Freenet is a key-based distributed filesystem with the goal of providing anonymous access and publishing of information. Ian Clarke, Freenet's creator, began the project with the goal of preserving free speech on the Internet and to prevent censorship.
Since the Freenet key-space storage mechanism does not focus on any one content type, including what is legally considered intellectual property, any sort of information can be stored in the system - images, movies, HTML, and so on. Already there are many "Freesites" existing inside the network, which can be browsed using the included FProxy program through your web browser of choice.
The current Freenet implementation is Java based and runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, and Solaris. Compared to the majority of peer-to-peer applications, Freenet is very robust but can sometimes be intimidating to the average user. Freenet is also versatile enough to support many other applications running through it. Frost and FMB are two messaging and file sharing solutions, supporting anonymous communications.
Freenet is substantially different than other P2P applications since users do not simply share and download files. Since Freenet is a distributed datastore, files must be published (or inserted) into the system rather than simply choosing folders to share. Inserts are broadcast from node to node, and each Freenet server that the data passes through may hold on to a copy of the data for redundancy purposes.
With freenet files are routed through random users producing a hive of downloads. Freenet attempts to give a sending node plausible deniability by hiding the true contents of a file from the sending node. Freenet nodes may also drop pieces of information that are least-requested - ensuring that the most popular documents stay on the network.
NGRouting is a name given by Ian Clarke to describe new routing logic which is meant to move away from the "voodoo" and magic numbers of the current routing code. As of 2 July 2003, NGRouting code is in the experimental cvs branch.
- Freenet is not without its detractors: Freenet Frequently Ignored Questions - by Jeff Darcy
- This article gives a good overview of Freenet from a legal perspective: The Digital Evolution: Freenet and the Future of Copyright on the Internet - by Ryan Roemer
- There are also a Freenet ``workalike programs called ENTROPY and GNUnet, which are written in C instead of Java.
- http://www.f-proxy.net provides "inproxy" for Freenet, allowing access from the public internet