FCON FAQ #1 Why Use FCON Instead of Freenet 0.7.5?

Over the last few years I have seen a number of answers to that question that go in to considerable technical detail but I think that the main reason to use Freenet Classic Opennet (FCON) [which I will refer to as “freenet” or “freenet 0.5”] is a simple trust issue.

You see the current 0.7.5 version is built around the concept of a “darknet”.  In such a darknet your node connects to other nodes that you trust. The problem with this “trust based” connection system is that when it comes right down to brass tacks you have absolutely no reason to trust most if not all operators of other nodes.

It is unlikely in the extreme that you have met any of them or that you ever will.  Even if you do manage to meet even one, it is extremely unlikely that you will spend enough time with them and get to know them well enough to decide they are trustworthy enough to connect to them in 0.7.5’s darknet.

Basing security on trust is all fine and dandy if you have some basis on which to determine an acceptable reason to trust any particular operator but with an anonymous system like freenet there is zero basis on which to determine trust to a degree that is acceptable for such a system.

Freenet 0.5 however doesn’t work that way.  The system does NOT ask you to assume that you can trust any node operator.

It is better to assume that there are “bad guys” using the network that would, given the opportunity, compromise anyone’s anonymity and determine what files a given person is inserting into or requesting from the network.

By not basing any of it’s security on the concept of trusting other node operators Freenet 0.5 has a clear advantage over 0.7.5.

To install Freenet 0.5 simply follow these five easy steps

Once you have it installed it is a very good idea to install Frost which is a text messaging system similar to Usenet that operates within freenet.  Freenet help can be had on the “newbie-help”, “public” and “freenet” boards on Frost.

You can also publish an anonymous website using the Freesite Insertion Wizard that, as long as you are careful not to include identifying information, will be 100% anonymous.  Also, another advantage of publishing on freesites (websites that exist entirely within freenet 0.5) is that you don’t have to pay for hosting or a domain name and you can for the most part make this site as large as you want.  (there’s *some* limitations but you could easily have a freesite that is made up of dozens, even hundreds of pages of text and images.)

Technorati Tags: freesite insertion wizard, fcon, fiw, freenet classic opennet, freenet, freenet 0.5, anonymous blogging, install freenet, freenet faq, frost, cannot trust darknet, trust, no reason to trust, download freent, anonymous publishing, darknet, anonymous forum

Having recently announced the release of build 5110, the first new build of Freenet Classic Opennet (FCon) in well over two years it has occurred to me that it would be a good idea to put together a brief walkthrough of the installation process.

Because I’m a windows user and have never installed it on a Linux machine these directions are specifically for windows.  When I am able to I’ll do another walkthrough for Linux.

Freenet’s hardware requirements are, in modern terms, pretty mild.

Minimum:

400MHz Pentium 2, with at least 192MB of RAM.

Recommended:
1GHz or more processor with 256MB RAM or more.

As you can see most modern computers will far exeed these requirements.

*Note*

Back around 2004 I actually managed to run freenet on a 200mhz Pentium with only 64mb of ram running Windows 98.  It was very slow and sluggish but it worked enough to view freesites or use FIW to insert new editions of freesites

On my laptop with a 2.1ghz cpu and 2gb of ram I am able to run Freenet while running cpu intensive tasks like rendering high definition video and neither process will suffer any noticeable performance drop at all.

These steps should work the same on Windows 98, xp, and seven.  Windows Vista will probably be more of a pain but I don’t have a vista machine to test on.

1 get or already have Java JRE 7 from http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp

2 download the distribution archive at this url:

http://peculiarplace.com/freenet/downloads/freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip

and extract the archive to c:\freenet (or whatever directory you want.  I’m using c:\freenet for this example.)

3 use a plain text editor like notepad to edit flaunch.ini change the JavaExec= and Javaw= lines to point to where java.exe and javaw.exe are located. If you used the default install they will probably be in C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.7\bin\

4 edit freenet.ini

*note* remove the % from the beginning of any line you edit or freenet will ignore the change

You only need to edit these entries:

ipaddress=

If freenet cannot determine your IP address by itself, you will need to set it here.

listenport=

the port number that freenet will use to listen for incoming connections from other freenet nodes. You can change this to any number you like as long as it’s higher than 1024 and lower than 65535.  Do not use the same port number as another application

storeSize=

The size of the local data store.  The more space you allocate here the better.  It defaults to one gigabyte (1G) however you can increase this to however much space you can spare.

At this point you can save freenet.ini and close the editor.  It’s very likely that you could never need to edit this file again.

4-a make sure that incoming TCP traffic on listenport is forwarded to the computer freenet is running on (see your router or firewall docs for how to do this)

4-b optional (but very convenient), get a http://dyn.com/dns/dyndns-free/ domain name & use dynupdate to keep it pointed at your IP address, then put that name in ipaddress in freenet.ini

5 create a shortcut to “freenet.exe” and put it on your desktop, program menu or if you want freenet to start when the computer boots, put the shortcut in the “StartUp” entry of the program menu.

Double click on the freenet.exe shortcut to start freenet.  When Freenet starts, you’ll see the blue rabbit icon in your system tray by the clock.  Right-Click on it to start and stop Freenet.

To open the Freenet web interface you can either double click on the rabbit icon in the system tray, right click and select “open gateway” or just type http://127.0.0.1:8888 into your web browser.

*NOTE* The “Configure” option on that right click menu will try to run a utility called “Nodeconfig.exe” You are infinitely better off to simply stop freenet temporarily and edit freenet.ini yourself instead.  In most cases editing that file will be a VERY rare need.  Once Freenet is working you may well never need to edit it.

Because in my experience the “Nodeconfig.exe” utility has caused more problems than it’s worth by overwriting perfectly good freenet.ini files when all I wanted to do was tweak a setting I have elected not to include it in this distribution.

As a result, clicking “configure” will result in an error message because the program isn’t there.  Just dismiss the error message and use a plain text editor like notepad to edit freenet.ini directly.

Technorati Tags: anonymous publishing, internet, encryption, privacy, fcon, install fcon, install freenet, censorship proof, install, censorship, freedom of speech online, freenet, freenet 0.5, install walkthrough, anti-censorship, anonymity, freenet classic opennet, freedom of speech, install guide

FCon Build 5110 Is Now Available

[Edit June 8, 2012: The Freenet 0.5 network is effectively dead (see this post for details).  While you are welcome to try to make this software work and revitalize it, I know of no currently operating nodes.  If you DO get a useable network up and running, DO let me know.]

A long overdue new build of FCon (Freenet Classic Opennet a.k.a. Freenet 0.5) is now finally available. 

This is largely a maintenance build that should have been done a couple of years ago.  The default bookmarks have been updated and certain links & email addresses have been replaced with new ones.  The old ones pointed to the 0.7.5 fork of freenet which has almost nothing to do with this 0.5 version.

**Note** In order to use this build You will need Java JRE 7, which you can get at this URL:
http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp

If you are new to Freenet (Welcome!) This is the main distribution archive:
freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip

If you are simply upgrading an existing node you will need these two files:

freenet-stable-latest.jar and freenet-ext.jar

The source code for this build is here:

FCon-src-build-5110.zip

Other downloads:

Frost: Bulletin board and filesharing software that serves as the main public text messaging system within freenet.

frost-wot-10-17-2011.zip

It is also included in freenet-0.5-build-5110.zip.  Source code for Frost is located in the “source” sub directory of the frost Directory

If you’re starting up a new node you will need one of these

seednodes.ref

seednodes.ref.zip

seednodes.ref.bz2

They all contain the same data, the .Zip and .bz2 files are compressed to make the download quicker.  Use whichever flavor best suits your setup.

Technorati Tags: update, internet, freenet 0.5, censorship, encryption, freenet classic opennet, freenet, anonymous publishing, privacy, fcon, anti-censorship, freedom of speech, censorship proof, anonymity, freedom of speech online

Good News For Downloaders

A team of Microsoft engineers consisting of Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman set out to “investigate the darknet – a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content”.  their conclusions were published in the report known as “Darknet Assumptions“.

Those assumptions boil down to three basic points.

1.) Any widely distributed object will be available to a fraction of users in a form that permits copying.

2.) Users will copy objects if it is possible and interesting to do so.

3.) Users are connected by high-bandwidth channels.

Recently the EFF took a year end look at those assumptions and came to the conclusions that the Darknet Assumptions are indeed true.

For assumption 1, we see that while 2008 saw music moving en mass to DRM free ways of doing things, movies and in particular, software are still fighting tooth and nail to continue the DRM battle.  One infamous example of this is the Electronic Arts game “Spore” with it’s use of SecuROM DRM.

People all over responded to EA by posting cracked versions of the game all over the place.  It quickly became the most pirated game ever.  In fact, many users even complained that even if they bought a legitimate copy of the game, it would not run properly unless they used a cracked version that had the DRM removed or disabled.

Personally, I’ve seen ads for Spore.  It looks interesting.  However I will NEVER touch a copy of it (or anything else) that has SecuROM on it.  That kind of invasive DRM is going over the line and I won’t have it infecting my system.

For assumption 2, In spite of, or perhaps partly TO spite, content providers that insist on using DRM.  P2P use has continued to increase in 2008.  The EFF correctly points out that it’s not easy to get accurate numbers on P2P useage, however if sites like Pirate Bay claiming 22 million users is any indication, it looks like P2P is definitely on the rise.  Not only that, the results of some informal polls also tend to support the idea that P2P is definitely becoming mainstream.

For assumption 3, All you have to do is look at the ever expanding availability of high bandwidth connections to the average user.  Combine this with the continuing surge in the popularity of high bandwidth internet services, VOIP, video on demand, Etc.  Video sites like YouTube continue to grow in popularity and gain content every day.  Add to that the fact that many of them are now beginning to include High Definition versions of their video players and you have even more demand for bandwidth.

The RIAA, MPAA are not unaware of this, as they are now pushing for ISP’s to filter content.  This has to be a major pain in the ass for them since that means Deep Packet Inspection of every single packet passing through their networks.  Besides which, that sort of filtering would (in my opinion) change them from carriers to editors, making them at least partly responsible for anything they either miss or incorrectly identify as “bad” content.  In spite of this, The RIAA, MPAA and “big content” continue to push ISP’s to get into this filtering and are even trying to push for laws that require it.

The “Darknet Assumptions” document also talks about various file sharing systems and Darknets, including Freenet.  Because I’m more familiar with it than any of the others, I can only comment about Freenet’s Darkenet.

While I’m still a proponent of Freenet 0.5 because of the simple fact that I believe it’s the most stable version in use today, Freenet 0.7 does have some features that, when it reaches a point of stability, will make it the single most secure “bulletproof” anonymous network to date.  It’s strong point is the Darknet.  When running it in Darknet mode, you only exchange node references with people you trust.  Your node then only connects to those nodes and no others.

Once premix routing is implemented, it will become very nearly impossible for nodes connected to you to determine what you are inserting or requesting from the network.

Not that doing so is at all easy now by any stretch of the imagination, it isn’t, not by a long shot.  From what I understand, it would take several evil nodes connected to the same good node to be able to study the traffic going into and out of that good node and some very involved statistical analysis before they could even say that node xyz is *probably* inserting or downloading file x.  Even then they couldn’t be certain.

Premix routing, when it’s implemented, will mean that the first three or four hops outbound from any node will be encrypted with multiple layers of encryption so that immediate neighbor nodes will have no ability to analyze your node traffic and figure out what you’re downloading or inserting.

I have no doubt at all that as Freenet gets closer to 1.0, more and more people will begin using it for their file sharing needs.  Yes, Freenet is slower than other networks.  That’s because of the use of encryption on several levels and the high security built into it’s transport and storage systems.  Then again, as the network continues to grow, it’s performance will continue to improve.  In the meantime there is a growing number of people who have decided that anonymity and security are worth the slower downloads.

The Freenet Project officially discourages piracy and the sharing of illegally copied content on it’s network and will refuse to provide support to or even communicate with people that admit to using it for such.

While they’ve got very good reasons for taking that stance, there will be (and in fact I believe there are now) plenty of Freenet users who have no such policy and will in fact be glad to do anything they can, given Freenet’s absolute anonymity, to support those who are having problems.

It’s also important to point out that Freenet is not just about file sharing.  It also features text messaging systems and the ability of any user to create a Freesite (Freenet website) that is inserted into the network and can then be viewed by anyone who has the link to it which in most cases can be found on a number of indexes located within the network.

One thing that Either version of Freenet has hands down over any other file sharing system that I’ve seen is that once you insert a file into the network, it is possible to shut down your node and the file will still be available.  In fact, once something is inserted into the network, it’s actually impossible to remove it.  Especially since the mere act of requesting a file helps to spread it around the network even more.

Technically, files can “fall out” of Freenet. If they go long enough without being requested and a node needs the space for a more popular file, it’ll get deleted to make room.  In actual practice however, I don’t think this happens much anymore.  Most Freenet users have data stores of 20 or 30 gigabytes or more.  I personally inserted a Freesite back in early 2004 that can still be retrieved today.

Technorati Tags: darknet, anonymity, darknet assumptions, p2p, anonymous file sharing, drm, freenet 0.7, electronic arts, big content, premix routing, freenet darknet, spore, bullet proof anonymity, eff, file sharing, securom, mpaa, riaa

Thingamablog Templates And Freenet 0.5

Recently I wrote about a project Modifying Thingamablog For Freenet 0.5 and while I have not yet been able to solve the puzzle of how to make the needed mods for the current version of Thingamablog, I have run into a problem with the templates.

Thingamablog uses tags within the templates that need to be converted into the final urls for each of the various pages within a blog.  For example, every occurance of <$BaseURL$> in the template will be replaced with the BaseUrl of the blog.  i.e. http://blog.domain.com

There are several of these tags:
<$IndexPageLink$>
<$ArchiveLink$>
<$PageLink$>
<$FrontPageLink$>

They present a problem when inserting the blog into freenet however because in order to do that, the BaseUrl has to be #$#ps.key;/#$#e:ps.ednum;//, which the Freesite Insertion Wizard (FiW) will replace with the correct /SSK@publickeyvalue/edition-number//

The problem is that this only works for the index.html page of the blog.  I need to find a way to convince FiW to parse all of the .html pages in the blog instead of just the index.  This is needed in order for the different pages of the blog to work within freenet.

I’d appreciate input from Freenet 0.5 users or Thingamablog users on ways to get the themes that are distributed with Thingamablog to work properly for freenet blogs (flogs)

I’d really like to get this off the ground because publishing within freenet is a great way to be able to distribute material that would otherwise be subject to censorship and Thingamablog is a great tool for creating and formatting the flog (freenet blog) before it is published.

Technorati Tags: blog, Blogging, fiw, flog, Freenet, freenet+0.5, freesite+insertion+wizard, template+tags, thingamablog

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