Re: Munchkins

From: Danny O'Brien (
Date: Thu Mar 08 2001 - 23:39:00 PST

On Fri, Mar 09, 2001 at 07:45:10AM +0100, wrote:
> Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> >
> > So, there's been a lot of revisiting on the list nowadays. I
> > just wanted to revisit Munchkins. Something in COTD (below) sparked
> So instead of the whole enchilada (ultrabroadband, geodetic routing and the
> network protocol to support it, local positioning, traffic remixers, agoric
> resource accounting, microcash, a massively parallel planetwide distributed
> architecture to publish and compute, and a billion cool things we don't have
> even names for, since we haven't yet thought of doing them), we'll get some
> braindead dumbed-down idiotic thing like Napster.
> And everyone will love it. For about a month. And then when you attempt to
> build and deploy TheGleamingOrb(tm) they'll laugh in your face and say
> "Dude, that's sooo last month. You still haven't heard it sucks?"

But people can hack together the most amazing solutions based on the shittiest
beginnings. *That's* biped evolution.

The reason I pushed out the MobileMesh protocol onto FoRK last week, is
because you're going to start seeing people rolling out hacked-together 802.11
community networks in the next month or so. All of the solutions are
improvised, none will be perfect. Something will prevail. Physically, 802.11
is the barest minimum you need to get munchkinesque system working.
Prices of units are collapsing: to the OS, it looks like Ethernet. It does
Ad Hoc peer to peer out of the box. People can see the advantages -
particularly in the recent post-Napster climate, and the slow crawlout
of 4G wireless and broadband, of building a local decentralised Net.

I'm trying to work out given that what the minimal system is that can grow
into the system you're describing. If you want perfection, you're fucked:
but you can slip in some values now that will at least let people bolt on
better solutions in the future. Not only is that a better solution than
whining about how no-one is using your Godly perfect crypto-agora masterwerk
(available RSN), but given that you don't know the future either, it may even
turn out to be more flexible.

So, say you've got 500 people, in a bunch of cities around the world, who are
interested in growing a decentralised, mesh-style network. They're going to do
it, whether you like it or not, and far too soon. Even if it's a sucky system
they build - like Gnutella, say - they'll be people trying to fix it for
an eternity, and doing better than you could possibly imagine. What would
you set them up with? What's the minimum that you can get away with? That you
can put together in a few weeks?

I figure it's a downloadable userland dynamic routing system for Linux, with a
clear possibility of being ported to Windows. That gets them wireless
routing (what they want). On top of that, each client generates a
keypair, and dumps the public key somewhere public. You associate the key and
the client to an allocated 10.*.*.* IP address, just so you can allow some
sort of mapping to existing TCP/IP. You put in a MOTD feature, so
people know when there's something better to upgrade to. You hack the routing
protocol to allow dispersal of the location of these few elements of central
servers (the MOTD, the IP allocating server), so everyone's not fucked when
the central servers move. You send this out, then work on the better,
decentralised version.

I'm not a munchkin expert, so I don't know whether that's enough, or too
little. But I do know that at every cypherpunk meeting, here at CFP, at MIT,
on forums and at hacker meets, I hear 802.11 mentioned about once every
fifteen minutes. Something's going to blow.

What would be your minimum roll-out?


> GAR.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:13:43 PDT