Alternative/Self-Contained Networks

(This is already a PR, but I had thoughts I wanted to share about it, and I don’t want to put them in the PR message and then have people start discussing them on GitHub instead of here.)

This new PR is going to cover all alt-networks, including anonymizing and non-anonymizing ones.

A long time ago we removed the self-contained networks page because we hadn’t used anything besides Tor recently, and weren’t confident about I2P and Freenet.

So I’ve tested out basically every “alternative network” out there now, and I’ve decided:

  • I2P: Definitely solid, very easy to use, performant. I’ve been doing a lot of research into how it works and everything seems to check out, there are a lot of benefits over Tor (although Tor is still preferable, but there’s details on that in the PR)
  • Hyphanet (formerly Freenet): Absolutely terrible. Even ignoring the poor UX and horrendous publishing experience, everything about Freenet seems like a massive liability to me. Also they still haven’t bothered to rename any of the Freenet software to the new name. This basically feels like the crappy version of IPFS (which says a lot because IPFS already isn’t spectacular).

And then some ones we haven’t listed before:

  • IPFS: I’ve used IPFS so many times, but I think my current setup is the only one which works the way I want it to. Seems to work well if you actually set it up right, pretty lackluster otherwise (in addition to poor performance generally, it is very complex to host anything but the most basic website, as I found out mirroring PG). I think it is worth bringing back for its censorship-resistant properties. Way better than Freenet.
  • Tailscale: I like
  • ZeroNet: is abandoned, and I don’t like the lack of activity on the two main forks. Not going to add it.
  • LokiNet: almost considered creating a PG mirror here, but it feels abandoned and I am probably biased against crypto. Not going to add it.
  • Nebula: feels too complex for what it is, not going to add it.

Plus 2 I’m still uncertain about:

  • ZeroTier: I don’t have much against, except their weird license instead of being FOSS, and it just generally not being quite as nice as Tailscale. Probably going to add this one anyways.
  • Yggdrasil: probably the most obscure one out here, I’m tempted because 1) it works well, 2) uses modern crypto, 3) been around a long time. It might also be useful in terms of censorship-resistance. I’m leaning against adding it because it’s too reliant on the user setting it up properly: if you don’t then you’re basically exposing yourself to everyone on the network.

Related PR:

Existing related discussions:

Yggdrasil… it’s too reliant on the user setting it up properly…

Maybe look into the official Yggdrasil as SOCKS proxy / port forwarder. That should resolve the security concern.

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Out of curiosity, what about GNUnet? Not sure how active the project is, but having a FOSS option is attractive to some (if it’s viable).