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James Jones

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Dec 6, 2016, 6:15:58 AM12/6/16
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Is the project still operational?

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Jc Jones
​KK4VUS​

Ben Mendis

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Dec 6, 2016, 8:47:40 AM12/6/16
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No. None of us have worked on Byzantium for several years.

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James Jones

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Dec 6, 2016, 9:22:43 AM12/6/16
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Ben,

Sorry to hear that. It is/was a great idea. Any plans to pick it up in the future?

jcj   KK4VUS

On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 8:47 AM, Ben Mendis <ben.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
No. None of us have worked on Byzantium for several years.
On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 6:15 AM, James Jones <jc.j...@tuftux.com> wrote:
Is the project still operational?

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Jc Jones
​KK4VUS​

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Ben Mendis

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Dec 6, 2016, 11:14:10 AM12/6/16
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When we started Project Byzantium there were only a handful of alternatives which were in their infancy. A few years later there were more than a dozen projects that were as mature or more mature than our solution. Along the way we identified some fundamental drawbacks of our approach that could not be easily overcome and would preclude our ambitious goals.

Unless someone can convince me that there is a strong use case for our design, AND that no other active project can serve that use case as well or better, I don't see myself spending any more time on Project Byzantium. 

I see you are a HAM. Have you looked at HSMM-Mesh? http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/

I would also recommend Commotion Wireless. https://commotionwireless.net/


On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 9:22 AM, James Jones <jc.j...@tuftux.com> wrote:
Ben,

Sorry to hear that. It is/was a great idea. Any plans to pick it up in the future?

jcj   KK4VUS

On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 8:47 AM, Ben Mendis <ben.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
No. None of us have worked on Byzantium for several years.

On Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 6:15 AM, James Jones <jc.j...@tuftux.com> wrote:
Is the project still operational?

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Jc Jones
​KK4VUS​

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Martin

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Dec 6, 2016, 1:18:06 PM12/6/16
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Also check out Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network http://www.aredn.org/

Martin W6MRR

James Jones

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Dec 6, 2016, 1:27:36 PM12/6/16
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Martin, Ben -

Looks like there is activity out there amongst the Project By...

My Brother in Florida says one of the Linux groups that he attends has some hams working on HSMM-Mesh project. Hopefully, a system similar to Byzantium will emerge.

Thanks for the links. If others come to mind, let please pass it along.

jcj  KK4VUS

Maurycy Piecha

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Apr 11, 2017, 10:21:18 AM4/11/17
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Wayne Taylor

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Apr 11, 2017, 10:42:32 AM4/11/17
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sad :(
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Thanks!

Wayne

PS. Do you know where you came from, why you are here, or where you are
going? If not you better read this: http://wayneoutthere.com/road-map/

Ben Mendis

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Apr 11, 2017, 11:28:02 AM4/11/17
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I guess I might elaborate slightly.

Project Byzantium was a project that we started to fill a need. At the time we started the project we thought it could be game-changer and there wasn't a lot of active or practical interest in mesh networks. Specifically, ad-hoc mesh networking over WiFi was viewed very skeptically.

During the three or so years that Project Byzantium was active we help to redefine the context. We demonstrated that ad-hoc mesh networking over WiFi could work, and that it could be made simple to deploy and easy to use. We, and many other teams, published code, documentation, and thoughtful prose which carried the whole consumer wireless mesh community forward. We fostered some strong bonds with the members of other projects with overlapping goals an approaches. Toward the end of Project Byzantium's activity, we accepted grant money which propelled the team to deliver on some really amazing features at the expense of a lot of personal burnout.

By the end, when I looked back and re-evaluated the project, what I saw was that the context had changed (partially by us, and partially around us) in two competing ways. First, the wireless mesh networking community had really taken off and where there had been only a handful there were now dozens of similar projects overlapping with our own efforts, some of those projects were even eclipsing our progress. Second, through hands-on experience and conversations with subject matter experts we came to realize that there were some fundamental limitations to our approach which would end up limiting the utility of the project in the primary intended use case. That is, we built Project Byzantium to be a tool to aid in disaster relief efforts, and it was never really going to become an inexpensive or efficient replacement for the existing industry best practices.

After the burnout of hitting our grant milestones, and other personal life events, we all took a break from the project and upon reflection none of us were really motivated to pick it back up. Doing so would have meant either fundamentally changing the design of our solution, or fundamentally changing the target use case for the project. 

So we've let Byzantium go dormant. Of course, since it's an open source project and we documented all of our notes and ideas in public it's all available for anyone to pick up again at any time. If you think Byzantium is still relevant, you're more than welcome to take our code and our documentation and keep developing it further. So maybe Byzantium will live again some day, but I don't see any of the original team members being the ones to resurrect it.


That said, of course the lessons we learned and the expertise we gained by working on Project Byzantium was personally valuable and insightful. I think each of us developed a fuller understanding of all of the technologies we wrangled in order to bring the project to life. That has stayed with us all throughout our careers as well as our side projects. In our final months of working on Byzantium I came  up with at least half a dozen other project ideas that would be worth pursuing independently of Project Byzantium, and very recently I have even begun prototyping a few of those ideas to use them as a teaching tool for a new generation of open source developers.


If I'm honest, from my perspective there was really very little special sauce underlying Project Byzantium. Fundamentally, it was mostly an exercise in system and network administration, and packaging that up as a live Linux distribution. I can count on one hand the number of truly innovative ideas we contributed to community, the rest was just carrying the hard work of other developers that last mile to make it accessible to less technical users. 


One of the most important lessons I learned from my involvement in Project Byzantium and Community Wireless Networks more broadly is that it is rarely the technology which is problematic or even important. Fundamentally, it's an issue of community management and organization. If you can build a strong community, the technical challenges will become easy to overcome. If you really listen to your community, you might find that the technical challenge you're trying to solve isn't even the right problem to be focused on.


Project Byzantium is a cool technology solution in search of a problem. It stitches together a lot of underlying technologies which each have loads of potential to solve common real-world problems, but as a collection the value of the project may actually be less than the sum of it's parts. Most people who show interest in Byzantium are actually only interested in using some cross-section of the technologies we employed for addressing a completely different use case than the one we were designing around. In which case, they are really seeking our personal expertise in those underlying technologies, not the specific solution we designed using them. (If that sounds like you, we are all individually available as paid consultants. ;-)

Best of luck,
Ben the Pyrate


Wayne Taylor

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Apr 11, 2017, 12:43:52 PM4/11/17
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Hi Ben,

Thanks for the detailed reply and I'm sure this was valuable for everyone to read.

I'm very happy to participate in this, or any other mesh project but the fact of the matter that remains is that we are all still dependent on:

a) the internet and

b) telecoms

Both of these reliances should be motivation enough to work on this project (or something that has mass adaptation). 

The underlying danger here is that information itself, or, at the core, communication itself is held captive by a few people who have agendas that may not align with our own.

I don't want to need an ISP or a cell phone service in order to tell my family I love them, or to warn them of impending danger.

So, I'm hoping that we can rouse community in all of our own areas and get something like byzantium or byzantium itself back on fire. 

I totally understand burnout and the difficulty of projects so thank you very much for whatever it is you started here as it appears to be quite great in foundation.

Wayne


On 2017-04-11 08:28 AM, Ben Mendis wrote:
I guess I might elaborate slightly.

Project Byzantium was a project that we started to fill a need. At the time we started the project we thought it could be game-changer and there wasn't a lot of active or practical interest in mesh networks. Specifically, ad-hoc mesh networking over WiFi was viewed very skeptically.

During the three or so years that Project Byzantium was active we help to redefine the context. We demonstrated that ad-hoc mesh networking over WiFi could work, and that it could be made simple to deploy and easy to use. We, and many other teams, published code, documentation, and thoughtful prose which carried the whole consumer wireless mesh community forward. We fostered some strong bonds with the members of other projects with overlapping goals an approaches. Toward the end of Project Byzantium's activity, we accepted grant money which propelled the team to deliver on some really amazing features at the expense of a lot of personal burno
Wayne

PS. Do you know where you came from, why you are here, or where you are
going?  If not you better read this: http://wayneoutthere.com/road-map/
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to Byzantium+...@hacdc.org.

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Ben Mendis

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Apr 11, 2017, 1:16:06 PM4/11/17
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Hi Wayne,

Telecoms and the Internet are absolutely are large part of my life, and the lives of many other people. They are very important, and so far they are still (generally) quite robust. It's not perfect, but there are groups like the EFF, ISOC, and ISC (Internet Systems Consortium) who work very hard to protect our interests. Those are all groups you should follow closely and actively if you want to make sure your voice is heard regarding the global governance of the Internet (which really is itself a large mesh network that is the result of collaboration between a lot of different state governments, NGOs, public and private universities, and corporations). 

With regards to your comments on mass adoption and your concern over a small group having too tight of a control over the infrastructure, I think what you're referring to is more of a community wireless network. Project Byzantium was intended to be a short-term replacement for traditional infrastructure that could be rapidly deployed on cheap, commodity hardware to fill the gap between service interruption and service restoration. To achieve the aims you have expressed, you would really need a more permanent solution with dedicated (but still affordable and commercially available) hardware. I would recommend checking out Commotion Wireless for your Community Wireless Network (CWN) needs.

You might even go so far as to organize a local co-op ISP. It's an idea that has been kicked around quite a bit in the CWN community but so far I'm not aware of any that are actually operating. Still, there's no legal or technical reason that an ISP could not be operated as a cooperative. If your local community shares your concerns it might be a viable venture. Just beware that the major ISPs/Telcoms will fight you nearly every step of the way. Not out of deliberate malice, but out of a misguided fear of losing market share (a.k.a. revenue), which they have a legal obligation (to their shareholders) to mitigate at all costs.

As for needing an ISP or cell phone in order to communicate with your family, you don't. There are numerous alternative methods of communication. Admittedly, not all of them are as convenient, efficient, or user-friendly as the purpose-built consumer products and services that we are all familiar with. One option to consider is Amateur Radio. You can get licensed for free and the equipment is often relatively inexpensive. Using Amateur Radio you can communicate with others around the world, and you'll also become part of a large and active community of like-minded people. Many Hams are practiced at providing emergency communications, and they are often prepared to provide other forms of disaster relief as well. The are really a great group of people to become involved with.

Regards,
Ben


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Thanks!

Wayne

PS. Do you know where you came from, why you are here, or where you are
going?  If not you better read this: http://wayneoutthere.com/road-map/
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