Freenet Publisher's description
from Ian Clarke
Freenet is free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish "freesites" (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship
Freenet is free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish "freesites" (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in "darknet" mode, where users only connect to their friends, is very difficult to detect.
Communications by Freenet nodes are encrypted and are routed through other nodes to make it extremely difficult to determine who is requesting the information and what its content is.
Users contribute to the network by giving bandwidth and a portion of their hard drive (called the "data store") for storing files. Files are automatically kept or deleted depending on how popular they are, with the least popular being discarded to make way for newer or more popular content. Files are encrypted, so generally the user cannot easily discover what is in his datastore, and hopefully can't be held accountable for it. Chat forums, websites, and search functionality, are all built on top of this distributed data store.
Freenet has been downloaded over 2 million times since the project started, and used for the distribution of censored information all over the world including countries such as China and the Middle East. Ideas and concepts pioneered in Freenet have had a significant impact in the academic world. Our 2000 paper "Freenet: A Distributed Anonymous Information Storage and Retrieval System" was the most cited computer science paper of 2000 according to Citeseer, and Freenet has also inspired papers in the worlds of law and philosophy. Ian Clarke, Freenet's creator and project coordinator, was selected as one of the top 100 innovators of 2003 by MIT's Technology Review magazine.
An important recent development, which very few other networks have, is the "darknet": By only connecting to people they trust, users can greatly reduce their vulnerability, and yet still connect to a global network through their friends' friends' friends and so on. This enables people to use Freenet even in places where Freenet may be illegal, makes it very difficult for governments to block it, and does not rely on tunneling to the "free world".
What's New in This Release:Freenet build 1253 fixes a very serious bug, and all users should upgrade immediately, especially those running 32-bit x86 systems. This build is "mandatory", meaning it will not connect to anything before 1252. The bug was in the native FEC acceleration - this is a native (C, not Java) library used to speed up splitfile decoding (a stage in downloads related to improving the chances that a big file will be retrievable by adding some "check blocks" or redundant data in case some of the original data blocks can't be found). It causes segfaults on 32-bit Windows systems and probably 32-bit Linux systems too. It has been exploited "in the wild" (on Frost) to segfault nodes when they access a specific Frost message. We do not know whether this could be turned into something more serious, so we have turned off all native FEC acceleration for now; Freenet will be slightly slower when decoding downloaded files, but will not segfault. We would welcome help with auditing the library code involved, if any C/JNI gurus can spare the time; it is most likely a problem with the JNI interface to the Onion FEC code.
Other changes in 1251/1252/1253 are somewhat more hopeful:
* Even splitfile splitting Large files on Freenet are divided into 32KB blocks, which are then grouped into "segments" of up to around 4MB. Until 1251, all but the last segment would be exactly 4MB, so the last segment could be much smaller than this - in some cases having just one block, or just a few blocks. This could cause some downloads to get stuck with just a few blocks remaining. Now all the segments are the same size, and there are other tweaks. Unfortunately this triggered the above bug.
* New content filter infrastructure Freenet filters various types of data, for example HTML, to ensure that they cannot give away your IP address. One of our Summer of Code students (Spencer) has been working on improving this, and the first part of his work has been merged. Filtering now happens at a lower level, and can therefore be used by FCP clients and for persistent downloads. This also paves the way for efficient handling of large files when Spencer implements filters for multimedia formats later this year.
System Requirements:No special requirements.
Program Release Status: Major Update
Program Install Support: Install and Uninstall