Blog de AlterMundi

Mesh Networks for activists

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This is an interview to Vadim, a volunteer from a Workers Cooperative from Germany that gave technical support to the Klimacamp.
Klimacamp is a yearly demonstration/camp against the coal mines in Germany.
This year it has gathered around 3000 people during one week of activities.
They used LibreMesh to distribute Internet around the camp.
We share this with the hope that it might inspire other activists on using Mesh Networks like LibreMesh to support your actions.

Vadim:
Hi!
Some impressions from klimacamp
First some of the Facts:
We used 3 Sats with 100GB Volume each, 12 LibreMesh routers, 3 LEDE routers, 3 different kinds of seperated networks, one for VOIP

Nico:
3 separated networks: how many routers each? all of them libremesh? how did you used the 3 Sats?
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Vadim:
Each LEDE router was connected with one Sat, all 3 networks where working over LiMe (one network with just 2 routers, and the other 2 networks with the rest of the routers).
One Sat was reserved for phone connection (voip), which worked quite well.
The other 2 Sats for general traffic.
We also used a VPN for the connections from the LEDE routers.

Nico:
and how were (the LibreMesh routers) working?
Vadim:
For most use cases the traffic was ok, but for the media people it was too slow.

Nico:
What was the speed of the SATS?
Vadim:
They should have been 20MBIT each but in reality they where slower.

Nico:
And how many people were on the whole camp?
Vadim:
We don’t now exactly, but roundabout 2000-3000, but there where never so many people online because we only had public internet in one area of the camp.

Nico:
The network served a 2000-3000 activists camp, successfully.

Vadim:
I think manly for structure cause most people had Internet with their phones… the good thing is satellite is not infected if too many people use LTE and on the country side it is often limited.

Nico:
So, Libremesh was useful for the distribution of the Internet for your own internal usage, and for those who needed it.
But there was not much need of it because of availability of mobile.
Vadim:
Yeah, that’s right. i think some people were using it with some of the open laptops for people who don’t have a connection and some with there own smartphone/laptop.

LiMe was useful for our case. In the past we where using qmp, but LiMe was really nice to cook for different kind of secured networks.
We had only one bug that we just solved with a restart: sometimes a router in the mesh was not connecting to the mesh. This happened over all the time maybe once or twice a day.
The main problem is that we couldn’t figure out why sometimes they where not connecting. Even the logs didn’t give us a hint.
We wanted to get some information about why they didn’t connect to be able to report it, but we couldn’t find the reason there.

Nico:
No worries… but just knowing that the bug is around it is already valuable information to dig into it.
Vadim:
The problem was it was randomly (like over 90% of the time it was working quite nice) and the electricity was also not stable (solar sometimes was backed up by generators), so the electricity was more the problem than the Libremesh bug ;)
Good that worked well 90% of the time

Nico:
OK… Can you tell me what was the most relevant use that you used LibreMesh for during the Camp? (journalists, calls, ...)
Vadim:
I think the most relevant was for the organization including journalists, infrastructure, and political groups including a reliable phone connection.

Nico:
So… do you had the chance to talk about the infrastructure with any visitor/participant? any comments from them?
Vadim:
Yeah most respond nicely, but all did know that there a many problems on the field like electricity, manpower, hardware….
The media people where disappointed because of the bandwidth, but this had nothing to do with LiMe.

Nico:
In your opinion, after this experience… what do you think can be improved?
Vadim:
I think the main thing for us is to have more time/manpower for the setting up…
For LiMe whe have the encrypted network as a main topic… but we managed to solve it with our individual setup using LiMe, we are impressed.

Nico:
So… could you use the encrypted mesh? or you couldn’t?
Vadim:
Yeah for shure with the hotfix i described in your GitHub
With this one it was working, without iw we didn’t get it to work.

Nico:
Why did you disabled APs here?
Vadim:
Because they where not meshing encrypted if they where on 2,4 and 5 ghz so we seperated mesh on 5 and AP on 2,4.

Nico:
Pau created an example for you to test:
https://github.com/libremesh/network-profiles/tree/master/libremesh/encrypt-11s
excelent!
can you try the version that he did for you? to ensure that it works as expected?
just go to the lime-sdk folder and:
```
git pull origin develop
./cooker —update-communities
./cooker -c ar71xx/generic —profile=tl-wdr4300-v1 —community=libremesh/encrypt-11s
```
if you have time… that would be a huge help for the community.
He commented this also on (https://github.com/libremesh/lime-packages/issues/208#issuecomment-329640371)[github].
Anyway… if you have time.
The most valuable things are that you have used it in a new scenario for us.
Vadim:
We can try maybe next week but i’m not shure if i find time.
Nico:
No worries… only if you can.

Vadim:
The other topic we wish to be improved is having an open router hardware which would be awesome like the project (https://librerouter.org)[you showed us] in Berlin.
Nico:
Yes… we are on that… hopefully by the end of the year!

Nico:
How did you powered them? did you run cables around the place? or you had solar panels next to each router?
Vadim:
Yes.
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Nico:
With encryption available and devices preflashed, you would be happy? what else could you add?
where there any communication in between the participants, or it was always with the open internet?
Vadim:
it was the only topic, because we love the options to configure the routers for different needs and this is realy nice with the communities and the cooker.
ah and there is a topic we remember, to limit users per router.

Nico:
Which would be the usecase?
Vadim:
Mostly for the open points, so we can put more routers on the public spot like the food area.
Stop accepting connections and announcing the network in case of reaching a certain amount of users…
Often in the areas there are other routers which overlap but the more far away didn’g get used and all people are probly on one router.
i get it
That is the usecase when you have a lot of people together in a small space.
Great! those sound like a good feature-list for activist demonstrations, and this is a typical situation on camps ;)

Nico:
is there any place where I can get more info about the venue?
Vadim:
The Camp site: http://www.klimacamp-im-rheinland.de/en/
Here is a english article about the protests:
http://www.dw.com/en/climate-camp/g-40260186
https://www.thenation.com/article/germanys-dirty-secret-climate-activists-take-aim-at-europes-largest-coal-industry/
https://www.degrowth.info/en/summer-school-2017/
https://www.ende-gelaende.org/en/press/press-review/

Nico:
Thanks!

Last modification date: Jan. 4, 2018, 9:06 p.m.
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