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.
2019-06-18 ncp11 is now working (both positive and negative TLS certificate overrides) in Tor Browser for Windows. It turned out that the only things keeping it from working properly once it built without errors were a couple of GNU/Linux-specific file path assumptions, both of which were quite easy to fix.
2019-06-15 ncp11 (our next-gen Namecoin TLS interoperability software for Firefox, Tor Browser, and other NSS-based software) now builds without errors for Windows targets, including rbm descriptors. Getting it to build was a little bit more involved than just tweaking the rbm end of things, because the PKCS#11 spec requires that structs be packed on Windows, while Go doesn’t support packed structs. So, some minor hackery was needed (I wrote a C function that converts between packed and unpacked structs). Kudos to Miek Gieben (author of the Go pkcs11 package) for his useful sample code, which made this fix quite easy to code up.
2019-06-13 A few days ago I mentioned that ncp11 now builds in rbm. As you may recall, rbm is the build system used by Tor Browser; it facilitates reproducible builds, which improves the security of the build process against supply-chain attacks. I’ve now added several new projects/targets to Namecoin’s rbm descriptors:
2019-06-12 ncp11 is the next-gen Namecoin TLS interoperability project that Aerth and I have been cooking up in the Namecoin R&D lab for a while. (See my 35C3 slides and workshop notes for more info on it if you haven’t heard about it yet.) Last month, I mentioned that I intended to get ncp11 building in rbm. I now have ncp11 building in rbm for GNU/Linux 64-bit and 32-bit x86 targets. 32-bit support involved fixing a bug in ncdns’s usage of PKCS#11 (specifically, ncp11 was making type assumptions that are only valid on 64-bit targets, which produced a build error on 32-bit targets). I’ve tested the resulting 64-bit binary in a Debian Buster VM, and it works fine when used as a drop-in replacement for NSS’s CKBI library. (It looks like there are issues when loaded alongside CKBI, which I’ll need to debug when I have some free time, but this isn’t a release blocker, and the same issues are reproducible with the non-rbm binary I used at 35C3.)
2019-06-03 The Tor Project has released Tor Browser 8.5. Among the usual interesting changes, Namecoin users will be interested to note that Tor Browser 8.5 includes Namecoin’s
certutil Windows/macOS patch, which paves the way for better Namecoin TLS support in Firefox on Windows and macOS. For the #reckless among you who want to experiment, the
certutil binaries are available here (or here for those of you who can’t access onion services); specifically you want the
mar-tools downloads. Kudos to The Tor Project on getting Tor Browser 8.5 released!
2019-05-23 We’ve released Electrum-NMC v220.127.116.11. This release includes a fix for a PyInstaller build script issue that was introduced in v3.3.6, which unfortunately slipped by us until a few minutes after v3.3.6 was released. The only binaries affected by that issue were the Windows-specific binaries; users of the v3.3.6 Python, GNU/Linux, and Android binaries are unaffected.
2019-05-21 We’ve released Electrum-NMC v3.3.6. This release includes important security fixes, and we recommend that all users upgrade. Here’s what’s new since v18.104.22.168.1:
2019-05-16 As Hugo mentioned previously, rbm-based build scripts for ncdns are available. rbm is the build system used by Tor Browser. This work paves the way for reproducible builds of ncdns, improves the security of the build process against supply-chain attacks, and also paves the way for Windows and macOS support in our next-gen TLS interoperability codebase, ncp11 . I’ve been spending some time improving those build scripts; here’s what’s new:
2019-05-08 As was previously announced, Jonas Ostman, Cassini, and I (Jeremy Rand) represented Namecoin at 35C3 in Leipzig, Germany. Same as last year, we had an awesome time there. As usual for conferences that we attend, we engaged in a large number of conversations with other attendees. Also as usual, I won’t be publicly disclosing the content of those conversations, because I want people to be able to talk to me at conferences without worrying that off-the-cuff comments will be broadcast to the public. However, the first fruits of those discussions started showing up on GitHub by January 2019, so hopefully you won’t be waiting too long. I would like to give a special shout-out to Diego “rehrar” Salazar and Dimi “m2049r” Divak from the Monero community, with whom I spent quite a lot of time hanging out during the Congress – very fun people to talk to.
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.