I had only just recently stumbled across this Netsukuku from a different vector. Follow along, as it may illuminate something of where these people are coming from that is understandably easy to miss from this Kuro5hin article and their website.
I was looking into Dyne:Bolic, a LiveCD distribution of Linux.
Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of a LiveCD of Linux. It boots from CD, does hardware recognition, and boots to a ram-drive environment so you can test-drive a linux distribution without touching the hard-drive.
Some projects are taking this in interesting directions, such as for recovery cds and projects like Knoppix STD for your swiss-army-knife network and recovery console on a CD. Other people are working on Disaster-Relief distributions so that your Red Cross folks can network up a bunch of donated PC's to give shelter folks some communications services to friends and family, and to Government and Disaster-relief support web sites in a quick and efficient manner.
Dyne:Bolic is related to Netsukuku through the FreakNet collective. Dyne:Bolic has some interesting ideas. Rather than be a test-drive CD, they are exploring the concept of "nesting" your home directory (say, to a USB stick). So you can carry a USB stick and CD and have an OS and your media. Also, they have the concept of docking, where the install is as simple as copying a folder to an existing HDD partition. The CD, on booting, will find this "docked" install and load the CD image (compressed) from there, for fast boot and load times. Very creative.
The notion is that Dyne:Bolic is a distribution for media activists. Say you are "on the ground" where something is going down. With this distro you can boot up and set up web-broadcasting streaming audio, video, as well as video editing and productions, audio prodution, special effects (for creating multimedia events), etc. Limited hardware and low bandwidth are addressed with innovative and clever programs like Hasciicam that broadcasts an "ascii-art" version of your webcam. Old timers will remember the days of ascii-art on the daisywheel printers. It was cool, and didn't wear down your "period" petal. They even have this workable on XBOX systems, with clustering support. They are quite ambitious, and are pulling this off. This is all in the hopes of empowering "guerilla news" operations and activists, and artists with totally free tools that will take advantage of whatever hardware is at hand.
Their ideas have merit outside of the media activist arena. There are at least some serious and capable people involved in the FreakNet collective. This is surely not a den of strung-out burnouts. The new Dyne:Bolic II will be based on Linux From Scratch, hopes to implement ZeroInstall and can be "modified" and re-burned to a new, updated or customized LiveCD. Good Stuff.
But on to Netsukuku
So you see I came to this being impressed by the work being done on Dyne:Bolic. Now the guy behind Dyne:Bolic is a Rastafarian. I don't claim to have the low-down on all the religious beliefs of Rastafarians. But think what you will of their use of Cannabis and/or psychedelics, I can say from Rastas that I have met that some are very sincere and pious people. Any congregation should be blessed with such kind and altruisticaly motivated people in it. It is certainly not fair to de-value these folks even if you don't really understand them. They are very well meaning and sincere. It is their fire, their passion.
There is a deep strain of thought in culture in and around Rastafarianism that seeks to actively promote the advancement and development of people everywhere creatively and spiritually. A good rasta is dedicated to spreading positive energies, raising people's creative and compassionate potentials, and so forth and so on. This comes out in some very creative approaches to many of the things we see in life.
Whether "this turkey flies" or not, and whether or not one or more of the authors are into anime or drugs, there are clever ideas being explored in Netsukuku that are worth hashing out.
Here I will try to explain what I have been able to grasp of this. A good english translation of the concepts would really help, granted.... So feel free to illuminate me without impunity if I have any of this wrong or am too far off base. I seek the truth of this, not my brand on it.
The design takes into account the inherent chaos in a self-generating mesh network such as this example of a wi-fi (radio) mesh. It expects that the map is never "complete" and always in flux, so is designed to compensate and re-configure as it goes. It rolls with changes. The use of fractal concepts is played out in the routing algorithms. The meshes construct themselves as members of local cells called groups, and elect group-nodes to abstract the design up to a group-of-groups.
It sort of works as a pyramid or tree that builds itself from the nodes back (up), scaling up a score as needed. If they break, they can become autonomous nets that can later re-fuze. But by the nature of meshes, there is likely to be a lot of overlap and so the breakage is not so common until you reach the fringes of coverage.
Now the addressing is assigned around this fractalized structure. And the way the net maintains itself is built with wave-theory in mind. As nodes connect, they send out "tracer packets" to announce themselves and hook up. The packets are a sort of broadcast that is propogated along the net as a wave. When it reaches terminal edges of the mesh "pond", it will echo back to "close" a route. This sort of lets the nodes (which are all routers) keep track of which "vectors" have been fully explored (mapped) and which have not. As the routes close, the mesh no longer needs to fetch info from the far side, as it is already available locally in a bordering node to report back. . In other words, your neighbor knows that end's status and can report back all the routes, and update the other side about you. It cuts out un-needed propogation of the "waves". Disconnects are also reported like a wave.
You have to admit that it is at least very clever, and has a lot of potential. Sure there are important tests that need to be done, but at least a lot will be learned from the attempts made here.
The DNS is also important, and they have developed a name system that propogates and uses hashes that map back to your node address. So there is a similar discovery process to propogate the names. But, at least in an active network, there is a private key/public key system that serves to register and lock your "name" on a first-come, first-serve basis. Issues I would wonder about are when two Netsukuku puddles finally touch and have to re-configure as one pond. How is the name system able to arbitrate disputes? Yet surely this is also all to be hashed out. This is a development environment yet, to be sure. But a development worth worth exploring, none the less.
My personal props and applause to the Netsukuku folks for what they are trying to accomplish. They have high aims and are brave enough to try and realize them. They have a lot of creative energy, as has been demonstrated. Apparently they have the faith in themselves to push the technology forward in positive directions. More power to them. I would not be surprised to find that we all may one day learn something useful and enlightening, if not liberating, from these humble yet ambitious hackers' exploits.
A GNU Age is Dawning! ;-)
~let it grow~
g n o m e