[Edit 10-18-2011: I’m writing a new version of this post as this one is woefully out of date.  Until that new post is finished I’ve updated the urls in this one and removed a few outdated things] I’m working on an updated version of this post which will go into more detail.  When it’s ready I’ll add a link to it here: —Five Easy Steps To Installing Freenet Classic Opennet (FCon)—- please use those directions instead.

I’ve mentioned several times lately about mirroring MMS and Lastdays Watch in freenet and it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write up a quick tutorial for anyone interested in getting started using freenet.

*Note* I’m talking about installing on Windows98 machines because that’s what I have experience with. Other flavors of windows should be at least similar and the sites I mention here all have Linux versions and directions.

According to the download page, freenet has these hardware requirements:

Minimum:
400MHz Pentium 2, with at least 192MB of RAM.
Recommended:
1GHz or more processor with 256MB RAM or more (especially if using Windows XP).

That said, I have actually managed to run freenet on a 200mhz Pentium with 64mb ram. It was slow and sluggish but it worked enough to view freesites or use FIW to insert new editions of freesites

To get freenet going is pretty easy. First You will need Java JRE 7, which you can get at this URL: http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp.

Then you need to download the freenet distribution zipfile

Once you’ve got the zipfile, follow the directions on the Freenet Classic Openet page.

The only real problem with that is that when it first gets started, freenet doesn’t know very much about the network. Learning about more nodes takes time and it’s really best if you leave freenet running as much as possible, especially at first. This makes trying to load freenet sites frustrating and slow.

Fortunately, there is something you can do to speed up the process of learning the network. “Frost” is a freenet text message client that is sort of similar to Usenet. You can think of it as a collection of message boards that exist entirely within freenet.

Frost is included in the freenet distribution archive.  Simply extract the frost archive and double click on the “frost.bat” file to start frost.  Once you have it started, it will begin searching freenet for messages.  This will go slowly at first, but will pick up fairly quickly.

As you use Frost and surf freesites, you will no doubt find files you will want to download. While Frost has the ability to handle this, many people find that it’s not the best tool for downloads. Fortunately there is a really great tool for downloading and inserting files: Freenet Utility for Queued Inserts and Downloads

Ironicaly enough, Fuqid’s main distribution page is a freesite.

http://127.0.0.1:8888/SSK@CKesZYUJWn2GMvoif1R4SDbujIgPAgM/fuqid/12//

Files can be downloaded from freesites via your web browser

To install Fuqid, simply extract the files from the zip where you want them. I put it in c:\program files\freenet\fuqid and then add a shortcut to it to my program menu or desktop.

On the "General" tab, set download threads to something like 32. A higher number of threads will speed up downloads, but put more load on the computer. A bit of trial and error with higher and higher numbers of threads will show you what works best for you. Set the insert threads to anything from 5 to 20. Again, you’ll have to work out what settings are best for you.

So as you surf through freenet, you run across a simple but interesting freesite:
http://127.0.0.1:8888/SSK@XKgPxdSUjAcZrV0oTUGeXmoAGfIPAgM,ZOJm89bQCLLZw7DJ23i4gw/mmsdev/6//, which happens to be the freenet distribution point for my Mixminion Message Sender program.

Now you could click on the download link on the freesite and download the file with your browser, or you could copy it’s key:

CHK@OwYc2ErFOhUpgSl~Pb7IZN~v0OcRAwI,hGOyAnIbhFCQNOzeXaiHsA/MMS1_2_4_beta_dist.rar and click "Add Key" on Fuqid’s download queue. Once you select the directory the file should be saved in, (freenet should already be running) click "Activate" and Fuqid will start requesting the file. When the download is done you will find it in the directory you selected.

Larger files take longer of course, and are broken up into blocks. Once Fuqid has recovered 2/3 of the blocks that make up the file, it can reconstruct it. It will also reconstruct the missing blocks and put a job in the insert queue to re-insert those missing blocks. This "healing" helps make sure others can have an easier time downloading the file in the future. In fact, if you’re having a hard time getting enough blocks of a file, you can post it’s key on the "unsucessful" board on Frost and ask someone to re-insert it for you.

I’ll cover creating and inserting freenet websites, known as freesites, in an upcoming post.

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