p2pnet Special Feature:- Freedom in Cyber Space? Forget it.
With a dearth of broadband in many areas, ISP-imposed broadband restrictions, more and more malware and spam attacks, Net traffic data logging, high service costs, the lack of competition among local broadband monopolies, and an increasing number of frivolous lawsuits being brought against file sharers by the entertainment and software cartels (with more to come, when other groups get around to it), the Net of today is only a shadow of what it used to be. And things are getting worse. As the Korporate Kommunity Klans use their money and bought-and-paid-for political and law enforcement connections to try to dominate online activity, alternates to ‘this’ Net are becoming vitally important.
During World War II, in France, the maquis, underground resistance, was born to oppose the Nazi occupation forces.
Online, more and more Cyber Maquis are showing up. They’re deeply buried and heavily disguised and in a non-stop cat-and-mouse game, as soon as webmasters get a hint that the KKK may be on the move against them, they move on and set up somewhere else.
But there IS an another way. And it’s called FreeWan, says p2pnet’s William Keeley.
Why does he bother?
I hope to make a significant contribution to technology advancement by promoting and helping with the improvement of free networks, he says. There`s no real reason why people anywhere shouldn`t have access to broadband networking. I want information to flow freely from anyone who wants to provide it to those who want to consume it. This is the essence of being a hacker.
Read on >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
What’s FreeWan? FreeWan is a network of many home-built ad-hoc networks called cells which can be on a specific FreeWan network, on the Net, or on both.
Each cell is like a small community where people share data and information such as video and music in an environment of privacy, unrestricted by bandwidth caps or being forced to pay too much for broadband service. The bare minimum that’s required to set up a FreeWan cell is a router (preferably wireless) and one computer to act as the main server. The main server doesn’t necessarily need to be a very powerful because its main function is to provide a starting point for the exploration of the FreeWan Cell.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
One reason for having a local FreeWan is: individual networks need to overcome upload and download limits associated with traditional broadband internet connections sold by cable and telecom companies. A second reason for this type of network is privacy. A FreeWan cell allows data to be shared between and among computers without endless logging, spying, prying and so on.
And a third reason for a FreeWan Cell is that it allows broadband file sharing for free. Local telephone and cable companies are monopolies which effectively charge whatever they believe that the average customer will pay. In many areas, this price is way too high. FreeWan cells in this kind of area may very well force the local broadband service to compete, thereby lowering broadband and internet service prices.
A fourth, and possibly the most important, reason for building or joining a FreeWan Cell is freedom.
Traditional broadband companies use ;acceptable use policies’ to regulate what people do. With a FreeWan cell, the people who set up and use the cell are the ones who set usage rules, not the Korporate Kommissars.
A fifth reason for FreeWan Cells is: uniform upload and download speeds at a very fast rate. If the infrastructure of a FreeWan Cell can handle 10Mb sec speeds, then that’s the maximum upload/download rate.
A sixth reason for a FreeWan cell is to give broadband to people in areas the traditional providers won’t service.
Pros and cons
Just as there are good reasons to join a FreeWan cell, there can also be disadvantages.
The spread of information between cells can become very slow, although this can be alleviated in many ways, for example, by having some members of the cell connect to the traditional Net. That way, they can trade information with other cells.
Instant messaging between cells is nearly impossible, a disadvantage that’ll be very hard to overcome, at least in the short term. Once FreeWan cells become widespread, it will be possible to coordinate communications between cells and hopefully, one day there’ll be enough cells to form a network that rivals today’s Internet. But until that day, people will have to decide if the advantages of fast information or file sharing make it worthwhile to join a FreeWan Cell.
A second disadvantage to setting up a FreeWan cell is that it takes quite a bit of effort and a certain amount of network knowledge.
Setting up a wireless FreeWan requires basic equipment. My FreeWan cell hardware consists of a desktop computer and a wireless router (Linksys wrt54g). Since I already had my computer, the cost of my network was under $100. I host LimeWire file sharing on my system through which I share hundreds of music tracks and about 80-90 videos. My computer also runs a web server and a domain name server.
When a visitor attaches to my FreeWan cell, for example, and tries to open www.google.com, they bring up a page explaining that they’ve connected to a FreeWan cell and not to the Net. This page explains the concept of FreeWan and offers the same files as those in the LimeWire sharing program. The page also encourages visitors to either upload files they find interesting, or to share their video and music files.
Even though I live in a rural area, I had several visitors on my network last month. Just think of how busy a college FreeWan cell would be. In the town where I work, there’s a FreeWan cell that hosts about 200 vidoes and several gigs of music. I don’t know who set this cell up of if they even call it a FreeWan cell, but I do know they’re implementing the same concept.
I use my laptop to bring files from that cell home to mine. I also upload files to their shared directories. If there were about three or four more FreeWan cells in my area, I could cancel my satellite subscription and not miss a show.
Setting up a cell
If you want to set up a FreeWan cell, there are several things to consider. The first is: how large an area do you want your network to cover? You need to know this so you can choose the antenna and wireless router that’ll provide a enough range. There are all kinds of antennas and wireless router hacks that’ll boost the coverage of your FreeWan cell. But research your country’s laws if you want to stay legal.
Once you’re up and running, you can use a warchalk mark to advertise your cell to local passersby.
The next thing to consider is: what services do you want to provide on the main server? The one service that’s very highly recommended is a DNS or Domain Name Server and a http (web) server so that people connecting to the FreeWan Cell will have a starting point from which to explore the network.
Network domain names that don’t specifically resolve to a local network address should probably point to the main server so potential clients connecting to the FreeWan cell will bring up a predesigned banner page explaining how to navigate the FreeWan cell.
For example, if someone wanders within range of the FreeWan router, connects to the network, and opens the homepage www.google.com, they’ll see a banner page explaining that they’re connected to a FreeWan cell and not to the Net. The banner page can also show what resources are available within the cell. Other services that could be run on the main server include a LimeWire peering program, a ftp server, other peering programs, and maybe even some kind of streaming media server.
Security should also be a concern on on a FreeWan Cell. Long before the Internet was popular, viruses spead by shared disks. An Internet connected computer within a local cell should provide updates to antivirus programs if possible.
Computers within a cell should keep recently uploaded files separate from shared files until a virus scan is performed on the uploaded file. It’s OK to to tranfer the uploaded file to the shared folder after scanning.
Another concern for people within a FreeWan cell is someone piggybacking on their Net connection.
If a cell user is running a connection sharing protocol, network address translation, or a proxy server, they need to secure against unauthorized use. Privacy may also be a concern, depending on the types of information shared. Users should rely on SSL and password protection rather than the WEP security features that are built in to the router. An encrypted web connection (https) that requires a password from a user is pretty hard to break.
With a few hundred dollars, or less, of equipment, and a couple of hours to a couple of days of blood, sweat, and tears, it’s possible to put together one’s own little version of the Internet where the users, and not some Korporate Kommissar or kartel or government, decide how to run things.
The limits on bandwidth are also decided by the equipment installed and the number of users.
But if FreeWan becomes popular enough, it could easily replace the cartel and government controlled internet of today.
Want to see what a Freewan Outpost Cell looks like? Go here.
William Keeley – p2pnet
(If the name seems familiar, you’re right. See the second to last ad on the left, punishing spammers? Think Keeley. He`s been working with computers for more than 25 years, starting with the Commodore PET. His first system was a Timex Sinclair 1000. But he`s also owned a Sinclair 2068, Commodore 128, a Tandy 1000, and home-built 486 machine he used to host http://www.freelink.cx on and about 20 other home-built machines. As far as operating systems are concerned, I`ve run CP/M MSDOS, Windows (almost all flavors), Linux, BSD, SunOS, MacOS, and (Ugh!) SCO Unix, he says. For fun, I enjoy making OS kernel modifications, harrassing spammers, designing networks, and coding programs.”
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