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.
2020-07-08 We are watching with alarm the currently-ongoing takeover of the Open Technology Fund (OTF) by the Trump Administration’s newly appointed CEO of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM, formerly known as BBG), Michael Pack. In the first week of the new USAGM leadership, Michael has fired OTF CEO Libby Liu and OTF President Laura Cunningham, and (according to a document released by Libby) is apparently preparing to redirect OTF funding away from the current diverse set of open-source tools in favor of a small set of tools, narrowly focused on censorship circumvention, including the closed-source scam projects “Freegate” and “Ultrasurf”.
2020-06-07 We’ve released Electrum-NMC v3.3.10. This release (which is still based on upstream Electrum v3.3.8) includes a few high-demand bug fixes that we wanted to get released before upstream Electrum tags v4.0.0.
2020-05-10 When Namecoin was first being designed, an attack had to be dealt with: the frontrunning attack. The attack works like this:
2020-04-30 At Namecoin, we generally try to be good citizens in the broader community. This means that we regularly engage in analysis, peer review, and patch writing for projects that aren’t strictly part of Namecoin. In that spirit, today we are posting free-software-friendly video recordings of the Joint Meeting of the ICANN Board and the ICANN Technical Experts Group at ICANN60 in Abu Dhabi on November 1, 2017. We hope that making this session more accessible to free software users will facilitate increased peer review, analysis, and research.
2020-04-24 Namecoin-branded merchandise (e.g. T-shirts and stickers) are now for sale from our friends at Cypher Market. Not only is this a good way to spread the word about Namecoin, but Cypher Market also donates a cut of the profits to support Namecoin development.
2020-04-17 We’ve released Electrum-NMC v220.127.116.11. This release (which is still based on upstream Electrum v3.3.8) includes a few high-demand new features and bug fixes that we wanted to get released before upstream Electrum tags v4.0.0.
2020-04-09 ZeroNet supports Namecoin as a naming layer. Unfortunately, the UX for this feature isn’t quite optimal. Specifically, the
.bit domain shows up in the path of the URL rather than the hostname; the hostname is the hostname of the machine running ZeroNet (typically
127.0.0.1). Can this be improved?
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!
Official anouncements will also be made on this BitcoinTalk thread.
Help keep us strong. You can donate to the Namecoin project here.