Namecoin is an experimental open-source technology which improves decentralization, security, censorship resistance, privacy, and speed of certain components of the Internet infrastructure such as DNS and identities.
(For the technically minded, Namecoin is a key/value pair registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin technology.)
Bitcoin frees money – Namecoin frees DNS, identities, and other technologies.
What can Namecoin be used for?
- Protect free-speech rights online by making the web more resistant to censorship.
- Attach identity information such as GPG and OTR keys and email, Bitcoin, and Bitmessage addresses to an identity of your choice.
- Human-meaningful Tor .onion domains.
- Decentralized TLS (HTTPS) certificate validation, backed by blockchain consensus.
- Access websites using the .bit top-level domain.
- Proposed ideas such as file signatures, voting, bonds/stocks/shares, web of trust, notary services, and proof of existence. (To be implemented.)
What does Namecoin do under the hood?
- Securely record and transfer arbitrary names (keys).
- Attach a value (data) to the names (up to 520 bytes).
- Transact the digital currency namecoins (NMC).
- Like bitcoins, Namecoin names are difficult to censor or seize.
- Lookups do not generate network traffic (improves privacy).
Namecoin was the first fork of Bitcoin and still is one of the most innovative “altcoins”. It was first to implement merged mining and a decentralized DNS. Namecoin was also the first solution to Zooko’s Triangle, the long-standing problem of producing a naming system that is simultaneously secure, decentralized, and human-meaningful.
2017-09-24 Making TLS work for Namecoin websites in Firefox has been an interesting challenge. On the positive side, Mozilla has historically exposed a number of API’s that would be useful for this purpose, and we’ve actually produced a couple of Firefox extensions that used them: the well-known Convergence for Namecoin codebase (based on Convergence by Moxie Marlinspike and customized for Namecoin by me), and the much-lesser-known nczilla (written by Hugo Landau and me, with some code borrowed from Selenium). This was a pretty big advantage over Chromium, whose developers have consistently refused to support our use cases (which forced us to use the dehydrated certificate witchcraft). On the negative side, Mozilla has a habit of removing useful API’s approximately as fast as we notice new ones. (Convergence’s required API’s were removed by Mozilla about a year or two after we started using Convergence, and nczilla’s required API’s were removed before nczilla even had a proper release, which is why nearly no one has heard of nczilla.) On the positive side, Mozilla has expressed an apparent willingness to entertain the idea of merging officially supported API’s for our use case. So, I’ve been hacking around with a fork of Firefox, hoping to come up with something that Mozilla could merge in the future. Phase 1 of that effort is now complete.
2017-09-13 Several improvements are desirable for how Namecoin Core creates name transactions:
2017-09-03 The ncdns-nsis project, which provides a zero-configuration Windows installer
for Namecoin domain name resolution functionality, has merged SPV support,
implemented via BitcoinJ. This enables Windows machines to resolve
domain names without having to download the full Namecoin chain.
2017-08-31 As was announced, I represented Namecoin at the 2017 Global Conference on Educational Robotics. Although GCER doesn’t produce official recordings of their talks, I was able to obtain an amateur recording of my talk from an audience member. I’ve also posted my slides, as well as my paper from the conference proceedings.
2017-08-24 We’ve released ncdns v0.0.4. This release incorporates a bugfix in the madns dependency, which fixes a DNSSEC signing bug. The ncdns Windows installer in this release also updated the Dnssec-Trigger dependency.
2017-08-03 After quite a bit of code cleanup, we’ve released a new beta of ncdns for Windows, which includes Namecoin-based TLS certificate validation for Chromium, Google Chrome, and Opera on Windows. This includes both the CryptoAPI certificate injection and NUMS HPKP injection that were discussed previously. You can download it on the Beta Downloads page. We’ve also posted binaries of ncdns (without install scripts or TLS support) for a number of other operating systems; they’re also linked on the Beta Downloads page.
2017-07-28 InfoQ has posted the recording of my talk, Case Study: Alternate Blockchains at QCon London 2017.
2017-07-07 Generally I’m of the opinion that it’s better to get patches to other people’s projects merged upstream whenever feasible; accordingly I submitted the LibreTorNS patches upstream. Happily, meejah has merged the LibreTorNS patches to upstream TorNS. That means LibreTorNS is now obsolete, and you should use meejah’s upstream TorNS for testing dns-prop279 going forward.
2017-07-06 I will be speaking at the 2017 Global Conference on Educational Robotics (July 8-12, 2017). For those of you unfamiliar with GCER, the audience is mostly a mix of middle school students, high school students, college students, and educators, most of whom are participating in the robotics competitions hosted at GCER (primarily Botball). I competed in Botball (and the other 2 GCER competitions: KIPR Open and KIPR Aerial) between 2003 and 2015, and that experience (particularly the hacking aspect, which is actively encouraged in all three competitions) was a major factor in why I’m a Namecoin developer. My talk is an outreach effort, which I hope will result in increased interest in the Botball scene in the areas of privacy, security, and human rights. My talk (scheduled for July 10) is entitled “Making HTTPS and Anonymity Networks Slightly More Secure (Or: How I’m Using My Botball Skill Set in the Privacy/Security Field)”.
2017-07-05 InfoQ has posted the recording of the Practical Cryptography & Blockchain Panel at QCon London 2017. The panelists (from left to right) were Elaine Ou, me (Jeremy Rand), David Vorick, Paul Sztorc, and Peter Todd. Riccardo Spagni (on the right) moderated the panel.
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.