Fwd: [austin-hacker-space] SneakerMeshes and PirateBoxes

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Jan 31 08:41:20 PST 2011

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brandon Wiley <brandon at blanu.net>
Date: Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:58 AM
Subject: [austin-hacker-space] SneakerMeshes and PirateBoxes
To: austin-hacker-space at googlegroups.com

I've been thinking a lot about what's going on in Egypt with the Internet
being cut off. (see my blog post <http://goo.gl/f2iQV> for more background
This has led me to thinking about the formation of a file sharing network
not connected to the Internet in which the connections between nodes are
people. Basically mesh networking meets sneakernet, or in other words a

Essentially each participating location would have a Wifi access point which
provided a captive portal <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captive_portal> to a
website where you could upload and download files (similar to the USB dead
drop <http://deaddrops.com/> project), The interesting twist I want to
implement is that instead of just uploading and downloading separately to
each file repository you synchronize your phone or laptop or other
wifi-enabled device to the repository. Then when you are at a different
location that has an active node you can synchronize again. As long as
people "check in" at multiple nodes then the nodes will be synchronized. The
ultimate goal here is to build something like Internet newsgroups, only with
offline storage as the mechanism of message propagation instead of the
Internet (and better support for non-text files).

Someone has already made a pretty nice start on this by designing the
PirateBox <http://wiki.daviddarts.com/Main_Page>, which is an application
for OpenWRT that turns a wireless router into a standalone captive portal
for uploading and downloading files. There is even a .ipk
file<https://github.com/cr/mkPirateBox>you can install on a fresh
OpenWRT instance to install it. The PirateBox
just needs to be augmented with an API for synchronization in order to get a
basic proof of concept working.

There are certainly a lot of details to work out and as with anything
involving protocols there are a lot of issues which could be debated
endlessly. However, let us boldly move forward anyway! So if you're
interested in this, please consider joining the project. The first step is
to get at least 2 wireless routers with USB storage running
OpenWRT/PirateBox. I saw some wireless routers on the hack shelf. I don't
know if they are OpenWRT compatible or if they have USB. I'm certainly no
expert on hacking wireless routers, so if anyone knows what they're doing
and what's to get involved then I think that would be great. I'll be at the
meeting on Tuesday if anyone wants to discuss next steps.

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Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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