Unpublished work-in-progress blogpost
Reinhard moved into Trizonia island in 2005, aboard his sailing boat, and lived in that port for the following 4 years. In the island there was only one internet connection, in a cafeteria. He talked with the owner and set up the first two nodes, one at the cafeteria and one in his boat. During those years he started researching mesh protocols, to find a better way to connect the boat and the cafeteria.
In 2009 now together with Ines they rented a house in the island, making a third node there, and around the same time a neighbour house joined the network, making 4 nodes in total (3 of which had their own direct uplink connection via DSL). Ines, being programmer and techie, helped to implement the first mesh routing protocol in the network: AWDS, the state-of-the-art Layer 2 routing protocol at that time. At some point they found B.A.T.M.A.N-Advanced (when that project was still in its infancy, i.e. very experimental software) and switched to that protocol, which is running until nowadays.
Soon, they managed to make a 8 kilometers longshot to Callithea (a nearby village in mainland) where there was no DSL service, and 3 nodes there got their first connection to the internet.
During the following years they built a solar node at the top hill of the island, and in general maintained the network running with around 10 nodes in total, with Reinhard and Ines acting as the technical wizards and experimenters.
In 2014 there was an unfortunate incident in Callithea: a user got into legal trouble while connected to the internet through the mesh, which meant the IP address corresponded to one of the friendly neighbours in Trizonia. The friendly neighbours then received the very unexpected visit of law officers, and while the issue was explained and nothing happened in the end, they were scared enough to tore down their node and leave the network. Worse, this very node included the longshot to Callithea, which left the 3 nodes in that village offline until nowadays.
In January 2015 Reinhard found LibreMesh and started tinkering with it. He was initially frustrated by the partial lack of documentation, tried to help some conversations on the mailing list did not lead to a collaboration, due to opposing views on how software and documentation should be developed. Unwilling to adopt a system he considered too complex for his use-case, he decided to include just the main lime-system, as well as cherrypicking other useful components like luci-mod-status, in the firmware he developed (“BRUCE”).
- Work in progress, just notes: ###
some pictures of the network are posted in facebook.com/i4free.gr
Ines developed a dashboard for the network in PHP
Reinhard Generates firmware using a vanilla OpenWrt buildroot, with a manually selected set of packages, and custom scripts put into files/
2500 devices were online in August 2017 (tourist high-season)
for remotely accessing the network did use zerotier in the past but had to switch it off: it was connected to Earth network, and memory consumption grew considerably with hundreds of peers connecting (presumably, port scanning?). Now that https://my.zerotier.com/ is available making it easy to set up a private network, zerotier will be reimplemented in the community network.
was collecting logs centrally with this script, using phplog in the server. they stopped collecting them since they found little use in the day-to-day. It was useful during specific debugging, like debugging DNS problems
the server was a VMWare image called SyslogAppliance from 2008,
for a couple of years they ran a splash page with advertisements, but it never really took off as an idea.