How to Access I2P (The Basics)

I’ve noticed that some of the technical topics I’ve discussed in the past still aren’t all that well understood.

That being said, I’ve mentioned I2P on several posts; it can be one of the more challenging anonymity networks to use, especially if you aren’t familiar with the topic.

Part of the reason that I think I2P seems so intimidating at first is that its documentation (even on their main site) is incredibly technical, and may not make sense to a new user.

For instance, here’s a quote of one of their explanations, from Intro – I2P:

I2P is an anonymous network, exposing a simple layer that applications can use to anonymously and securely send messages to each other. The network itself is strictly message based (a la IP), but there is a library available to allow reliable streaming communication on top of it (a la TCP). All communication is end to end encrypted (in total there are four layers of encryption used when sending a message), and even the end points (“destinations”) are cryptographic identifiers (essentially a pair of public keys).

Did that all make sense? I do recommend reading the documentation, even if it seems a little dense at first. After a time, it’ll start to sound more familiar.

At its most basic, as with Tor, you can simply download the software for your respective OS. On their main site, geti2p.net, there’s a download page with versions for Windows, OSX, Linux, Debian/Ubuntu, Android, and the source code (for those of you who like to build from source!).

The Windows version is probably the simplest. Just download the executable file and run it.

Alternatively, if you’re running OS X, download the respective file and double click it, or type java -jar i2pinstall_0.9.39.jarin a terminal to run the installer. You might also have the option to right-click and select “Open with Java”.

If you look at the download page I linked to, it has instructions for other OS’s as well.

It seems that one of the things that confuses people is where to go once the program is installed. Again, this varies depending on your operating system. I’m going to steal (but I prefer the term “quote”) from their website again, specifically the section entitled “Post-install work”:

After running the installer on windows, simply click on the “Start I2P” button which will bring up the router console, which has further instructions.

On Unix-like systems, I2P can be started as a service using the “i2prouter” script, located in the directory you selected for I2P. Changing to that directory in a console and issuing “sh i2prouter status” should tell you the router’s status. The arguments “start”, “stop” and “restart” control the service. The router console can be accessed at its usual location. For users on OpenSolaris and other systems for which the wrapper (i2psvc) is not supported, start the router with “sh runplain.sh” instead.

When installing for the first time, please remember to adjust your NAT/firewall if you can, bearing in mind the Internet-facing ports I2P uses, described here among other ports. If you have successfully opened your port to inbound TCP, also enable inbound TCP on the configuration page.

Also, please review and adjust the bandwidth settings on the configuration page, as the default settings of 96 KBps down / 40 KBps up are fairly slow.

If you want to reach eepsites via your browser, have a look on the browser proxy setup page for an easy howto.

On my system, I’ve accessed I2P two different ways. I’m using Invisible Internet Protocol Daemon (i2pd), and I managed to find an I2P Browser that’s configured for my system – it’s a fork of the Tor Browser, more or less. This, however, I downloaded from the Ubuntu store, so if you don’t have Ubuntu, there’s another I2P Browser here: https://github.com/ThePrudentNinja/I2PBrowserWin – that one, however, reads “Please note, this is outdated, new repo with updates to be released soon.”

The simplest way to access eepsites (i.e. I2P sites) is to change your proxy settings in whichever browser you normally use. For instance, if you’re using Firefox, it should look like this (although this screenshot is from Windows):

Select “Manual proxy configuration,” and then under “HTTP Proxy,” type in “127.0.0.1”. Where it says “Port,” type in “4444.” You can test to see if it’s working with some of these links:

http://planet.i2p/

http://anongw.i2p/

http://sigterm.i2p/

http://shadowlife.i2p/

If these don’t work, either the sites are down, or your proxy still isn’t set up correctly. I suggest reading I2P’s FAQ as well for some of the more common issues you might face: Frequently Asked Questions – I2P

As far as finding other links, you can try some of the ones listed here: onion soup – i2p links. If you’re using the I2P Browser, it has an option that says “Browse alive hosts,” which will show you a list of eepsites that are currently online. That might be helpful, no?

Questions? Comments? What else should I cover regarding this topic?

I’ve considered talking more about torrenting and things of that nature…if that interests you!

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