Technology and Internet

Test driving ZeroNet

A few weeks ago the “Decentralized Web Summit” took place in San Francisco, even though there was a video stream available at the time, I wasn’t able to watch it, but later I saw some excerpts of it. One of the talks that caught my attention was about a new thing called ZeroNet. It seemed to be some kind of network where the assets and the contents of the websites are fetched from your peers while introducing clever mechanisms to give the owners control and allowing the existence of user generated content. It grabs concepts from either bitcoin and bittorrent, but for a better explanation bellow is an introduction by the creator of this technology:

The presentation is very high level, so on the website I found some slides with more details about how it works and I must say it is very interesting from a technical perspective, it even has an address naming system (“.bit”) if you don’t want to have some gibberish on the address bar.

Watching the video things seamed to be working pretty well (for something that was being presented for the first time), so I decided to join the network and give it a try. For those using docker it happens to be pretty easy, just run:

$ docker run -d -v <local_data_folder>:/root/data -p 15441:15441 -p 43110:43110 nofish/zeronet

then your node will be available on:

After using it for 2 weekends, I have to say the level of polish of this project is amazing, all the pre-built apps work pretty well and are easy to use, the websites load super fast (at least in comparison with my expectations) and changes show up in real-time. The most interesting aspect of all was the amount of people trying and using it.

You may ask, what are the great advantages of using something like this? Based on what I’ve seen during these few days there are 3 points/use cases where this network shines:

  • Websites cannot be taken down, as long as there are peers serving it, it will be online.
  • Zero infrastructure costs (or pretty close) to run a website there, you create and sign the content, it gets delivered by the peers.
  • Website that you visit remain available while you are offline.

So to test this network further, I will do an experiment. During the next few weeks/months I will mirror this blog and make the new contents available on ZeroNet, starting with this post. The address is:

Note: In this initial stage it might not be always available, since at the moment I’m the only peer serving it from my laptop.

To know more about it, check the repository on Github.

By Gonçalo Valério

Software developer and owner of this blog. More in the "about" page.