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.
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.
2022-06-13 Lots of things have been done with pkcs11mod since my last post on the subject. This is going to be a bit of a “grab bag” post without much structure (because that’s what reality looks like here, and this post is intended to reflect reality).
2022-06-08 Electrum-NMC v4.0.0b0 and earlier are affected by CVE-2022-31246 / GHSA-4fh4-hx35-r355 (the vulnerability is inherited from upstream Electrum). Electrum-NMC v4.0.0b1 and ncdns for Windows v0.3.1 contain the fix. Tor Browser Nightly was not vulnerable. We would like to thank Unciphered and Immunefi for reporting the vulnerability and coordinating the disclosure with us, and upstream Electrum for implementing the fix.
2022-06-04 We’ve released ncdns v0.3.1. This Windows-only release includes important improvements to memory safety and UX; we recommend that all Windows users upgrade.
2022-06-02 We’ve released Electrum-NMC v4.0.0b1. This release includes important UX improvements to reduce the risk of accidentally letting names expire, both on the wallet side and a resolution mechanism called semi-expiration that stops resolving names before they are permanently lost. Since semi-expiration affects resolution results, we therefore recommend that all users upgrade, even if you do not own any names yourself, so that you see the same resolution results as everyone else. Here’s what’s new since v4.0.0b0:
2022-05-27 We’ve released ncdns v0.3. This release adds Tor Browser configuration support to the Windows installer. If you have Tor Browser installed already, the Windows installer will offer to configure Tor Browser to use Namecoin. This Tor Browser support is aimed at a different audience than the support currently shipped with Tor Browser Nightly; the major features that the ncdns installer brings to the table compared to Tor Browser Nightly are:
2022-05-22 In a previous post, I covered some Go DNS seeder improvements I made. Now here’s another one: DNS over TCP support.
Namecoin Receives 30k EUR in Additional Funding from NLnet Foundation’s Internet Hardening Fund and Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
2022-03-07 We’re happy to announce that Namecoin is receiving 30,000 EUR (roughly 33,306 USD) in additional funding from NLnet Foundation’s Internet Hardening Fund. If you’re unfamiliar with NLnet, you might want to read about NLnet Foundation, or just take a look at the projects they’ve funded over the years (you might see some familiar names). The Internet Hardening Fund is managed by NLnet and funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Unlike our already-active funding from NLnet’s NGI0 Discovery Fund, which is focused on Namecoin Core and Electrum-NMC, this new funding is focused on TLS use cases.
The Namecoin Lab Leak (Part 2): How p11trustmod Vaccinates Against the Unmaintainable Code Omicron Variant
2022-02-26 In a previous post, I covered how splitting off p11mod from ncp11 improved code readability and auditability by using a higher-level API. Jacob Hoffman-Andrews’s p11 API is certainly more high-level than Miek Gieben’s pkcs11 API, but I wasn’t satisfied. Consider that most PKCS#11 usage in the wild involves encryption or signature algorithms that operate on public or private keys. In contrast, PKCS#11 modules like Mozilla CKBI or Namecoin ncp11 are strictly using the PKCS#11 API as a read-only database API, and only for X.509 certificates  – public and private keys are nowhere to be found. Given these limits on what usage Namecoin will need, we can construct a much higher-level (and much simpler) API than even the p11 API.
2022-02-18 Forgetting to renew a Namecoin name on time is rather catastrophic: it means that anyone else can re-register it and then hold the name hostage. In practice today, it is likely that such re-registrations will be done by Good Samaritan volunteers who are happy to donate the name back to you. However, as per the cypherpunk philosophy of “don’t trust, verify”, it’s not desirable to rely on those Good Samaritans, since they constitute a trusted third party. How can we improve this situation?
2022-01-29 Any P2P network has to deal with initial peer discovery. Bitcoin and Namecoin mostly solve this via DNS seeds: special domain names that return a large number of IP addresses corresponding to Bitcoin/Namecoin nodes. If you’ve used Namecoin Core, you’ve probably encountered the dreaded “no peers” symptom. This is because, unfortunately, the primary DNS seeder implementation used by Bitcoin (by Pieter Wuille) is neither Freedom Software (it’s under an All Rights Reserved license, so Namecoin cannot legally use it) nor memory-safe (it’s in C++). To help improve Namecoin peer discovery (and maybe Bitcoin too), I’ve submitted the following improvements to Lyndsay Roger’s Go-based DNS seeder (which is both Freedom Software and memory-safe):
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.