind gnutella but fast enough)

Not speed, content (2, Interesting)

Uruk (4907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544077)

Fast networks with nothing in them aren't very useful.

The web exploded when everybody and their brother started publishing web pages, not when people had browsers or connections to the internet.

It's about content. For freenet though, that means a very different type of content that you wouldn't want on the web. The social problems that they'll face if the network does grow into something substantial are surely going to be something to behold.

Please ignore flamebait (5, Insightful)

dj28 (212815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543781)

For anyone who reads the freenet mailing list daily (me), you'd know the the submitter of this article (Newsbyte) is a known troll who doesn't actually contribute to the project.

I suggest that people who want to know the whole story check out the mailing lists going back a month or so.

Re:Please ignore flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543943)

you'd know the the submitter of this article (Newsbyte) is a known troll

What's this doing in your sig? :-p

GNAA Certified Professional Troll

Re:Please ignore flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544139)

mailing lists are so..80's ;) they need a forum.

That is what happens... (-1, Troll)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543802)

When a self-absorbed "project leader" encounters a problem which is far beyond his skills. The requirements of a system such as Freenet are so demanding (from the theoretical standpoint) that they might be wholly intractable. In this case the OSS mantra of "release early, release often" might have been self-defeating.

The existing system is basically unworkable and was proven to be completely useless for its main stated purpose: protecting dissidents. Hence the flailing and panicked thrashing of its lead developer.

This project neeeds a serious theoretical discussion and research to determine if it is even feasible.

Re:That is what happens... (3, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544048)

Nice troll, lots of accusations and insults, with not a shred of evidence.
When a self-absorbed "project leader" encounters a problem which is far beyond his skills.
Thanks for setting the tone, you don't like the project leader. I am sure we can expect this view to be carefully justified and supported in the rest of your post...
The existing system is basically unworkable and was proven to be completely useless for its main stated purpose: protecting dissidents.
I guess you are too busy making further unsubstianted claims to actually justify those you have made so far. Exactly where is this "proof"? Have you told the real life [freenet-china.org] dissidents that are actually using Freenet today?
This project neeeds a serious theoretical discussion and research to determine if it is even feasible.
And let me guess, you are just the person to do it. I look forward to reading your paper.

Completely Offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543804)

The problem with peer reviews forum's is that for a user base U1 to U10, if U6 is the only user who knows the correct answer, then he/she's answer will never be moderated up.

In other words, if Aristotle's ideas were peer reviewed in a system similar to slashdot, we would still all believe that the Earth is flat! Thus peer review systems only promote ideas of the masses but omit the outliers i.e. the Einstein's etc.

Of couse this is totally irrelevant to this story.

Less talk, more code (4, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543819)

Freenet gets more attention because its developers are very vocal, but it sucks as a working network. You can hardly get any speed off it, you have to use the stupid browser interface, it's bloaty java, and there's no working search. Switch to gnunet, it has decent speeds, working search, and has a graphical client (not a very nice one as yet, but that could be improved).

You are Totally off there (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543932)

Only a browser interface? There is an 'application port', and there are applications written for it. ( such as frost )

Java bloat? No worse then other languages that try to be *universal*. Besides, don't like java? Then recode it in something else and quit bitching.

Slow? Depends on what you are doing. Are you trying to download files? Well it really wasn't designed for that. And there will be a tradeoff on speed/anonymity.

Searches? Umm there are several search engines available if you look.

Re:You are Totally off there (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544027)

> Java bloat? No worse then other languages that try to be *universal*.

When you have a single program that is supposed to be in the background eating all your ram and half your cpu you kill the process.

> Besides, don't like java? Then recode it in something else and quit bitching.

Or you can simply review the product and give it a bad review. Then suggest something else instead of acting all smug.

> Slow? Depends on what you are doing.

Everything is slow on freenet small websites, pictures,everything. That is if you can get it at all. freenet is one big joke right now.

Re:You are Totally off there (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544209)

Strange how others don't seem to have those problems. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But its not as you claim it is.

But go ahead and complain, no one really cares as your 'review' has no relevance.

Re:Less talk, more code (2, Informative)

melvin22 (523080) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544024)

Link to gnunet: http://gnunet.org [gnunet.org]

bait (4, Interesting)

capoccia (312092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543822)

with comments like these:
5. Slashdot effect doesn't write off the network for a month after release; if we grow by invitation, it will take longer to grow, but we will end up with a better network, and we won't generally have the collapse we have seen every time we've done a release.

this might just be an attempt to bait the slashdot crowd into trying out freenet so that freenet's userbase grows and the speed become reasonable.

Re:bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543983)

this might just be an attempt to bait the slashdot crowd into trying out freenet so that freenet's userbase grows and the speed become reasonable.


I doubt it. If that's what they wanted to do, all they'd have to do is simply point out all the kiddy porn and the slashtards would come running.

Re:bait (4, Insightful)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544108)

Defiantly not. Whenever Freenet's point releases have been advertised on /., Freenet slows to a crawl simply because its not designed to handle a ton of people turning it on for five minutes, saying "this sucks" and pulling the plug. It takes time for Freenet to acclimate itself to new nodes, and that amount of time is far greater than most Slashdoter's attention span.

Re:bait (1)

Uruk (4907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544123)

No, it sounds more to me like a fancy excuse for lack of scalability. Every other network that has enjoyed wide success has grown pretty quickly. Good networks of course always have teething problems and growing pains, but they very rarely completely shut down.

There may be a theoretical discussion about the way these types of networks work that amounts to the statement "no, seriously, we need to grown slowly" - that discussion might even be right. It still doesn't change the dynamics of the way things actually work on the internet. Things that get attention grow quickly. If you can't handle that, you have a serious problem. Not an unsolveable problem, not an impossible problem, but something that really needs to be looked at.

Hmm (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543845)

How does freenet compare to plex?

Offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543874)

The problem with peer reviews forum's is that for a user base U1 to U10, if U6 is the only user who knows the correct answer, then he/she's answer will never be moderated up.

In other words, if Aristotle's ideas were peer reviewed in a system similar to slashdot, we would still all believe that the Earth is flat! Thus peer review systems only promote ideas of the masses but omit the outliers i.e. the Einstein's etc.

Of couse this may be totally irrelevant.

Nothing wrong with obfuscation (4, Interesting)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543899)

A lot of people seem to be confused about obfuscation / obscurity.

Obscurity or hiding things is a perfectly valid security technique, and can be used as a component of a defense in depth strategy. One of the main reasons people love NAT boxes is because they provide this property automatically. (I don't like them for other properties they have, and a firewall combinded with public address space will be just as effective at providing this specific property).

People are stretching the meaning of Kirchoff's theorm. Krichoff was refering to crytographic algorithms when he said that there is no security in obscurity - the security of a crytographic algorithm should only rely on the secrecy of key. You should assume that the functioning of the algorithm will eventually be discovered by your adversaries, and therefore shouldn't make the security of the system depend on the functioning of the algorithm being kept secret. That being said, restricting knowledge of what algorithm you're using will make a contribution of the system being secured, as it can add to the depth an adversary has to penetrate.

Re:Nothing wrong with obfuscation (1)

jfoust2 (43840) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544125)

No, people like NAT boxes because their ISP only wants to give them one real IP address.

I disagree (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544189)

I'd very much doubt that if people were given all the public addresses they needed (negating the need for the address expansion property of NAT), they'd be happy for their machines to be publicly visible, respond to ICMP echo-requests a.k.a. pings etc.

Note that I didn't say it was the only property that people liked, just that it was one of the main ones.

outmost? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543914)

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=outmost [reference.com]

Farthest out; outermost.

Perhaps the submitter meant "utmost".

exactly what I said earlier (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544030)

and yet we are both modded Off-topic. Heaven forbid we correct the kiddy-porn distro's spelling!

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543955)

FINALLY they get it. Almost everything that's fundamentally broken in freenet (that is, not counting implementation and client stuff) is there in toads reasoning.

Now it'll be interesting to see how they manage to screw the newer protocol even worse.. My favourite candidate is not really taking advantage of the immensely more stable topology and pretending it's the same as the old fn.

Great, here come the CP trolls (5, Insightful)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543990)


Every time there's a freenet article on /., the usual comments about child pornography and other "bad stuff" are bandied about.

Personally, I see Freenet as an experiment in what's possible. There's an abstract problem statement: how do you share data anonymously? And Freenet attempts to provide a solution to that problem. There are many valid uses for a solution to that particular problem. The canonical example is "dissidents in ". But it goes beyond that. Everything from corporate and government whistleblowers even in relatively free countries, to those who want to expose sensitive information they might be privy to without giving themselves away.

The problem is that such a system, by design, is necessarily going to be useful for people that organize activities and spread information that has little redeeming value. If dissidents and whistleblowers can obtain anonymity when sharing information, then so can child pornographers and terrorists and gangsters and whoever else.

This dilemma occurs with many systems based on an ideology of freedom and opposition to censorship. The US constitution's first amendment guarantees the right of NAMBLA to express their views on a public webpage.

The point is, freedom to any extent in the public commons will, necessarily, support both good and bad uses of that freedom. The question people have to ask themselves is wether their belief in the ideology behind that freedom is worth the tradeoff or not.

If you believe that the "bad guys" should be kept off of Freenet, then you don't believe in Freenet, or any other truly censorship-free information sharing system.

-Laxitive

Re:Great, here come the CP trolls (1, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544059)

Personally, I see Freenet as an experiment in what's possible.

Personally I see Freenet as an experiment in hubris gone badly wrong. Leaving the morality of porn aside, the design of the network is so attrocious from the point of view of its supposed target audience and so obviously inadequate to what is supposedly its main task, that anyone looking at it in depth can only conclude that it was designed for kiddie porn. Any lingering doubts have been removed when the project leaders decided to take this turn to a "darknet" system whose attributes are even more geared towards pedophile networks and far less towards free speech political dissidents.

Re:Great, here come the CP trolls (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544100)

Re:Great, here come the CP trolls (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544210)

I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. - Voltaire

You can say it, doesn't mean I have to stand and listen to you say it, or repeat what you have said to other people.

Re:Great, here come the CP trolls (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544118)

Well, I also have the right to express MY viewpoints. And I sure as hell have the right to decide that any computer equipment I own will NEVER help the spread of child pornography.

I have the right to express that everytime freenet comes up. I have the right to let as many people I know understand that if they run a freenet node, they ARE aiding in the spread of child porn, that they are helping the worlds worst monsters commit their crimes. Most sensible people understand that.

It's why bittorrent is huge and fast, and freenet is slow. With BT, I can decide that I have no moral objection to spreading last nights episode of the Simpsons, with FreeNet (and others like it), I don't get the same choice.

I have the right to mention that videos and still images of real children being raped is NOT FREE SPEECH.

NAMBLA expresses their "viewpoints" on the regular internet.

If you choose to support Freenet, and it's userbase, it represents a tacit approval of the material it's used to dissiminate.

And I can say that all I want, and encourage anyone who feels the same to absolutely bury any discussion of Freenet with similar posts.

And Zonk can go right ahead and ban me again.

I hate assholes like you who basically tell everyone to "shut up" because of someone elses "freedom of speech". It works both ways.

No, I don't believe in freenet, and I don't believe in your "truly censorship-free" information system.

http://www.i2p.net/ (3, Insightful)

gst (76126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12543994)

i2p.net seems to be a better alternative. especially because it provides an overlay network. you can't just transfer files over it - you can do everything which you can do on the current net. you can even choose how "much" anonymity you would like (over how many nodes should your messages be relayed).

pooling human resources (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12543998)

With regards to "general inability in regard to pooling human resources", I'd have to agree with the poster. I was interested in contributing to one of Ian Clarke's projects, and the whole thing was quite disorganized and rude to new comers.

I'm not going to fight with someone to help them with their project...

The Spelling Nazi says... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544020)

utmost, not outmost!

Same old, same old (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544044)

I haven't tried Freenet in quite a while, but when I did use it now and again before (in the 0.3-0.5 days, AFAIR), the main problem was that they'd get a network that kind of worked, lots of people would start posting stuff, it would be usable for a few months, and then they'd break it to introduce the 'next big thing'. And it would stay broken for six months, during which time most people stopped using it.

Frankly, for Freenet to have any future, I think the developers need to get used to the idea of _not breaking it_ every six months. Otherwise the few people with the enthusiasm required to keep it operating are going to find better things to do with their time.

You can either have a research network or a viable, usable system, you can't have both. If it ever gets to a viable, usable network, I might give it a try again, but it's pointless when you can't insert anything and can barely retrieve anything.

Dotcom hype & Ian Clarke's UberGeek Deificatio (-1, Troll)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544091)

I have not investigated freenet all that much. However, from what I can tell, Freenet is massively overhyped, probably as a result of some pre-tech bust dotcom PR-hype that was being used to sell its inventor, Ian Clarke, as a SuperGenius UberGeek, the better to raise some venture capital from some sort of dotcom venture built around Ian Clarke.

and Speaking of Child Porn... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544092)

Does anyone know where to get a MD5 list of child porn images / movies? I frequent P2P sites for my porn needs and I don't really want to see these files ever.

With the md5's and a perl script I could delete them before opening them and having my mind forever scarred...

If you do this (1)

mandrake*rpgdx (650221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544156)

can you upload the script somewhere? I would (and I'm sure others who find child pornography morally and ethically questionable) find this very useful.

Re:If you do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12544166)

sure, but the script is the easy part.. getting the MD5 sums is more important. Anyone? Anyone?

Speed? (2, Insightful)

Mr. Cancelled (572486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544111)

What many probably don't know is, that a big change is at hand

Like maybe making the thing fast enough to be usable, maybe?

You always hear the Freenet detractors talking about all the questionable content making its way to Freenet, but my question is "How the hell could you stand using Freenet long enough to view anything in the 1st place?". The thing's dead-dog slow, and I'm on a very fast broadband connection!

I love the concept, but unless this new revision brings speed to Freenet, it's a waste of time and effort to me. Secure and anonymous internet browsing is an important thing, but usability's should be just as important if they ever hope to bring this to fruition.

Networks with similar goals -- (2, Informative)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12544190)

2 related projects, but they're also very different to freenet.

Tor is simply an anonymous p2p proxy:
http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org]

i2p is a fork from freenet. Similar to Tor but you can host your own site off it.

Both are not nearly as freenet. I'm loving i2p though because it's much more practical.

For a lowdown from the i2p people on these and more similar technologies see here:
http://www.i2p.net/how_networkcomparisons [i2p.net]
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