Juan Benet (@juanbenet) spoke at last week’s Talks at Sourcegraph about his project, “IPFS: The Permanent Web” (slides and video). IPFS is a bold attempt at evolving the Internet’s infrastructure. Here’s how Juan describes it:
IPFS is a global, versioned, peer-to-peer file system. It combines good ideas from Git, BitTorrent, Kademlia, and SFS. You can think of it like a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging Git objects, making up the web. IPFS provides an interface much simpler than HTTP, but has permanence built in. You can also use it to mount the world at /ipfs.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into IPFS and how it could be used.
IPFS envisions a world where any resource is available via a locally mounted filesystem at paths like:
# a mutable path /ipns/my.host.com/some/file.txt # or a permanent path /ipfs/QmaKtFK3wiq9z2LmhMKgoXvuB4XDeY5Xrac8vVBLPjc9CX/some/file.txt
But this file doesn’t necessarily reside on the local disk. Instead, it exists in IPFS, a global distributed storage system. IPFS makes files in this namespace:
To achieve these goals, IPFS synthesizes many successful techniques from the last 15 years of distributed systems research. Central to the IPFS design is the Merkle DAG, a data structure that represents all the files. It’s like Git’s blob, tree, and commit, except IPFS has a more flexible model: you can define what your link structure is and how it works. This means you can implement Git on top, or a Blockchain like Bitcoin, or linked web pages.
Juan also discussed a list of use cases for IPFS:
IPFS is an open-source, MIT-licensed project. You can use the ideas and the implementations for whatever you want. It’s still early, so the implementations are not complete. You should follow @juanbenet and check out the IPFS spec and open-source implementations. Watch or star these repositories on GitHub to follow along:
Also, you can join #ipfs on irc.freenode.org.
Juan has a compelling vision for a future where the Internet is more efficient, robust, and safe. He has been thinking about these things for at least the last 5 years I’ve known him, and he’s now turning all that thought into action. Watch what he does, and if you’re interested in joining Juan, he told me he’s hiring engineers who:
Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We bring in speakers to the Sourcegraph office in San Francisco every month to talk about the tech behind the most ambitious and interesting open source projects. Join the Sourcegraph meetup group to hear about the next one.
(Also, at the end of the talk, Juan previewed Filecoin, the sister protocol of IPFS. Filecoin was announced the day after the IPFS talk, but our attendees got a sneak peek.)