FreeWeb, Freenet, free .free TLD(s)
Date: Sunday April 22 2001, @02:03PM
Topic: Alternate Roots

Slashdot has a story on a "user-friendly" client application for the anonymized P2P file-sharing Freenet system, called FreeWeb. Among its features: "a secure, anonymous means of registering your FreeWeb domains, totally within Freenet."

According to the FreeWeb site, the software

allows you to visit and create websites on the ".free" internet domain. The '.free' domain does not exist in the mainstream internet - it is a 'synthetic domain' which makes use of the revolutionary Freenet software, transforming web requests into Freenet keys, and vice versa.

This makes it sound as though this ".free" TLD is available only to other users of the FreeWeb client within the Freenet protocol, but evidently that's not the case:

FreeWeb Agent [one of FreeWeb's two component applications] is a small proxy server which allows you to surf FreeWeb sites on any browser. It forwards mainstream web requests like out to the mainstream web, but directs FreeWeb requests (to sites on the .free domain) to Freenet.

Whereupon FreeWeb "translates these [requests] into Freenet key requests, and retrieves the necessary keys from Freenet." What's this about keys? FreeNet uses cryptography (it is claimed) to make connections secure and anonymous and to make published materials untraceable -- hence the keys. The FreeNet (not FreeWeb) FAQ says:

The "Freenet" project aims to create an information publication system similar to the World Wide Web (but with several major advantages over it) based on the protocol described in Ian Clarke's paper A Distributed Decentralised Information Storage and Retrieval System. Information can be inserted into the system associated with a "key" (normally some form of description of the information such as "/text/philosophy/sun tzu/the art of war"). Later anyone else can retrieve the information using the appropriate key. In this respect it is a little like the World Wide Web which requires a URL to retrieve a particular document.

Unlike the Web, information on Freenet is not stored at fixed locations or subject to any kind of centralized control. Freenet is a single world-wide information store that stores, caches, and distributes the information based on demand. This allows Freenet to be more efficient at some functions than the Web, and also allows information to be published and read without fear of censorship because individual documents cannot be traced to their source or even to where they are physically stored. To participate in this system users will simply need to run a piece of server software on their computer, and optionally use a client program to insert and remove information from the system. Anyone can write a client (or indeed a server) program for Freenet, which is based on an open protocol.

Good luck...

FreeWeb is Windows-only for now, but it may work under WINE, the "compatibility layer" for UNIX and Linux. The developers say they will open-source it.

Of course, there already is an alternative ".free" TLD maintained by

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Re: FreeWeb, Freenet, free .free TLD(s)
by fnord ( on Sunday April 22 2001, @10:06PM (#556)
User #2810 Info
There is also an alternative .free pseudo TLD maintained by

Speaking of which, there's another attempt to do what appears to be along the lines of, without a plugin at bindzero, their site is short on details, and having the plugin installed for the purposes of analysis is enough for me at one time, though it will be interesting to see which .free comes up in future or if I'm left with a smoking hole on my desk. Bindzero does claim that: "Our Partners: ALL Internet Consumers!", something ICANN could look into.

The so-called 'alt roots' seem to be popping up like mushrooms after a rain, or rather after an extended and ongoing ICANN new gTLD dry spell. While the DNSO GA, here for example, discusses whether to discuss them. If those paying attention can't tell the players without a scorecard, pity most "internet consumers". Along with "pre-registrations" for pending ICANN gTLDs, which range from misleading to outright scams, ICANN must bear part of the responsibility for all the murkiness flooding in to fill the hole where transparency was supposed to fit. -g

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