RetroShare is every thing I've ever wanted

   I've felt kind of out of place online for a long while now, to be honest with you all. I found my footing in cyberspace in chatboxes and "games" that were simply chatboxes with avatars you could spend cash to customize. Eventually as the embedded chatbox waned, I wove my way through various friend groups and communities on platforms like Ventrillo, Skype, Justin.tv {What would one day become the Amazon Owned Twitch.tv}... but Slowly those died too, Skype eclipsed Vent, Discord eclipsed Skype. Discord servers are interesting to me but I've never felt "comfortable" In a discord sever that contains more than two dozen people.

   Public facing social media has never been any more comfortable for me, as I'm sure you can guess. With the creation of this site I've found a rather solitary space to relax myself and feel comfortable, but it alone cannot solve the fact that digital social spaces no longer feel like the ones I grew up in, the ones I feel I know how to behave in. Sure; IRC is still around but mostly for the distribution of warez and literature, from what I've seen in my brief ventures.

   Enter my newest beloved, RetroShare.

RetroShare is a beautiful little piece of software if you ask me. Pictured in the screenshot above is its built in Forums, along side a preview of the other available features; Chatting, e-mail, file transfers, channels and boards. So pretty much every social purpose I have ever sought from the internet in one handy little piece of peer-2-peer software.

RetroShare allows you to create a p2p network of whatever size you choose, with options for hidden nodes via Tor for further anonymization. The wider community around the program seems to be focused mainly on, what most p2p networks are focused on, file sharing of various shades of legality.

If that for whatever reason doesn't interest you; you can keep your network small, create a little retreat from the wider web for your and your closest friends. Or just join the Yesterweb Network, a cluster of us from the Yesterweb Discord who just couldn't resist the allure of this web 1.0 utopia.

What else do You like, Phie?
The program has different themes, plug-ins, importable stickers for chats, easy copy-paste image embedding basically everywhere else, and is the fastest way to share files for me, even when I'm sitting two feet away from the computer that has the files I want. Being in a chatroom again is postively liberating, honestly.
How's it work?
Simply? Basically the same way Qbittorrent or Utorrent works. You establish direct connections with your friends' instances of Retroshare, the more connections you have the more network access you have. In a torrent client these connections are "peers", in RetroShare, they're your friends. DHT is used for the wider RetroShare network to assist in establishing connections.
Can I talk to people I'm not directly connected to?
Yes! if you're in a chatroom with someone, or can see their posts on a board or forum, you should have the option to establish distant chats with them, relayed to them through anonymous tunnels bouncing through the Nodes of the RetroShare network.
My chat messages are relayed?
By default and to allow for distanced connections outside of your direct network, yes. The data sent through anonymous tunnels is encrypted, but it is still theoretically visible to whichever nodes it passes through, so keep the transfer of sensitive information to direct DMs with trusted contacts with the relay function turned OFF; if you're sending something like a password or payment information.
Are there any other details that would make a privacy nerd squeamish?
Absolutely, a software like this doesn't come without vulnerablities. Your exact location [IP address] is visible to anyone you form a direct connection with. This can be used for various nefarious purposes, but as long as you limit your direct connections to folks you trust, you should be just fine, shouldn't you? The nature of this software necessitates that you be careful about the people you add.
Is there anything to be done about that?
Also Absolutely! Hidden nodes can be created with both Tor and I2P, obfuscating your IP address. I cannot help you anymore with either of those things, I haven't become paranoid enough yet to care about them.

I only vaguely know about privacy and now I'm nervous because you mentioned exposed IP addresses.

Shhh, don't be, it will all be okay. The biggest risks I can see myself, and that I see mentioned in discussions around the program, center around someone in your network being a nefarious actor. If you're uncomfortable with the potential leaks of relayed messages, turn off relay servers in your settings; it's that easy. Though I really don't think you need to, again, things sent through the anonymous tunnels that route through relay nodes are encrypted.

Be careful, connect responsibly, and if you don't have to don't port forward; if you do have to, try to change your port number regularly.

Okay I gave you my usual linux nerd disclaimer about my problems with a software before I bother trying to sell you on it, are you still with me?
...
Cool.

So The Benefits.

The benefits of RetroShare is that there's no centralized overhead. Mabe during all this web3 kerfuffle you've heard a lot about decentralization, and a lot about how the blockchain isn't decentralized. Forget about that bullshit for a moment, because this is! There's no ads, no fees, and no corprate. RetroShare is OpenSource and primarily developed by one person, at present.

You're free to host whatever content you want to on your network, share whichever files you have in local storage that you want to share.

It's just freeing. Back in the day in chatrooms and boxes I always felt comfortable being myself and speaking freely, because of the perceived lack of oversight. On a platform like Discord I am always aware of the corporate lord, looming above me and my beautiful flock of friends, biding their time while they struggle for a way to monetize us.

Because of the learning curve that comes with RetroShare, I can't recommend it widely. If you're comfortable port fowarding and troubleshooting light networking issues, you should be able to get the program up and running no problem.

If you are a fellow digital native and web 1.0 enthusiast who longs for a good chatroom please consider joining us on RetroShare. My short time with the program has been unforgettable and I will continue to evangelize about it.

If this little page has piqued your interest, please give the Retroshare website a look-see for downloads, and offical documentation including set-up guides.

I AM HAVING PROBLEMS

That makes sense it's a bit buggy and there are a lot of parts of set up that could go wrong, or need corrected after completion. Take a deep breath and let the cy83rpr1mm13 hold your hand.

Here are problems I have encountered so far, alongside their solutions.

NAT Firewalled? DHT failed to connect? What?!

RetroShare does have an option for UPnP; so double check that your router has UPnP port fowarding enabled. If it fails to function once UPnP is enabled...

Port foward. Port. Foward. If you're on a home network this should be easy. If you are on a college network because you live in a dorm, you're a little SoL. The plus side, is even with these two things misbehaving, everyone I have helped with this program has still been able to establish connections outside of their LAN. If you fail to connect to a peer over DHT while exchanging certificates, just be patient. Most connections will resolve within 30 minutes, even if both parties DHT is failing to connect.

What... What exactly is port forwarding?

Oh... Oh dearest I am so sorry I am not the person who should be teaching you about this. Okay give This Link a gander please, they explain it better than I can because; If we are being honest with each other, I don't understand networking. It's all tubes right?

If you have never port forwarded before, or interacted with networking in such a manner; please do some futher reading and maybe uh, host a minecraft server for your friends? That was the first time I port forwarded, do that.

Just google whatever questions you have. If you are actually googling with Google {or a search engine that mirrors their results, such as startpage} and not finding answers to your questions, check out DuckDuckGo. I have found it far more helpful when searching technical questions than basically every other search engine; for some reason.

Files I download in the program aren't saving to my disk!

Please run the program as administrator. This seems to occur with Pro or Enterprise editions of Windows specifically. If this fails to rectify the problem, try changing your download folder. If you're running the Linux Flatpak, you may need to adjust the file system the flatpak has access to.

Chat Font Styles aren't rendering properly!!

Ensure you're using a websafe font, ensure the other chat participants are using websafe fonts. Or just stick to colors and avoid custom fonts.

[Other Problem!!!!!!]

Please browse the RetroShare Site, GitHub, Documentation, and SourceForge wiki, and submit bug reports as you deem appropriate. Please email me with any bugs you have and their fixes so that I can add them to this page for future reference :-)

I hope this page encourages you to at least give this software a gander, and if it does, feel free to email me about it, perhaps we can exchange certificates :-) or I can just help you troubleshoot.


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