Frequently Asked Questions

What is Freenet?

Freenet is a non-profit initiative dedicated to the development and propagation of technologies for open and democratic information distribution over the Internet. It advocates for unrestricted exchange of intellectual, scientific, literary, social, artistic, creative, human rights, and cultural expressions, free from interference by state, private, or special interests

What is the project's history?

Freenet began as a student project by Ian Clarke at the University of Edinburgh in 1999. Clarke developed "Fred," a decentralized system for information storage and retrieval, offering users the ability to publish or retrieve information anonymously.

In 2019, Clarke began work on a successor to Fred, called "Locutus." This project, a redesign from the ground up, incorporated lessons learned from Fred's development and operation, and adapted to today's challenges. In 2023, Clarke announced the separation of Fred into its own project, allowing him and the non-profit to focus on Locutus, re-branded as "Freenet 2023" or simply "Freenet."‚Äč

How are Locutus and Fred different?

Locutus and Fred have several key differences:

  • Functionality: Fred is analogous to a decentralized hard drive, while Locutus is analogous to a full decentralized computer.

  • Real-time Interaction: In Locutus users can subscribe to data and be notified immediately if it changes. This is essential for systems like instant messaging or group chat.

  • Programming Language: Unlike Fred, which was developed in Java, Locutus is implemented in Rust. This allows Locutus to be much more efficient, while integrating better into a wide variety of platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, MacOS, etc).

  • Transparent: Locutus is a drop-in replacement for the world wide web, and will be just as easy to use

  • Anonymity: Fred was designed with a strong focus on anonymity. In contrast, Locutus does not offer built-in anonymity, but it is designed to allow anonymizing systems to be layered on top if required.

What is Freenet 2023 or Locutus?

Freenet 2023, also known as Locutus, is a fully decentralized, peer-to-peer network and a drop-in replacement for the world wide web. It operates as a global shared computer, providing a platform for sophisticated decentralized software systems. Locutus allows developers to create decentralized alternatives to centralized services, including messaging, social media, email, and e-commerce. It's designed for simplicity and flexibility and can be used seamlessly through your web browser. The platform's user-friendly decentralized applications are scalable, interoperable, and secured with cryptography.

What are the key components of Freenet 2023's architecture?

Delegates, contracts, and user interfaces (UIs) each serve distinct roles in the Freenet ecosystem. Contracts control public data, or "shared state". Delegates act as the user's agent and can store private data on the user's behalf, while UIs provide an interface between these and the user through a web browser. See the user manual for more detail.

What is the status of Freenet 2023?

As of May 2023 we are working towards an initial prototype, see our roadmap for details. You can experiment with building a decentralized app to test on your own computer but the peer-to-peer network will not be established until the initial prototype is ready.