The is a device designed to facilitate sharing. There's onecatch, it isn't connected to the Internet, so you need to be close enough toconnect via Wi-Fi to this portable file server. This article outlines theproject and shows how to build your own.

In days of yore (the early- to mid-1990s) those of us using the"Internet", as it was, delighted in our ability to communicate withothers and share things: images, MIDI files, games and so on. These days,although file sharing still exists, that feeling of community has been leechedaway from the same activities, and people are somewhat skeptical ofsharing files on-line anymore for fear of a lawsuit or who's watching.

Enter David Darts, the Chair of the Art Department at NYU. Darts, aware ofthe Dead Drops (http://deaddrops.com) movement, was looking for a way forhis students to be able to share files easily in the classroom. Findingnothing on the market, he designed the first iteration of the .

"Protecting our privacy and our anonymity is closely related to the preservation ofour freedoms."—David Darts

Dead Drops

Dead Drops is an off-line peer-to-peer file-sharing network in public. Inother words, it is a system of USB Flash drives embedded in walls,curbs and buildings. Observant passersby will notice the drop and,hopefully, connect a device to it. They then are encouraged to drop orcollect any files they want on this drive. For more information, commentsand a map of all Dead Drops worldwide, go to http://deaddrops.com.

What Does David Darts Keep on His ?

A collection of stories by Cory Doctorow.

Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book.

DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album.

Girl Talk's Feed the Animals.

A collection of songs by Jonathan Coulton.

Some animations by Nina Paley.

(All freely available and released under some sort of copyleft protection.)

The is a self-contained file-sharing device that is designedto be simple to build and use. At the same time, Darts wanted somethingthat would be private and anonymous.

The doesn't connect to the Internet for this reason. It issimply a local file-sharing device, so the only thing you can do whenconnected to it is chat with other people connected to the box or sharefiles. This creates an interesting social dynamic, because you are forcedto interact (directly or indirectly) with the people connected to the.

The doesn't log any information. "The has no tool to track or identify users. If ill-intentionedpeople—or the police—came here and seized my box, they will never know who usedit", explains Darts. This means the only information stored about anyusers by the is any actual files uploaded by them.

The prototype of the was a plug computer, a wireless routerand a battery fit snugly into a metal lunchbox. After releasing thedesign on the Internet, the current iteration of the (and theone used by Darts himself) is built onto a Buffalo AirStation wirelessrouter (although it's possible to install it on anything running OpenWRT),bringing the components down to only the router and a battery. One branchof the project is working on porting it to the Android OS, and anotheris working on building a using only open-source components.

How to Build a

There are several tutorials on the Web site(http://wiki.daviddarts.com/_DIY) on how to set up a based on what platform you are planning on using. The simplest (andrecommended) way of setting it up is on an OpenWRT router. For thepurpose of this article, I assume this is the route you aretaking. The site suggests using a TP-Link MR3020 or a TP-Link TL-WR703N,but it should work on any router with OpenWRT installed that also hasa USB port. You also need a USB Flash drive and a USB battery(should you want to be fully mobile).

Adding USB Support to OpenWRT

USB support can be added by running the following commands:opkg updateopkg install kmod-usb-uhciinsmod usbcoreinsmod uhciopkg install kmod-usb-ohciinsmod usb-ohci

Assuming you have gone through the initial OpenWRT installation (I don'tgo into this process in this article), you need to make someconfiguration changes to allow your router Internet access initially(the software will ensure that this is locked down later).


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