Alternatives to Tor: Freenet


My buddy Arne Babenhauserheide, whom I interviewed in Interview: Developer Arne Babenhauserheide of pyFreenet & Infocalypse, recently pointed out an interesting AskReddit post about Freenet.

The question was “What’s your deep web story?”  Immediately, when someone asks that question, the average reader (including me) tends to expect some kind of horror story.  Imagine my surprise at this response from Reddit user “fnanon”:


I don’t know if that’s hard to read from here, but there are some real gems:

“Once someone threatened me for telling him that killing Netanjahu [sic] is a dumb idea which would only make matters worse for Palestina [sic].  But wait, that was on G+…

“Then that other time, when I was insulted by Neonazis.  But wait, that was on twitter…”

“So there’s the problem with Freenet.  We have few horrorstories [sic].”  The point, anyway, was that a lot of Tor users tend to encounter disturbing sites and have horrifying experiences, as opposed to Freenet users, who are probably aware of the disturbing sites, but don’t necessarily visit them.

One of the main reasons for this (as fnanon addressed on Reddit) is that Freenet users really do seem to know what they’re signing up for.  Also, Freesites generally go out of their way to warn you if you’re about to click on potentially disturbing content.  Take, for example, Freenet’s homepage, which looks similar to this (I think the wording has changed slightly):


Under where it says “Linkageddon,” the description warns you up front: “Links to every Freenet sites, sorted by when they were last updated, including some very offensive sites.  Be careful what you click on!”  So there are no pretenses that these links are all going to be filled with flowers and ponies.


Well, OK – maybe some ponies.

Nerdageddon (pictured above), on the other hand, has all the “offensive” material removed.  On top of that, Freenet links are very clearly arranged, organized, and descriptive.

(For more general info about Freenet, check out the Freenet Wiki.

Not to knock Tor, but many links on the Tor network are shared on sites with no descriptions or titles, or are purposely designed to be misleading (i.e. there are a lot of phishing and malware links).  Presumably, this is because there are a lot more people using Tor, and the people who design such sites are hoping to ensnare some n00bs.

The Message is the Medium


In addition to the link directories, Freenet is also popular for its Freenet Message System (FMS).  FMS is written in C++, as opposed to the rest (which is coded in Java).  For this reason, it’s not considered part of the official Freenet codebase.

Do you dare to try it out?  Visit the official FMS page on Freenet (NOTE: You must be logged into Freenet to access this link).

Wait a minute – http://localhost:8888/USK@0npnMrqZNKRCRoGojZV93UNHCMN-6UU3rRSAmP6jNLE,~BG-edFtdCC1cSH4O3BWdeIYa8Sw5DfyrSV-TKdO5ec,AQACAAE/fms/142/? That must be what Takedownman meant by this:


Unfortunately, at this time, I have only limited experience with FMS, so I’ll probably update this post in the near future once I’m more familiar with it.  Never fear; YouTube user Cryptnode has an excellent tutorial on setting up FMS: Freenet Setup FMS on Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10

And that’s not to say that I doubt its quality, of course!

The Social Network!!


No, no!!  Not that one!  The network in question is called Sone, a plugin that implements a social network on top of Freenet.

Sone requires the Web of Trust plugin in order to connect with other users, so don’t forget to load that first!  Once you do, you can begin connecting with others as you would on most other social networks.

WARNING: Random Moment Ahead!

I don’t know why, but the name “Sone” really reminds me of this:


Anyhow, I’m tired – this post will have a Part 2 with more information and fewer cows.  Stay tuned, readers!

P.S. Check out Arne Babenhauserheide’s clearnet blog at Zwillingssterns Weltenwald (please don’t ask me how to pronounce it), or his Freenet blog at random_babcom – it’s about a thousand numbers long and has no dot anything at the end!


4 thoughts on “Alternatives to Tor: Freenet”

  1. thank you for your article!

    as a note: I’m not developer of pyFreenet and Infocalypse, but maintainer of pyFreenet and Infocalypse.

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