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[liberationtech] Modern FIDONET for net disable countries?

michael gurstein gurstein at
Mon Dec 31 07:47:20 PST 2012


I'm not sure but this might be of some relevance here
(you should substitute a helicopter for the motorcycle and reindeer and
reindeer herders for rural dwellers in India or Pakistan... 

(The underlying technology is called DTN-Delay Tolerant Networking.
(technical contact Maria Uden Maria.Uden at

Hope this helps.

-----Original Message-----
From: liberationtech-bounces at
[mailto:liberationtech-bounces at] On Behalf Of Julian
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2012 7:09 AM
To: liberationtech
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Modern FIDONET for net disable countries?

..on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 09:38:08AM -0500, Griffin Boyce wrote:
>   At HOPE this summer I talked a bit about a wireless mesh concept 
> that would allow people to communicate without internet access or phone
>  The real problem with a BBS is that it's trivial to take down.  In 
> most countries, one call to the phone company can suspend a phone 
> number 'pending investigation.'
>   Right now your best bet for the features you want would probably be 
> Briar [1]. If your community's needs are closer to chat and 
> file-sharing, then PirateBox is a promising solution [2]. 
> (file-sharing ex: files that users wanted everyone to have, or wanted to
be published online).
>   Your concept could be tricky for more than a handful of users, since 
> everything is manual.
> [1]
> [2]
> Best,
> Griffin Boyce
> On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 3:05 PM, Peter Fein <pete at> wrote:
> > I & some other Telecomix agents have discussed using a local Usenet 
> > (NNTP) for exactly this purpose a few times since Tahrir. Run it off 
> > a liveCD + adhoc wifi or OpenWRT, with web gateway interface (so 
> > random users can participate without needing to install software). 
> > Long distance backhaul by dialup modem or motorcycle courier w/ USB 
> > stick. Rather than trying to build in centralized security/identity, 
> > force everything to anonymity/pseudonymity (the 4chan model).

Some years ago I read an article about an 'offline' mail transport system
used (in India or Pakistan IIRC) that did precisely this. A motorcycle rider
wearing an access point with 1W boosted antenna and a mass storage device
pulls up outside a house in a rural area and waits a designated period while
locals associate with the AP and pull and push email. Email pushed is later
delivered when the driver is in contact with an Internet gateway (probably
at the office).
Regrettfully I can't find the article now.

It would be trivial to do this with OpenWRT. You could even serve a simple
webmail interface built atop lighttpd alongside cached news sites and other
services for longer sessions. Many cheap WiFi routers these days run OpenWRT
just fine, take 5v input and run at a very low amperage. Some have a USB
port that supports USB OTG (for mass storage devices like USB sticks, SSDs,

We work a lot with OpenWRT and various SoC wireless router hardware here in
Berlin at Studio Weise7.  This would be a project we'd be very happy to host
and 'sprint' over a weekend.  Meshing is something we're very interested in

Incidentally I may be developing a project for the city of Derry in Ireland
that deploys low cost weather-proof, solar-powered offline access points (as
a delivery platform for cultural material). If it goes ahead I will be happy
to contribute all my findings, schematics and firmware.


Julian Oliver
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