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Retroshare: friends not included! If you want to know what this application can do, you'll need some friends! Or you can be like me, forever alone, and set up two computers and try it out. After about 30 minutes of messing around, here are some preliminary impressions I had.
The certificates is probably the hardest thing to manage with Retroshare. Exchanging them was easy, using online expiring paste services (I used Hastebin and Ghostbin for this), although any method you can think of to send a block of text will work. Signing and validating the certificates, however, wasn't really clear to me. It could be just me, since this was my first time managing certificates like this.
The design of the GUI is quite nice, although first-time users may feel overwhelmed by the options. It takes a bit of browsing and prodding around to learn everything Retroshare has to offer. It allows users to chat to every single node they are connected to, chat with only select nodes, create alternate identities, send email-esque messages to certain nodes, and share a folder of files with certain nodes (shared directory), among other things.
I didn't get the chance to try out the "Channels", "Forum", and "Links" tabs yet, unfortunately, but I have a hunch that those tabs would be very useful for those who like sharing things with their friends.
Maybe Retroshare's speed was an issue of the past, because I haven't had any serious connectivity issues trying to contact other nodes...then again, it could be because the nodes I connected to were nearby to begin with. I don't really know how well it works for long distance nodes.
Overall, I find Retroshare to be a viable platform for connecting to friends in a decentralized way.
EDIT [April 2]: I finally convinced one of my friends to try it out, even if just for a moment. I had some trouble connecting to their computer at first, but it turned out it was because he was on an unsecured network. After resolving that, our computers found each other without a hitch.
After doing some more exploration of the features, I conclude that Retroshare is well-suited to being a social media platform for very close friends, without a server in between.
- Direct Messages: the usual talking one-on-one with someone, just like text messaging that we do a lot these days.
- Broadcast Chat and Chat Rooms: I rarely used IRC in the past but I think this feature is similar to that.
- Messages/Mail: e-mail system. Useful if you want to have slower, more information packed conversations with others or send files that won't expire, as chat messages get cleared out every so often. As far as I can tell, e-mail messages don't get cleared out.
- Channels: It's like a personal soapbox. The creator of a channel can post some media (audio, video, text, whatever) and subscribers can view and comment on it (if commenting is enabled). Posts can be deleted after a set amount of time (according to the retroshare documentation on readthedocs.io, 4 months) or can be kept indefinitely (I think this may have ramifications if someone wants to totally delete something from a channel but another node chooses to hold on to it indefinitely. Gotta argue with that node about it.)
- Forums: Just like a normal forum, but decentralized. Forum posts are deleted after 12 months, according to the documentation. You can start threads, reply to people, and attach files as well.
- Files: I know very little about file sharing using this method, but I assume that if you are familiar with the BitTorrent network and/or do a lot of peer-to-peer file sharing, you will feel right at home with this feature.
- Links: Not really sure what differentiates this from the other methods, other than its purported focus on sharing links. I suppose the focus on links makes sharing those URLS much cleaner than using a forum to do the same thing.
So, to summarize all these different methods of communication:
Direct chat for one-on-one. Quickest.
Chat lobbies for IRC-like experience.
E-mail for more permanent messages and file sharing.
Forums for general discussion about any topic.
Files for anyone who likes to do peer-to-peer file transfers.
Channels for your own personal soapbox.
Links to share interesting websites or URLs.
After doing some more reading I've heard stories of people whose computer crashed or had a power outage, then after a reboot found Retroshare had lost friend nodes...or something like that. Apparently there are some measures to remedy this but it could use some more work to completely fix.
As for the speed, I got to test it out a bit more. It appears that the speed can vary widely depending on the connection quality of each of the nodes. Chat messages between my two computers was virtually instant, and with my friend had a delay of a second, which in my opinion is pretty good. The other methods, like email and forums, however, are unpredictable in their speed. Forum posts can take a while to show up (fastest I've had between my two computers is about 30 seconds, slowest is 30 minutes). Maybe this is what they call "propagating information through the network"? Then again, if you are looking for quick communication with someone, you should be using the chat function anyways.
[Edited by TerrifiedTyphlosion, April 02]
Positive comment • more than a year ago
security, mail, links cloud, file sharing, broadcast chat, forums, bitcoin plugin, etc
Comment • more than a year ago
General purpose secure communication platform for every task.
Positive comment • 11 months ago
- Can't reach the "masses" with it, only between friends. It will be your own echo chamber. Going public with it is impossible.
- Connects (if it can find friends) very ...very...very slowly.(Takes minutes... if you are lucky)
- Tor&i2p worked ... once or twice...hooray!
- Video call did never work & there are no settings at all for this!
- Nice design, it took a lot of work but that's all nothing more, a software that does not work when you need it... unreliable
Do me a favour: Do not waste your time try Zeronet! Zeronet has a future retroshare has absolutely not.
Negative comment • more than a year ago
CategoriesSocial & Communications • File Sharing • Office & Productivity • Security & Privacy
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