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.
2020-04-02 The Namecoin website is now available via Namecoin at https://namecoin.bit/. The TLS certificate should work in most Namecoin-supported TLS clients, but unfortunately doesn’t yet work with Tor Browser. This will be fixed in the future.
2020-02-27 Recently, I was put in contact (via a mutual friend) with a new Namecoin user, Forest Johnson, who was having some trouble registering a name with Electrum-NMC. Unlike typical software users, who tend to give up when encountering issues, Forest was kind enough to provide some excellent UX review of Electrum-NMC. One piece of that UX review was that it’s not obvious to a user that registering a name is a two-step process, and that the latter step can’t proceed until the former step has 12 confirmations. So, I’ve added an ETA indicator for name registrations to the Manage Names tab. Check it out:
2020-01-26 The Tor Project has released Tor 0.4.3.1-alpha. Among the usual interesting changes, Namecoin users will be interested to note that Tor 0.4.3.1-alpha includes Namecoin’s stream isolation patch for Tor controllers such as StemNS, which paves the way for better Namecoin resolution support for Tor. Kudos to The Tor Project on getting Tor 0.4.3.1-alpha released!
2020-01-16 We’ve released ncdns v0.0.10.3. Here’s what’s new since v0.0.9.2:
2020-01-11 As was previously announced, I (Jeremy Rand) represented Namecoin at 36C3 in Leipzig, Germany. As usual, it was an excellent event. As usual for conferences that I attend, I 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.
2019-12-20 You might have noticed a relative quietness on this news feed and on our social media in the last few months. If you’re a particularly astute student of history, you might have noticed that something very similar happened around the same time last year, and that this was because Aerth and I were busy cooking up ncp11 for a 35C3 talk and workshop. If you’ve gotten that far, you might have gone one step further and guessed that something similar is responsible for the quietness this year. You’d be right! I (Jeremy Rand) will represent Namecoin at 36C3 (the 36th Chaos Communication Congress) in Leipzig, December 27-30. (Alas, Jonas and Cassini won’t be there this year.)
2019-12-12 In November 2017, Brandon posted some WIP code for adding a DNS Builder GUI to Namecoin-Qt. To refresh your memory, it looked like this:
2019-12-09 The documentation for using Namecoin for name lookups with Tor (via ncprop279) includes a warning about stream isolation. Specifically, it states that while TCP connections issued by the application (e.g. Tor Browser) will be stream-isolated as usual, stream isolation will not be applied to whatever network traffic might be induced by the Namecoin lookup. As a result, our documentation recommends against using Electrum-NMC with ncprop279, since Electrum-NMC will produce network traffic on each lookup. Our documentation instead recommends Namecoin Core or ConsensusJ-Namecoin’s leveldbtxcache mode, neither of which produce any network traffic per lookup. However, this situation is non-ideal; Electrum-NMC has some very real advantages, and it’s a shame that we can’t recommend it for this purpose. Can we do better?
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.