Ever thought of having a free, decentralized service or network implementation with no single point of failure ? If yes, then ZeroNet is your answer. Using ZeroNet, anyone can hosts resources without having to handle the mess of interacting with hosting providers, encryption services etc.
ZeroNet is a decentralized, P2P resource sharing implementation which utilizes the cryptographic algorithms used in Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The complete module of ZeroNet is built on python framework. Instead of using IP addresses, this network tags its each node with a public key (just like a bitcoin wallet address) that is used for routing purposes. ZeroNet uses trackers of peer to peer file sharing protocol i.e. Bit Torrent for building connections and sharing resources. Each node can seed any resource of their choice and can access them even when they’re not connected to the internet. P2P DAT files are used to create, host and serve resources without having a centralized server infrastructure. Taking down a resource isn’t quite possible in ZeroNet because even if a single node is hosting the resource it will be available throughout the network (a kick in the nuts to DMCA regulation). You can download the complete ZeroNet setup bundle from here.
Every user connected to ZeroNet contributes certain amount of bandwidth and local storage. This is used for resource hosting and hence there is no single point of failure architecture involved. Similar to torrents, each resource will have seeders and leaches. Resource owners also have an option to choose how their data is stored i.e. statically or dynamically. Similar choice is given for the clients, i.e. where they can visit and choose to seed any dynamically hosted resource. Consider a case where I’m currently hosting a service dynamically. Now each visitor can first avail the service and then decide whether or not to serve it. There are several pros of using ZeroNet such as no data censorship, no data ownership, no single point of failure, offline accessibility of resources, compatibility with multiple operating systems, anonymization etc. However only few cons can be observed such as file splitting isn’t supported, absence of encryption of transactions and no private services can be hosted in it.
Downloading and installing ZeroNet is quite simple. You can download the complete ZeroNet setup bundle here. Double click, Next, Next… Finish!
As we can see in the above ZeroNet homepage image, we see 3 default sections in the left page . They’re sites, stats and files.
Sites show the list of currently connected sites. The following is the list of few default site resources available in ZeroNet:
- Zero Up etc.
Files show the list of ZeroNet resources that the current user has chosen to seed and its corresponding files. For example, I’m currently seeding the ZeroBlog resource and the following screenshot shows the list of files that are currently stored in my volunteered local hard drive space.
Note: Post seeding few sites, you may revisit the folder where you’ve installed ZeroNet and verify your local hard drive contribution. You can see folders of encrypted data with few basic resource attributes. (refer below screenshot)
Stats displays the day-wise and week-wise statistics of how much bandwidth and local storage the user has contributed to ZeroNet.
Now let us look into few ZeroNet resources that are available by default.
ZeroSites The complete list of web resources that are by default categorized into Blogs, Services, Forums, Boards, Chats, Multimedia hosting, Guides, News, politics, porn and many more.. This is more like the TOR’s hidden wiki but with the irony lying in its open availability.
ZeroBoard is a single platform for all ZeroNet users to publish dynamic and decentralized content. Paste any message or link here and it will be shared with all the ZeroNet peers available currently. It is more like chat room for the entire ZeroNet community.
ZeroMail is the default mailing service of ZeroNet, where users can send emails in two different ways. One makes use of the ZeroID and the other way is to send the email without using an authenticating certificate. ZeroID is a trusted provider of these authenticating certificates. It also lets users interact with sites without directly communicating with the owner (just like rendezvous transmission in TOR). Using ZeroMail as a service is kind of slow currently, but if improved over time, it can be a very safe and reliable mode of maintaining message integrity.
These were few noticeable resources of ZeroNet. However, there are many more resources available and going though each one of them would be a tedious task and should probably be done on the reader base’s interest. I hope the above article was interesting enough to make you download and try ZeroNet. One important thing to remember before trying ZeroNet is that the speed of your experience is directly proportional to your local hard drive contribution and internet bandwidth.
Please feel free to post any questions, suggestions or topics that you’re interested. I’d be happy to explore and write different stuff using the reader-based interests!