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[Freedombox-discuss] We need mesh networking later. Now we need one simple compelling feature users love.


I really like what you wrote here and I want to register my support for your
overall position. However, I think I see two small aspects of your proposal
which can be improved...

On Sun, Feb 20 at 10:03:58 UTC 2011, Dave Crossland wrote:
> tl;dr We need mesh networking later. Right now we need something that
> does one thing well, that political activists can install simply on an
> old device they already bought (PC or Linux-based router) and that
> they will love and tell their friends about, because exponential usage
> is key.
>On 19 February 2011 12:59, Luca Dionisi <luca.dionisi at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sat, Feb 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM, Jonathan Roberts
>> <jonrob.one at googlemail.com> wrote:
>>>> <quote>
>>>> More importantly perhaps is the fact that the ISPs are actively
>>>> blocking any attempts to bypass this filtering, with residents in
>>>> Libya unable to even use the standard filtering bypass tools. We've
>>>> been told that neither OperaTor, HideMyAss, nor HotSpotShield are
>>>> working. Even standard PPTP VPN connections out of the country are
>>>> being blocked.
>>>> </quote>
>>> OLPCs have mesh capabilities.
>> Their mesh capabilities are those of standard 802.11s. They use AODV.
>> For what I know they should have a big limitation in the number of
>> nodes they can scale up to.
>> As well as other open issues (the protocol being reactive, the IP has
>> to be chosen by the user and has to be unique, etc)
>> Not very reliable for a big mesh.
> OLPC and OpenMoko are somewhat similar hardware-software projects to
> this, also originating from the software freedom movement with
> comparatively little seed funding. They contrast with Android,
> ReadyNAS, many routers, set top boxes and other hardware-software
> projects that originate from capitalists seeking returns on
> investments and which happen to use open source strategies to varying
> extents while benefiting from proprietary software's features and big
> money.
> Those products generally focused on a single use-case while those
> projects were diffused in many areas. I suggest that there is a lesson
> there.
> I also suggest that one of OpenMoko and OLPC's subtle but fundamental
> problems from their outset was that their software vision was of the
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model and not iterative; their
> v1 was far more sophisticated than it needed to be. This overstretched
> the projects and weakened them. In both cases I wonder if this was
> spill over from the hardware being necessarily so, and having the same
> people in charge of both.

This is a valid criticism but it's also fair to say that OLPC's problems --
particularly where the mesh network was concerned -- were compounded by having
done too /little/ requirements- and design-work. You see, if someone had done
the requisite analysis up-front (and communicated it!), then we might have
realized that the mesh network wasn't going to be able to supply the capacity
required by the chosen presence and collaboration technologies in the available
radio environments before we built the damned thing!

> So I would like to advocate focusing on one aspect of the full Freedom
> Box vision for at least a year, and picking an aspect that already
> runs and works on Android phones, ReadyNAS servers and Netgear/Linksys
> routers but just isn't easy to use yet - and making it easy.
> https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/721744279/push-the-freedombox-foundation-from-0-to-60-in-30
> lays out that in 7 month's time, we will have produced a free software
> operating system with at least one application that runs on at least
> one particular piece of hardware.
> So while mesh networking is tantalising, I suggest saying "yes but
> later" to it.

I completely agree with you that we need to separate the engineering problem of

   "deliver a v0.1 'Freedom Box' in 6 months' time" 

from the research problem of

   "turn our current (Spider)-web into a (Starfish)-web" [1]. 

However, I will point out in passing that, since research benefits from focus,
organization, and vision just as much as does engineering, I personally hope
that the FBF will spend a non-trivial fraction of its time and social capital
helping to move research that is relevant to the FBF mission into practice.




[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Starfish-Spider-Unstoppable-Leaderless-Organizations/dp/1591841836/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1142901680&sr=8-1

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