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Going Back To The Past of the Internet 224

*no comment* writes " currently has a story about a new grassroot network springing up. It consists of free shell access, and is trying to revitalize the olden days of the Internet. Free speech, free information are the key features, but I wonder if this is jsut another free DDoS drone as well."
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Going Back To The Past of the Internet

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  • I didn't want to get slashed so I avoided that like the plague.

    Thanks again,

    Well, there goes that idea.
    • by cosmosis ( 221542 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:23PM (#4129948) Homepage
      Ok here is the plan/possibility. Request slashdot feedback:

      The idea mentioned in the story is a noble one, but what about this:

      Already 801.11a-b networks are emerging. And soon UWB networks as well. What is to keep new protocols and p2p networks, and what Crngley mentioned as ad-hoc wireless mesh networks from popping up spontaneously all over the globe, and eventually having this island wireless networks start to connect and talk with each other - and before you know it - we have a whole NEW internet, one that does not go thru the big boys, one that is anarchistic, spontaneous, unregulated and wireless.

      With 802.11 being built into all future chips, such a possibility seems more and more likely. Imagine the new internet - NAN's, WAN, LANS, all over the place.

      Is this where things might go, or is it also doomed to invasion from large corporate and governmental forces?

      • Because (Score:4, Funny)

        by ( 142825 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:40PM (#4130072) Homepage
        The big boys will buy laws to prevent it. They will claim, if unregulated mediums are allowed to exist [child molesters | pirates | hackers | terorists] will use it to [destroy | bankrupt | harm ] [society | people | children | industries].

        Don't forget, it is to protect [children | innovation | freedom | life].

        • Re:Because (Score:4, Funny)

          by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @06:14PM (#4130283) Homepage
          how can child molesters bankrupt children?? charge them money for the candy they entice them with?

          i think your regexp needs some work
        • These comments (and responses) show just how ridiculous our legislation is becoming.

          If unregulated read: FREE mediums are allowed...
 is to protect...freedom

          Sounds completely bass-ackwards to me.
          Remember innocent before proven guilty?

          Restricting our freedom to make backup copies (because of the abuse of minorities - remember, the majority don't have a clue about copy-protection) in order to protect the freedom of corporations. Restricting our freedom to create our own ISPs and share information freely - again, to protect the 'freedom' of corporations to make a profit.

          I have just turned 18 and I am trying to educate myself such that when elections come around, I can change the world with my knowledge. Remember that YOUR VOTE COUNTS and EDUCATE your friends so that they know how important their freedoms are - that they take for granted - and how much power they have: voting, writing local politicians, etc.

          The dance music scene in my area (central TX) was just the subject of abuse of freedom by some local politicians, and it really hit home how much I should be doing - not just being an armchair activist. I challenge you ALL to put your $ where your mouth is. If even half of us (Slashdot readers) were to fight openly and strongly for what we rant about daily, I think the difference would be monumental. I know how hard it is, but together we have a chance.
        • How can child molesters bankrupt industry?

          Oh wait, forgot about the effect on Nike when the molesters monopolize child exploitation.
      • So you are going on record to say that the currently unregulated 801.11 will become regulated. This is interesting, because that would mean that all of our handheld home phones would have to be regulated too. This would cause a bureaucratic nightmare for all of us.
      • Is this where things might go, or is it also doomed to invasion from large corporate and governmental forces?

        Well, no. Problem #1 is that, while these networks may get large enough to span a decent sized area, they still don't do well across geographic divides.

        Even assuming we get wireless NICs that can send a signal 100 miles, how many ares can you think of where that just isn't enough to bridge the divide? I can think of a dozen places near myself that are obstructed, or span more than 100 miles without any residents.

        Even if the range was just good enough that it could make the jump, how good would a nation-wide network be if, e.g. traffic from the eastern half of the US was all routed through a single (or a handful of wireless) access points to get to the western half of the US.

        Secondly, there's no way you would get international connections without a commerical intercontinential line. Even if the technology was good enough to connect Alaska to Russia, that's one tiny pipe for the whole of the Americas to connect to the rest of the world with.

        Oh, I'm sorry, but Australia doesn't get to connect to the rest of the world...

        So, wireless is good for relatively small geographic areas (while leads to a good community sense), but for a free replacement of the internet, you'd really have to lay redundant fiber-optic lines to every house in the world. Maybe getting households to pay for the lines to their nearest neightbor, and state/national governments to pay for the long-distance lines. That's not such a bad idea, but someone needs to be willing to go out on a limb and make a large inital investment.
      • ...just like fidonet without phone lines.
    • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:26PM (#4129969)
      Okay, we've heard your reasons for not wanting to post cache versions of /.'ed sites [], but what's your explantion for allowing a site to be slashdotted when the maintainer is actively trying to avoid having his machine melted down by the slashdot effect let alone the inevitable DDOS that will follow, given the nature of his service?

      At the very best, this is kinda irresponsible.
      • by for(;;); ( 21766 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @06:27PM (#4130340)
        Malda could have the slashcode automatically create a cache of the victim's site, but by default point the link to the actual site (not the cache.) Allow the webmaster several easy ways to turn caching on. Allow permission to be granted in robots.txt files! Allow permission to be granted in some slashdot form! Allow permission to be granted by email! Allow permission to be granted by phone!

        Of course, none of this will be done. Slashdot's coders once tried to innovate; then they became part of a corporation. Nothing kills real progress like hopes of profit.
        • To extend your idea a little further, Slashdot could generate a unique token for each cached site and email it to the site admin. If the admin wants to give permission, they can set up a simple Redirect directive which will send the user back to Slashdot, eg:
          Redirect /
          It's probably impossible to overload a site that's just doing redirects.

          Another alternative would be for Slashdot to join IRCache, which is a distributed cache network, so that the sites they visit could be cached.
          • > To extend your idea a little further, Slashdot
            > could generate a unique token for each cached site
            > and email it to the site admin.

            To do this right, there should be

            - A way for the webmaster to turn caching on via the internet (web form, email),
            - A way for the webmaster to turn on caching by calling a phone number (if the slashdotting takes down their internet connection), AND
            - A way for the webmaster to automatically indicate that caching should be turned on by default.

            Slashdot needs to make caching off by default, because of (probably hallucinatory) legal issues. IRCache (as you describe it) thus wouldn't qualify.

            Of course, this is all totally easy coding, which is what is so tragic and painful about watching these sites die with barely a chance to protest. Who was Malda's mentor at Hope College? Can we recruit him to guilt-trip his former student?
            • Well, I was going to propose that the way to activate it would simply be to go to the secret URL. Then I realized that activating it by going to its URL was functionally equivalent to leaving it on. Legally, I guess it would be better if the owner was presented with an activation screen. And alternate activation (and deactivation, while we're at it) methods would be good too.

              I do wonder though, whether you can sue a caching service/organization. I haven't used IRCache, but I think I'll give it a try. Maybe it can route around the Slashdot Effect by itself.

        • This is all well and good in theory but ain't gonna fly in practice. Everyone who has posted in the last few months about caching websites to avoid the slashdot effect has illustrated a fundamental flaw. does not have unlimited bandwidth.

          Suppose for a moment that slashdot does cache all these web articles, and that the legality of this is never questioned. Slashdot's bandwidth usage would increase perhaps tenfold (arbitrary number pulled out of the air). In effect, Malda would be slashdoting slashdot.

          Like you, I wish there was some simple feasible way to reduce slashdotings, but there isn't. Let this talk die; extending its life will do no good.
  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:12PM (#4129843) Homepage Journal
    Where pr0n was free and the only pop-ups were in your pants.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:28PM (#4129986)
      I must be from a different era. I recall that pr0n FTP sites were rare, and those that existed were guarded secrets, because as soon as they became public (such as by somone posting the FQDN to Usenet) they'd collapse under the sudden surge of traffic.

      Now, instead of pr0n (which is in abundance), it is rapacious interest in geek news that brings machines down to their needs.

      Is this that thing they call progress?
    • Porn is still free. Just turn on the firehose of USENET alt.binaries groups. It amazes me that people pay for porn.
  • by Bunjo ( 602906 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:15PM (#4129873)
    ... when those "I'm Heidi, want to make mad love to me and my college friends?" messages still had a one in a million chance of being real. Where does the time go?
  • by sane? ( 179855 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:15PM (#4129875)
    That country does not exist, its faded; been erased from you memory.

    You can never return to the past, instead live in the present and create the future.

    Take what was good and move on.

    • Take what was bad so that you know to avoid it the next time.

      I'm attempting to create a country of yesterday as well. I'm putting together a 386 box to play old school games. Back when game developers had to push the envelope on great gaming because they were limited by mediocre technology. These days we don't say things like "Man that game was fun" to describe games, we say "Man that game had great geometric fog and lighting".
    • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @07:18PM (#4130639) Homepage
      True, True!

      For me, the most nostalgic thing about the old 'net was the sense of net community. This was a feature imparted by the very small population and the very age/academia/gov't skewed user demographics at the time. I.e. a bunch of geeks noodling around online.

      As universities started to open access to undergrads, the September Effect (cf. the Jargon File) came into play... which was still okay while the numbers were such that older netizens could impart netiquette to the newbies. Later, the online population explosion really started to ramp, perhaps marked by the Neverending September of AOL.

      Today's Internet is a very different place socially, characterized more by microcommunities. These, ironically, were enabled by the very same massive population that engulfed the old 'net community.

      It's all just been one big lesson in eternal change, AFAIC.

  • From the article:

    Just wanted to give a thanks for posting this. I have registered in Open Directory and on other search engines but I am sure you know how long that takes. I didn't want to get slashed so I avoided that like the plague.

    Thanks again,

    Well done slashdot!

  • is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jukal ( 523582 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:16PM (#4129878) Journal
    Here is [] is just a couple of examples of free shell providers. Services like this have existed in about every country or bigger city since internet was born.
  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:17PM (#4129884) Homepage Journal
    ... when your ticket onto the internet was admission into a graduate level program at a major university!

    To give credit, I first heard this phrase coined by Steve of Secure Design Software [].

    • IMHO, the spamming of USENET has been one of the great tragedies of the popularization of the Internet. There was once a time when a young 13 year old girl who had just been molested/raped by a trusted uncle or family friend could go to alt.sexual.abuse and find comfort that she was not alone. That others had suffered as she had. Find a place where she could talk with people who understood and could relate to her. She could have posted using the anonymous server in Norway (wasn't that where it was?) and felt secure that her real identity would never be uncovered. Nowdays, because of rampant spamming done on any newsgroup with the word 'sex' or 'sexual' in the title, a young rape/incest victim would go to this newsgroup and, instead of finding a supportive atmosphere, be bombarded by ads along the lines of "Cum see young teenage cum sluts who desparately crave cock!" or "Lolitas who can't get it often enough in the ass!".

      I haven't perused USENET in years and I have no plans to return. The spamming is terrible.


      • Agreed. The pre-Green Card Lawyers days of Usenet (i.e. pre-spam) were glory days. It didn't have to do with free access or getting shells on other machines (because I had shell access from the work machine where I was reading newsgroups ;-). It had to do with contributing to discussions. You can find the same sort of thing here on /. but the topics were much broader with the whole Usenet. Then again, there are web sites for anything. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.
        • There are tons of Usenet newsgroups where there are still good discussions going on. All the sci.electronics groups are good, there are places like the computer folkore group. Even some specialized non-tech groups are still interesting. It's easy to identify and filter out the trolls and the people there to fight for the sake of fighting.

          I guess I must not hang out in the space where the spamming occurs.

  • Wonderful times... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dciman ( 106457 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:19PM (#4129910) Journal
    Ahhhh... reminds me of dialing into various BBS's that I could get numbers for on my 8088 (When my parents had went to bed and I sneaked back down to the computer) Or making the long distance call to the nearest CompuServe node and racking up enormous phone bills (the enjoyment wasn't worth the punishment I got from my parents in return though:) )

    But seriously... I loved those times... logging onto servers that you had little clue about.. seeing what was there... who was there... etc.

    This seems like a good project to play around with.
    • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @06:02PM (#4130206) Homepage
      You had an 8088? Why back in the day, we didn't have no fancy 8088s! We had our fingers! And tin cans and string! And we were glad to have them, too! Sure, it took forever to get the latest pr0n, but once we found someone to go into the drugstore for us, then we had it. Of course, we had to walk fifteen miles through a raging snowstorm to get it, uphill, both ways!
      You young whippersnappers have it so easy... rassum-fassum-mumble-grumble
      • You had an 8088? Why back in the day, we didn't have no fancy 8088s! We had our fingers! And tin cans and string! And we were glad to have them, too! Sure, it took forever to get the latest pr0n...

        What's the point of getting the latest pr0n if your fingers are busy doing something else?

        (Not to mention your tin cans. Sheesh! ;)
  • I predict.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:20PM (#4129923) Homepage Journal
    ... that within a few years, there'll be informal networks across the country. I can just see my apartment complex linking all the computers together via 802.11 and sharing what they got. Once you've got a network at an apartment complex (for example), then it isn't hard to link it to a neighboring complex. Anybody remember that story of the guy getting a 3-mile LOS wirless connection going in San Fran? (I may have the details wrong, but the idea mostly works..)

    If/When that becomes popular, before long people'll be able to look to these informal nets when the corporate internet lets them down. Maybe I'm just fantasizing, but I do think networking has become cheap and easy enough, and I think the internet is getting regulated enough that people will have interest in doing these kinds of things.

    • Re:I predict.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dattaway ( 3088 )
      Anybody remember that story of the guy getting a 3-mile LOS wirless connection going in San Fran?

      3 miles? That's nothing [].
      • Also from that website are a few notes on security [] that mention with a good antenna on each side, 15 miles can be achieved without an amplifier. 2000 feet with just one antenna and no amplifier.

        This is on par with my experience riding around town with a 12dB yagi, pointing it like a laserbeam into hotels and high density housing areas.
    • Man, that is my dream!
      The internet was supposed to be decentralized, but it is not enough for my taste ;-)
      I dream of everyone having fast wireless connection, so we could all have servers sitting in the corner, easilly moveable and not required to dial up/connect to any providers.
      A true web, a p2p system if you want were I connect to you and you connect to the other etc etc...
      I guess there is much research which need to be done, probably I'm just dreaming,
      but it has been my original dream when I first began "playing" with computers.
      A COMPLETLY decentralized communication medium, where I am the only responsible of my node, my identity...
  • Oy. (Score:3, Funny)

    by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:20PM (#4129925) Homepage
    new grassroot network springing up...olden days of the Internet...Free speech, free information are the key features, but I wonder if this is jsut another free DDoS drone as well.

    ...what, you think they've already set up their own version of Slashdot?

  • pretty neat idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:24PM (#4129957)
    I missed the good old days of the Internet by about 15-20 years or so having never really gotten into the Internet until college (fall of '95). Unfortunately I bet this just turns into a haven for IRC bots and the like.

    If you are looking for something cool to be involved in and has a sense of community i'd advise checking out the 6bone (, the IPV6 testbed. Everyone there is very helpful and friendly and there is a sense of some greater good. Hehe its kind of cool because not everything works in IPV6 so people are working on porting old taken for granted apps like different MTA's and other servers. I wonder if the way the 6bone folks work togather is similar to the old days of the Internet.
  • This is his site [].

  • I remember my first expirence with the internet. A dialup line to a unix box, it did cost a fortune.
    The amount of machines was small and there were no such thing as a web browser.
    Personally I found it to be a great source of lyrics and guitar tabs in ascii format. Could find a tab for every song I wanted to play.
    The signal to noise level was good since it was free for spam, ads. etc.
    It had little use for my daily work, a few computer companies(like HP) had servers up where you could ftp latest patches, but mostly I had to rely on my CompuServe account to get the latest drivers and patches.
    The problem I remeber with my CompuServe account was that there were no dial in lines in my country, it came later on though.

    I remeber that hardly any of my friends or co-workers found it interesting, I got the account from by boss who had ordered but didn't really find any use for it.
    I have always been hooked on computers my primary drive for working with them is that I like the concept of making them work for me, and when I got this fancy new internet console, it was interesting simply by the fact that could access a computer on the other side of the world. Normally one would dial a BBS locally and sometimes when one could afford the 2$ pr min. for a call to the US, I would try it with one eye on my watch.

    When the place I worked at later on, got the first internet connection with the fancy new blazing fast ISDN standard(still to expensive for private users), the new mosaic browser came to my attention and we had to open up for port 80 since no one was using the connection for browsing.
    I also remember something about we couldn't access all parts of the internet. There was some US backbone parts that were closed, that only got open to us because we were a goverment owned research institution so we could get access to the same lines as the US univ.

    Then we started running dual IDSN and my friends had begun showing interest into that internet thing and their envy were hard to hide for them. I woked in a place where I could download with 14 kilobytes pr second!!!. Then we got our 256kb line and I had my friends visiting me at work, just to see this line where I could download with over 20 Kilobytes pr second.

    Ah, and these days, no one is amazed by my 2048 Kbit ADSL line with 512Kbit upstream that I have at home....

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:39PM (#4130063) Homepage Journal
    Humm, The good ole days.

    1. People on IRC who talked about things other than mod chips/xbox/playstation isos/porn/divx/mp3s...
    2. Usenet newsgroups without spam, and the occasional flame war.
    3. No Private message forums, only Usenet (sorry Slashdot)
    4. Email without spam.
    5. Shell accounts used for ppp emulators (no thanks!)
    6. More than one tcp/ip stack choice.
    7. Any web browser could display a website.
    8. FTP search engines that worked.
    9. No paying to download files (ala like Fileplanet)
    10. The age of unencrypted innocence.
    11. No pop ups ads.
    12. No mass free-email accounts.
    13. Letting the Internet regulate itself, no Government interference.
    Read at your own risk - Open Letter to America from a Canadian
    • by brer_rabbit ( 195413 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:45PM (#4130100) Journal
      14. <BLINK>
    • Interesting link. Pity it's not backed by more facts or written in a more analytical fashion.

      (For the record, I agree with most of it.)
    • 14. Surfing at 1200 baud. One line at a time.
    • Yeah, but I don't miss Compuserve, and I don't miss having to make a long distance call to connect. And your sig is a troll.
    • you arent going back far enough...

      Dialing in with UUCP every 4 hours on a cron job to transfer any mail you may have.

      having your news server sync with the downstream server during the session to cache the 3-4 popular newsgroups that you need to serve to the next guy.

      Web browser.... WHAT web browser?

      WE had set up a large number of boxes at dialing boundries to avoid any long distance.. we had about 5 of them down the michigan shoreline to get a dial-in to U of Chicago so that we could offload the mail and usenet that was collected and start the reverse track. It was great, gopher and ftp via email... when you found a file you wanted you usually had it within 24-48 hours.

      1989 was an AWESOME time for the internet. in 1990 we finally got a internet node available in Grand Rapids so the UUCP jumps went from 5 to 1!! that made a huge difference in latency! mand we were drooling over the speed (as with upgrading to the fancy new 9600BPS modems.. we bought the university 2 of them!) I ran the Evil SCO Xenix back then. (It was all that was available for a 286 and free from the college.... I loved the days when you could check-out software from the library!) Eventually we upgraded to the mind blowing 14.4 modems and decided to have a full-time 14.4 connection using that ppp stuff. (It was great) now everyone that UUCP 'd into my box was getting less latency!

      THEM were the days of the internet.. when you HAD to have Unix ot a Unix clone to get on it... otherwise you had to use a terminal program and use someone's box with their shell account.
  • Screw shell access, give me back the years I spent at failed dot coms and what I lost on internet stocks. That'd be golden days for me, thank you very much.
    • Strange, that the golden days for a person who raped the internet, would be at the height of the gangbang.

      I'll spare everyone the AIDS/internet commercialism analogy.
  • A copy of his page. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2002 @05:46PM (#4130105)

    Search The Open Directory Project - Note: Not this site.

    Just so everyone knows, accounts will generally be added in the evenings as I do have a day job. Just be patient, you're not paying for it anyway.

    Damn, Not SLASHDOT!!!!!

    Visit the message board

    What is this place?
    This is the very simple home of

    What is
    A free shell server. No strings attached, the box isn't the fastest and neither is the connection but if you desire a shell account, let me know.

    What will I have access to on this machine?
    All normal shell tools available on OpenBSD, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, BitchX, and most other things you ask me to install.

    What is an open-network?
    By the book:
    The overall design of a communication carrier's basic network facilities and services to permit all users of the basic network to interconnect to specific basic network functions and interfaces on an unbundled, equal-access basis.
    My Definition:
    A set of computers, networks, software apps which allow users to have access not for money or prestige, just for the knowledge gained by running the network. Users should have seemless access to all machines on the network and should not be hindered by the all to familiar "Out-bound connections disabled". Passwords will be shared among all machines on the network thereby allowing users to have a single login on machines belonging to multiple people. The administrators of individual machines wil be responsible for overall system security or choosing a network power-user to assist in administration.

    Some Rules:

    If you screw up, I will kill your account. No questions, no debating, this is my machine, not yours!
    No Hacking (My box or others box from my box) See rule #1.
    No DOS-ing to or from my box. See rule #1.
    If you find a vulnerability on my machine, let me know, don't ever post the problem on the internet. See rule #1
    If you think you are doing anything questionable, See rule #1

    Will you host my domain
    Sure, don't expect miracle from this machine though. The internet connection is 384K/1500K and the machine is not the latest and greatest.
    Do not try to make any money in anyway from my box, if you do, you obviously don't know what an open-network is and you need to See rule #1.

    Can I get a forward zone from
    Of course, it wouldn't be open if you couldn't. Be aware, the final decision is mine.

    Why are you doing this?
    If you know me, you know my answer, if you don't know me, the answer is "Because I can!"

    What other sites do you run?
    and myself and one other administrator run the show at

    Have fun and if you want an account, drop me a line at

    This box is powered by:
    And a bunch of BASH

    00779 hits since August 22, 2002
  • The reason the internet was great back then, wasn't because it took 48 hours of hair pulling to get your DOS ip stack configured correctly.

    It was because dumbass politicians and greedy politicians hadn't touched it. They've spent the better part of a decade proving to us, that it wasn't because they couldn't.

    But what if we could build a network that was extremely difficult for them to mess with?

    What if it offered the same services as the regular net, fully routed static IP, DNS, and no restrictions. No one coming after you for posting files, building a website, or registering a domain name that some corps find offensive.

    And as a side bonus, it might be just as complicated to get connected to it, as the internet originally was...

    Read my unfinished webpage [] about it.
    • I've been thinking about this problem for quite some time. My thoughts aren't quite ready for publishing, but I did get quite a bit of information first.

      Some links:
      GNUNet []
      This is aimed at a being an anonymous backbone, of sorts, but is currently being developed more towards the P2P file sharing aspect. That said, the papers on their website are fascinating.

      Freenet []
      This is more of an anonymous content publishing network. A partial solution.

      Please reply to tell me if these are what you're looking for.
      • Well, not really.

        Why do we have to give up the global IP network part, to get our freedom back?

        Let me summarize my idea. We do a large VPN over our existing internet connections, hub and spoke model, full routing. Probably using the 10.x.x.x address space at first, with a simple planned upgrade to ipv6, when it's ready for primetime.

        Those with multi-homed nodes only connect to other routing nodes in other countries, across international borders. This should prevent, or at least slow law enforcement from node hopping. Being a fully routed network, you can only snitch on the nodes that connect directly to you, the system is designed so you don't have to know anything else. And what good is it to them, if you can snitch on others, if they can't serve warrants because its out of their jurisdiction. There will still be damage, but in this way it can be contained.

        I'm also thinking about a new "emergency broadcast system" service. Multicast so that all users/nodes see a message within minutes, some sort of authentication so that transmit is offlimits except to admins. You HAVE to run the client, or you get disconnected. If we can coordinate, without knowing much about each other, we can still move faster than those that would shut it down.

        The thing that gets me, is what sort of social policy should there be? There are risks associated with inviting just anyone, and if we have a good idea how to go about doing that, we might be able to avoid some of it.

        But in the end, I expect there to at least be complete web services, unmonitored/able IRC, spam-free email (rebuilding the system from scratch will let us be able to fix that), and anything else that you can do with IP.

        And please, if you want to criticize do so, this is a bare outline of an idea, not a carefully crafted thing. Point out the flaws, and offer solutions, if they occur to you.
        • And please, if you want to criticize do so, this is a bare outline of an idea, not a carefully crafted thing. Point out the flaws, and offer solutions, if they occur to you.
          Of course. That said, here's my take on it.

          Your system looks very strong, and very robust. It lacks deniability, and decentralization is difficult, but otherwise, it works. I'm a bit tired right now, so I'll probably think of things later, and add them to my system, and tell you of them, assuming this conversation is still going.

          Routing is an incredibly delicate process. Routing without a central authority is damn near impossible. The Internet uses ARPA to distribute IP addresses, and thusly, they can track down each IP to its owner.

          With the VPN system you propose, you still need a central authority to allocate IPs. A central authority is a single point of failure, if you haven't gotten that yet. It's a single point of accountability. If you can get away from that single point, then you open yourself up to spoofing, spamming, authority hijacking, and all sorts of bad things. (This is a point of weakness, fill it in, and you'll have a much stronger system.)

          The current method of anonymous routing is P2P flooding. This, obviously, doesn't scale well. I haven't figured out anything better. Freenet has a significantly optimized flooding algo, but it still relies on flooding to some extent. O(log n) compared to O(n) or something along those lines. IP is much closer to O(1), although you could make an argument for it being O(n/c) with a very large c. (That would mean that the IP wouldn't scale well for values that are orders of magnitude higher than c.) No rigorous proofs here, so keep that grain of salt handy.

          The thing that gets me, is what sort of social policy should there be?

          This relates strongly to a project I'm thinking on right now. It (obviously) isn't anywhere near complete. But you may be able to cull some interesting ideas from it. I hope you find it helpful.

          Assuming an anonymous network, create "virtual countries" with laws of their own. You create an anonymous virtual identity. That virtual identity can be a citizen of a virtual country. By being a citizen, you gain access to the resources of the county. (Bandwidth, access controls, distributed content, etc.) This makes virtual citizenship more of a choice matter, than a "That's where I happen to live" matter.

          Assuming some kind of enforcement mechanism for the laws, and access treaties, you can develop a nice system. Virtual Country A has laws against spam. Virtual Country A agrees to exchange traffic with Virtual Country B, as long as Virtual Country B doesn't send any spam to Virtual Country A. You've got a nice trust system. A Virtual Country is responsible for the actions of its citizens, and thusly has a collective bargaining strength.

          You also can create Virtual Countries with strong Intellectial Property laws, and enforce that with treaties. If a country wants to ignore IP, then they lose access to the websites of that country that enforces IP with treaties.

          And you'd be able to enforce things like your "emergency broadcast system" service. inside a specific virtual country (and, again, by treaties, if necessary.)

          I haven't gotten into the punishment for breaking laws yet. All I can think of is rescinding citizenship. This, obviously, doesn't provide enough granularity. And creating a new identity is also a rather difficult problem.
          • Routing itself can update automatically to a certain extent though. Open up a new routing node somewhere, and soon the routing tables propagate, right?

            When you say there are problems, you mean with the actual allocation though (new node gets 10.45.67.x). Can't we make it more or less "whichever subnet is unused, you get" ? We'd have to somehow avoid a goldrush, but since everyone obviously couldn't be trusted off the bat to run a routing node, maybe that's the avenue you'd take.

            Another point, while I think of it. We'll have to allocate subnets randomly from the IP range, or else risk giving people an idea how big it has grown. For instance, if the feds happen to snoop on 10.0.3.x by chance, I don't want them to be able to know they're really close to the first subnet (to the central authority, too) just by how low it is.

            As for social policy, what I meant somewhat overlaps your thinking... but I'd hesitate to recreate the entire concept of "nation" in a virtual space. It's yet another thing, that maybe we should leave behind, if we can. Or, a slightly different perspective would say that the entire network is a single nation, as it should be in meatspace.

            I enjoy hearing your thoughts though. Makes me feel good to think that even if I weren't successful with this on my own, someone else may recreate the idea on their own. I'm a bit scared we may all need such a network before too long...
            • I think it's only a matter of time until real world laws become too large a burden for the internet to bear, and it needs to declare independence. (I'm anthropomorphizing a bit here, but still.) That said, we can hack around it. We can use technology in such a manner as to make real world laws irrelevant. And if we do that, we need to have some type of social controls.

              As there is no way that everyone will agree as to what social controls are necessary, some may say none. Some may say IP protection. Some may say strong copyrights, but no patents. Some may say no spam and no hate speech. Some - no bulk email, but completely free speech otherwise. etc.

              People disagree. And rather than have them try to enforce their views on the whole of the network, they should have options. We don't need to support them. We don't need to share our bandwidth or disk space or data with them. But we should at least give them freedom to try it on their own. And rather than fragmenting into a dozen incompatible, disconnected networks, we should have some social agreements as to who we share our (data|bandwidth|disk space) with.

              I think that sums up that point pretty well, and I'm not sure what more can be said.

              On to the technical side.

              Please excuse the rough edges, this is fresh off the brain.

              If we allow anyone to register an IP or subnet or whatever, (let's call it a routing token), then we need some method of preventing people from registering a routing token that is already taken. Central authorities are great at this. Central authorities are also a single point of failure. Routing without a CA is a bit like the dining philosophers problem.

              Also, in order to make sure that each hop crosses national borders, we need some kind of way of checking national location. It's a good idea, but seems difficult to implement without leaking information to someone. With a CA, it's trivial to implement, but also trivial to bypass. Find the CA, and get a court order breaking the privacy of the CA.

              Without a CA, assume an initiating node, and a receiving node. The initiating node is the client, the other the server. (It's not exactly perfect use of the words, but they fit well enough.) We'll have to have standardized ways of expressing countries. That's an implementation detail.

              Anyway, both the client and the server have a secret (again, the country). They want to check if the secrets match. Neither the client nor the server can trust the other one. The client can probably trust the server a bit more than the server can trust the client, as the client initiated the connection. Given how easy it would be to brute-force guess the country, we'll have a hard time coming up with a secure algo here.
              Example attack to demonstrate my point: Assume that there are 500 different countries. Assume the attacker has 500 clients. Attacker makes 500 attempts (over time) to connect to the server, each time inputting a new country of origin.

              Very hard to protect against, but not impossible. We just need to create a very stable network. One where the attacker doesn't get a chance to make 500 connection attempts.

              Discovery also presents a problem. How do we discover a routing node to connect to? Assuming we broadcast a packet that states our country and that we're looking for a routing node. oops, now everyone knows our country, and that we're participating. Broadcast a datagram that says we're looking for a node to connect to. Everyone knows we're participating, but not our country. But in this process, we discover everyone who is participating. Then we're clear to attack all participants in the country. Limit the broadcast distance significantly, and things get a bit better.

              Alternately, have a tree structure, where each node decides how much they want to participate. Have some kind of automated election process, where a well functioning node that's been up for a while gets elected upward along the tree. This should minimize disturbances. Net splits would still happen though. But the basic idea would be to stabilize the top of the tree as much as possible, and when someone attempts to start a new node, the request would flit along the bottom of the tree, until it encountered an empty position Have some kind of balanced tree type structure. If someone drops out, and stops participating, they need to rejoin at the bottom, as other nodes would get promoted to take their spot.

              The tree won't work, but the concept might work if a proper structure was designed.

              OK, brain is now drained again. And I'm enjoying this discussion too. Getting the ideas out there, and refining them in the same step. And it is really sad and disenheartening that we would need this. That we need to code our way around stupid laws.
              • Country exchange I haven't figured out. But routing discovery shouldn't be a problem

                Imagine we get the following network setup, 5 nodes in a simple chain.

                A - B - C - D - E

                All have non-conflicting subnets, and all are routing to each other, though none know anything about any of the others unless they connect directly. F comes along, wants to connect to E. He picks an unused subnet. D knows nothing of F, all it is aware of, is that a new subnet appeared, and that E claims to know how to get packets to it.

                My somewhat amateurish understanding of how various routing protocols work, says it can already work like this. D doesn't have to know the country, or anything else, just that E claims to know how to get packets to a new subnet. Then D tells C the same thing, who tells B. That's the easy part.

                But assuming the script kiddies will consider this too much work for what little mayhem they can cause, why can't we have be a simple little website, that lists what subnets aren't taken. When E and F are negotiating to let F become a new node (this is negot. between people, not computers), E can do his homework, find a suitably random, unused subnet, and tell F to use it. E may not even know where is located. Only that node itself, and it's immediate neighbors would be able to rat it out, as a CA. Thus, once the network grows, we can stop worrying they'll have an easy time tracking down the CA.

                But even more so. Once the network grows, why couldn't non-neighbor nodes voluntarily start mirroring this website/database? Even though the authorities could stumble upon the original CA and take it out, by that time its too late. To make it easy for users to find a CA without actually knowing anything else, we could play a few DNS tricks to roundrobin through all the IP addresses. If you try it, and they've been knocked out, requery and you get a new IP. The CA mirrors can only grow to a point, but even 4 or 5 CA mirrors randomly distribute through the network, who know nothing other than the 10.x IPs of the others... that would be hard to de-nut. Especially with an emergency broadcast service, that let people know a mirror has just went down. Within an hour, another random node might have replaced it.

                Of course, this is still vulnerable to assholes trying to mess it up intentionally. But those are gonna be hard to beat no matter what.

                As for country discovery, that's not a problem. Say I'm on the regular internet in a channel, and I make friends with someone in Peru. After a few months, it becomes obvious he should be invited, and I let him on as a user. Connected directly to my routing node. Well, a few more months pass, and he has shown himself to be capable, so I offer to let him set up a node himself. Instead of a single IP, he gets a block of them. I know who he is, maybe even enough to discover his real name with a little research. But that's why he's across the border! Even if I rat him out, there is no way to serve a warrant on him, or vice versa. The only thing he has to do, is add a routing node onto his end, but that's his business. He should know enough to never even give me clues whom he might let connect, nor to let someone else from Peru to connect to him (this is true for routing nodes, I'm not sure if it has to be so careful for plain users).

                The only thing left, is to decide what these "rules" are, so I can teach them to him well enough for him to teach to someone else.
                • I've been thinking about this, and consider the following. A normal IP network, similar to the internet. The CA assigns IPs in a similar manner to ARIN, but does not disclose the owners of the IPs. There is no such thing as reverse lookup, and traceroute type mechanisms are disabled.

                  I think this network would fit your spec pretty well. A country would have to query a significant number of nodes to find the location of an IP. I removed the "over national borders" requirement, as that can be implemented via wetware. (human social interaction)

                  And even today, you can chain a number of open HTTP proxies (for example) together, crossing international borders, and be near impossible to trace.


                  The other thought I had was to implement a TCP/IP stack for the major OSes, and link it to your anonymizing network, and have the connection come out of the anonymizing network in a somewhat consistent manner.

                  [CLIENT] --> { ANONYMIZING NETWORK } --> [SERVER]
                  but using winsock and a TCP/IP stack to make it transparent to the end user.
    • And it will exist the way you like it until it becomes noticed. I don't think the politicians have screwed it up as much as the business people have. The politicians didn't wake up one morning and say lets fuck with the internet. Business people on the otherhand did.
      • Agreed on that.

        However, even after being noticed, I think this network could survive. It's all a matter of designing it in such a way that they'd have to put incredibly massive effort to shut it down. As in rescinding constitutional ammendments fulltime.
    • People seem to think that geeks are diferent and the fact that they know how to play with technology absolves them of responsibiity for their actions. I don't get

      People seem to think that clever tech tricks will keep them ahead of politicians they don't like. I don't get it. All it will do is encourage draconian laws, like mandatory digital tags, mandatory hardware controls, and inspection and approval of code and code revisons before use on any network-accessible computer.

      No government is ever going to allow something as important and, potentially, threatening, as the Internet to exist in uncontrolled anarchy. Radio and TV techs aren't allowed how to run that industry. Neither will IT techs. Sorry.
      • Whether or not their is truth in your opinion, I'm sorry I can't agree with anything you believe.

        If the politicians and those in power have to destroy everything that is good, beautiful, or clever, to make themselves feel more powerful is that my fault?

        If I try to escape from all that, is that my fault?

        Blame those who've fucked everything up from time immemorial. Not those doing their best to fix it.
  • I myself have lamented the change of the net. Having only been online for 12 years, I haven't even come close to some of the real old timers. However, the old BBS's, pre-spam Usenet, email, talk, ytalk, and the dread of all the freshman getting online each year...aaaw, the good old days.

    One of the biggest problems though is that we now have most people with access to wireless cards and such that I bet you'd see a 1:50 contributor to luser ratio. *sighs*

  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @06:13PM (#4130276) Homepage Journal
    Free love, free speech and free downloads, man... Just we'll forget to bention that back in the good ol' days the internet was primarily used as a DoD line of communication that couldn't be interupted. Yeah, fight the power!
    • Heh. Interestingly enough a lot of computer scientists who wouldn't work for the DoD because they were against the war in Vietnam wound up working for them indirectly at places like Xerox PARC. Great stuff on the "counterculture" influence on the computer era in Roszak's book _The Cult of Information_. Also here's the RAND paper [] that started it all, if anyone is interested.
  • It doesn't have to be that way. Any sufficiently planned architecture could deter or eliminate this kind of activity, while still being completely usable as a learning tool. Yes, it would require an *involved* admin, who stays on top of things, but nothing a monkey with perl couldn't handle. Heck, spend the time to identify who your "trusted" users are, and teach them a thing or two about *running* a system, instead of just *using* it. Then not only do you have some people to share the work, but you've got another competitor in your job market. Oh wait, that's bad...
  • Sure... its an admirable goal. And it might be acheivable if it remains a more-or-less private undertaking. But once you include the public, you have to deal with the same problem the Internet at large deals with today... people.

    The Internet has always been about people, not technology. Sure, the tech is cool. But what makes it the killer app is the ability to communicate with others. Look at every Internet application that excels and you'll find it facilitates communication (whether it be 'I'm better at this game than you are', 'I know how to do this', 'I like it when people watch', or 'check out this song I like') - or at least is geared to fool people in to believing so (yea, right... "horny coed exibitionists waiting for YOU" indeed). Internet applications that crashed failed to grasp this (push technology - do we need another big business broadcast service? Apparently not.).

    The boon and bane to this is it requires people. In theory, the more people the better - akin to the idea that the value of a network increases exponentially with its size. But then... the more people you add, the more wide their beliefs. The more likely you'll find people who do not have the same values... and do not value the network itself. The more likely you will find people who will sacrifice the network for some short-term personal goal.

    In other words, the Internet changed when there were more people online who thought the movie Hackers was a "cool movie" and not a "comedy." Until these people change, or you manage to filter them out or exclude them from your network, the Internet of yesteryear will not emerge.

    Shell access or not.
    • That is true. Still, some things haven't changed. How many private FTP servers that your friends run do you know about? If you have a small personal site, how many "random" people actually hit it? Most people have only a few sites they visit regularly, and if you exclude the big commercial sites the smaller ones are probably run by people that they know in some way to begin with, or they were reccomended by a friend. The original small, close-knit user base is being replaced by thousands and thousands of other small groups of user who have common interest... but those sites almost never make CNN and don't buy pop-up ads on AOL. There isn't ONE web community anymore, granted. There are lots of small splinter groups. If you try to include everyone in your circle of friends and give anyone and everyone access, congratulations! You just created another web (the way it is now).
  • We do something similar. We give out free "Shell" account, but rather than using *nix, we use OpenVMS. The idea is two fold. If gives people a place to play, and use a different operating system. OpenVMS is often considered one of the most secure operating sysems around. :) IF interested, check out, or you can even telnet to or
    • A friend has set up a VMS system at the end of a DSL line. Its primary purpose is to run "Notes". No, not Lotus Notes, VMSnotes a.k.a. DECnotes.

      We all used to "note" at DEC back in the early 80's. It's still active (somewhat) at Compaq and then HP.

      There were topics on everything from sex to pistols :). I used to run a Singles notesfile and that got alot of couples hooked up. I had friends that met "over email and notes" and were married in '85.

      It only took about 10 minutes for all the keypad commands to come back to me. It's great to have it back and with no HR department to worry about, we can say what we want.

  • Back in the good old days, remember when....

    * 99% of the data transmitted on the net was useful informtion; now, 99% of the data transmitted on the net is porn, spam, advertisements, and useless graphics. Pretty soon, even Google won't be able to find a website that actually has text on it.

    * You didn't get 1000 e-mails a day telling you about the latest greatest super-duper penis enlargment plan where you could make your penis larger just by "jilking it".

    * You didn't get 1000 spam messages a day telling you about easy quick idiot-proof ways to make a million dollars in a few hours.

    * The evil forces of the dark side, the raiders of the lost net, the proprietary corporate IP mongers, hadn't yet started bending the internet to their perverse Orwellian ideal of perfect control?

    * News groups and message boards actually had mostly intelligent conversaion, as opposed to being flooded with, "YOU SUCK, I'M RIGHT YOU STUPID ****, EAT **** AND DIE".

    * Al Gore was busy inventing the net.
    • by mwillems ( 266506 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @07:34PM (#4130719) Homepage not recognising that the useful 1% of a godzillion megapieces of information is a hell of a lot more useful than 99% of 100 www pages.

      I, too, grew up in the early days and I recall them well. No noise, you could use newsgroups, and receiving email was a real event. Archie, remember archie? And Gopher? Veronica?

      BUT... in those days I could not do a tenth of what I can do now. Not one hundredth. Use google. Use google groups (nee dejanews). Look up song lyrics. Bank online. Download videos. Find any company I do business with. And P2P (ha ha... 1200 bps modems, remember those??)

      So, the noise is despiccable but do realise it is a side phenomenon of the great cyberworld we are creating.

      Give me today's 'net anytime!
  • I don't remember the first days of the internet as it sprung up while I was on hiatus from computers enjoying my first few years of college. People have a lot of memories of their youths that seem to shine brighter as time goes on. Mine was of BBS's, I spent many years on line in a world that I like to think of as the proto-internet. Multilined BBS's that were in reality small fiefdoms. A network of relay mail systems called Fidonet, and single-lined systems that were run by hobbyists who were sincerely interested in their area. It was nice. The computers of the day were nice. Amigas, Ataris, and even some PC's had more character than they've had in years, or maybe they didn't and it was just how I remember it. I recently tracked down some telnet'able BBS's and I was in disbelief that I used to love that crap. My point is this, you can't go back. Just as the internet killed the Bulletin Board System, so will something, someday kill the internet. I remember being on a MajorBBS system chatting with the Sysop about this new thing called the Internet, and that we were all dynosaurs. I dismissed it at the time. "What could be better than this?" I thought. Well sometimes, or most of the time, progress isn't better. Yes, radio exercised the imagination more than TV, Yes, they don't make things like they used to, but that's progress. And yes free shell accounts are nice, but so what does that change? Freedom of speech? The internet didn't invent that, create a web page, you can say what you want, you can even say libelous things, but be prepared to face the consequences because the people you're libeling have rights too.
    • Everything has changed, and not always for the better. On the other hand, /. is open to the public, isn't it? Yeah, you get goatse trolls and whatnot, but they're easy to ignore, and they're entertaining each other (not sure if that low of a role is really needed in a web "food chain, but whatever. Maybe they'll grow up). Pick what you want to see, then do what you need to do. I know that the analogy is kind of weak for the web in general, but how often do you visit,,, etc? To me, large commercial sites are like watching a half hour tv show and seeing 5 minutes of content with the rest commercial. So I don't. I don't browse /. at -1, either. Ignorant users aren't a threat to the web as we know it, really. Politicians (and the companies that pay them) are.
  • The internet went wrong as soon as someone started regulating it. And no this isn't a support anarchy post, give me a moment to explain.

    The internet, as it was envisioned in it's earliest forms (by the government no less) was for open and free exchange of information across a series of service. Anyone who needed access had it. As it expanded out and fell into control of the early hacker/geek community it moved from free flow of information between those in he know to free flow to anyone who had the equipment and the skills to get to it. The internet of the time was a self regulating society. People who wer obnoxious were ignored and shunned, malicious people were fought against by the rigtous vigalantes of the net. Sort of a wild west.

    Soon however, the greedy people of the world realized that if they had information that no one else had, and restricted acess, they could control people. If they could control them, they could make money off of them. So they began businesses. This shifted the balance of power away from individuals and toward businesses and corporations with money. Feeling their power threatened, individuals with skills fought back. They were labled hackers, and unfortunately as with any group, it's the fanatics that generate the stereo-type and hackers bacme known as vicious online criminals.

    So the businesses did what any business in danger of colapse would do. They complained to the government, and the government steped in. They started regulateing the internet, laws, rules, they took control of the system, the names, the places and it fell inot corporate control, with the lone individuals shut out and shunned. The individual became a criminal, suspect to doing crimes with every move he made.

    And so the internet fell into the state it's in now, a pathetic mix of advertisements (because the businesses found you really can't make money off freedom, corporate watchdogs (because everyone online is out to destroy Free America ), porn (because as a society in the real world we have severe issues with sexualitycreatingan extreme and perverted attraction to it), and pathetic wannabie skript kiddies because all the real Hackers:

    a) Are in jail
    b) Have a real job as a security consultant
    c) Gave up
    d) Have become greedy
    e) Fight on, bu tare shunned as extermists and lumped with scriptkiddies, pirates and warez makers.
    f) Have focused on open source in the hopes of creating a free society within the controled one.

    Though I wish him luck and will support him as best I can, I feel that unless he does everything in his power to prevent restrictions, he will merely see the same thing that the internet, hotline and p2p has seen. Freedom threatens buiness models of old, freedom must be destroyed.

    Idealistic? Skewed viewpoint? Glorifying overy optimistic ideals? Maybe, but without ideals you have no purpose.
  • Compared to some of the slashdot people, I'm new to the internet. I started back in '95 (however before that I had been reading in a popular tech magazin about something new called "the world wide web"). It was a good time, using First Class as the email client (as well as the local network client), and Netscape 1.0 as the browser. No spam, no popups... Just a lot of informative and clean websites. Email and surfing the web was fun, now a big part of it is a big battle against spyware and spam :( I'm worried that new internet users will be scared away when they see their mailbox overloaded with spam, when they see Usenet packed with similar stupid spam, when their computers are infested with spyware and intrusive ad banners. Maybe new novice users will think that it's not worth it, and they wont use internet once they see the bad sides of it.

The absent ones are always at fault.