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.
2017-08-03 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.
2017-06-21 A while back, I released on the tor-dev mailing list a tool for using Namecoin naming with Tor. It worked, but it was clearly a proof of concept. For example, it didn’t implement most of the Namecoin domain names spec, it didn’t work with the libdohj client, and it used the Tor controller API. I’ve now coded a new tool that fixes these issues.
2017-06-20 As I mentioned in my previous post, we protect from compromised CA’s by using a nothing-up-my-sleeve (NUMS) HPKP pin in Chromium. Previously, it was necessary for the user to add this pin themselves in the Chromium UI. This was really sketchy from both a security and UX point of view. I have now submitted a PR to ncdns that will automatically add the necessary pin.
2017-06-17 Work on the electrum port for Namecoin has been moving along nicely. It was decided that we will use the electrum-client from spesmilo, along with the electrumX server. ElectrumX was chosen due to the original electrum-server being discontinued a few months ago. So far the electrum client has been ported over for compatability with electrumX. This includes the re-branding, blockchain parameters and other electrum related settings for blockchain verification
2017-06-15 Back in the “bad old days” of Namecoin TLS (circa 2013), we used the Convergence codebase by Moxie Marlinspike to integrate with TLS implementations. However, we weren’t happy with that approach, and have abandoned it in favor of a new approach: dehydrated certificates.
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.