Your Data. Your Server. Your Place.

Freedombone is a home server system which enables you to run your own internet services, individually or as a household. It includes all of the things you'd expect such as email, chat, VoIP, web sites, wikis, blogs, social networks, media hosting and more. You can run Freedombone on an old laptop or single board computer. No ads and no built-in spying.

Introducing Petnames

Recently I added deployment scripts to Epicyon for hosting on onion or i2p domains. These methods may provide greater independence, since you could easily self-host your own social media presence from your laptop and without a server, but using the long random domain names is very cumbersome. Is there a way to square the triangle of Zooko? It turns out that there is, using something called "petnames".

In Epicyon now if you select the avatar image of a person then you can optionally assign a petname for them. If you subsequently want to send a direct message to them then within the send to field you can just enter @petname. With something like an i2p address this massively simplifies the problem of specifying the intended recipient and keeps the amount of typing or copy-pasting to a minimum. When the post is sent the petname is then looked up and the full ActivityPub handle is substituted. Each account can have its own preferred petnames.

So this should make p2p ActivityPub more of a practical proposition rather than just a proof of concept.

Epicyon on i2p

The Epicyon ActivityPub server is now able to be installed on i2p addresses (aka eepsites). This means that it's now possible to run fediverse instances in a purely end-to-end encrypted peer-to-peer mode.

i2p is a bit slower than using a Tor browser, so don't expect rapid page load times. Be prepared for a leisurely pace of events. Get ready to drink coffee and stare out of the window, similar to dialup internet in the 1990s for any older hackers who still remember that. As a practical example, the inbox timeline which takes a couple of seconds to refresh on the clearnet in Firefox might take 10 seconds for an onion instance in a Tor browser or 15-20 seconds or longer on an i2p instance.

Within the deploy directory there is a script called i2p which can be used to install an i2p instance on Debian or Arch/Parabola. With some modifications to package names it could be adapted for other distros.

To access i2p sites use an ordinary browser, like Firefox, and within preferences/network select manual proxy and set http to 127.0.0.1 port 4444 and socks5 to 127.0.0.1 port 4447. Also turn off DNS via HTTPS if that is enabled. Then your i2p domain name should resolve. Unlike in a Tor browser, when in this proxied mode you won't be able to access clearnet sites, only i2p ones.

When not running on an ordinary domain name there are also limits to federation. Instances on i2p domains will typically only federate with other i2p instances. Familiar instances are typically not set up to use i2p and so won't federate. So on an i2p instance don't expect to be able to federate with mastodon.social.

How useful is a peer-to-peer fediverse?

It really depends on your situation. The obvious advantage is that servers aren't needed and you get end-to-end security without any additional coding effort and without needing to rely upon dodgy certificate authorities or DNS/ICANN. The client/server model does have some advantages though, since the server and its admin provide a rallying point around which to build a community with common interests and shared moderation. This could still happen in the peer-to-peer model though, because there's nothing to stop each peer having more than a single user account. So interesting semi-server hybrid architectures are possible.