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    Understanding Urbit osdev urbit.org
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    To me the style of this seems incredibly pretentious (esp with the whole MEGACORP and whatnot)

    There’s also basically no technical information about how they plan to accomplish this absolute ubiquity with logging into any computer using it, buying a coffee with it, etc… These sort of things require incredibly widespread adoption and I really don’t think this pipedreamy project is ever going to reach that.

    Also, the moment they started talking about blockchain/ethereum I lost interest. The whole purpose of blockchain is, from what I can tell, a totally public immutable database, effectively. I really don’t want every bit of my digital life in some system that I can’t wipe it from.

    The only way I think this would seem worse is if they were hyping some token they wanted people to invest in.

    Some other things:

    According to their blog - “Urbit … includes money as a native service”

    Why should an OS have anything to do with money?

    “Creating a new sound currency, however is not our goal; Bitcoin has already done that.”

    lol no it hasn’t.

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      Ethereum is only used to assign IDs. All the rest of the data is stored in a file system. As for technical info, everything is open source https://github.com/urbit

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        “Imagine that you can login from anywhere with one simple, memorable name and password. And when you do, an entire OS appears for you. Inside is your whole digital life.”

        So if it’s just stored in a filesystem, how is it distributed to anywhere you can log in?

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          It works over a network… except instead of logging into facebooks servers, you log into your own server

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            So now I have to set up a server? Either by paying for a VPS (on a computer I don’t own, going against the whole concept…) or set it up so my own home computer acts as a server? So now I have to expose my home network to the internet, go through all the trouble of setting that all up…

            Yeah no thanks. If they want their shit to be the “way of the future” they better have it more ironed out than this.

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              The whole point of Urbit is to make it as easy to setup a personal cloud as it is to setup iOS. You don’t have to do any Linux sysadmin stuff, you just run Urbit and it does all the networking and security and updates etc. All of this is explained in the documentation. It’s a work in progress and it’s not quite push-button yet, but it’s getting there and it’s already better than any alternative.

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                Suppose you set up urbit for the first time on your local PC and use it for a while. Let’s say you create a document in your part of the (virtual) urbit filesytem.

                Now, throw that PC away and get a new one. Don’t back up anything except your urbit credentials or keys or whatever.

                Reinstall urbit, log in. Wait for it to sync. Look, there’s your document.

                I’ve heard something about hypothetical “urbit hosting” as a service in the future. That would get you out of the VPS/personal PC requirement.

                This is my obligatory statement regarding how the people behind urbit rub me the wrong way. The basic idea behind their plan to make their distributed system popular is novel and appealing, though. They have made low-level stuff available first–arcane toys that only the most elite hobbyists can even assemble, much less build anything with. Then, when abstraction and convenience layers are built over that, they release those and make the documentation a little more mainstream.. They’re building from the bottom up, rather than trying to make a web 2.0 shiny 30mb javascript monstrosity and sell it directly to muggles. They recognize that old computers and networks weren’t accessible to the uninitiated, and those systems took over the world. I worry about these people.

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                  According to bsima, I’m strictly wrong about deleting your local info and also keeping it. See https://lobste.rs/s/c5gp8j/understanding_urbit#c_xxca9r

                  (I’m not completely convinced, but that user sounds like they know much more about urbit than I do.)

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          Also, all the names they give for everything make me want to gag. It all sounds like wannabe-Sci-Fi names for stuff. Behn, Eyre, Gall, Jael, Arvo, Hoon, Nock, Vere… come on.

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          Your Urbit ID gets you a name, an address, and a crypto wallet

          It took way too long reading this site to figure out whether or not this was just another cryptocoin thing. Rebel against massive centralizations of capital with our platform for monetary exchange! Wait a second, where have I heard this before…

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            I like the sleek presentation style, and I see the appeal of decentralised social networking software. My values don’t necessarily align with the values of a few Californian individuals who have managed to politick their way into a position of immense power.

            As a layman however, the following sentence worries me (emphasis my own):

            Your Urbit is a permanent, private archive.

            I’m not comfortable with the idea of a permanent record for social data. How would I then disown the moody poetry I wrote as a 13 year old? Will it haunt me forever?

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              No because it’s private data

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              From the “Your Last Computer” page:

              Imagine that you can login from anywhere with one simple, memorable name and password. And when you do, an entire OS appears for you. Inside is your whole digital life. Every conversation you’ve ever had, all your biometric data — every step and heartbeat. Your personal mesh of devices: your doors, your car, your irrigation. All of your communities, every message you’ve shared with friends and family. Every connection you’ve made and every archival piece of data, in one place. Secure and private, forever.

              Wow, no. Hell to the no.

              (Am I understanding correctly that this vast quantity of sensitive information would be stored in a public blockchain, protected only by non-quantum-safe encryption?)

              ETA: Also, from https://urbit.org/understanding-urbit/urbit-id/ it looks like they support only 4 billion Urbit IDs, which is already fewer than the number of people on the planet.

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                To me it’s clear that the last 3 billion to sign up are considered non-people by the design of the system. They don’t deserve to participate as equals - they must act as servants or sharecroppers to the 4 billion “planet” addresses for access to Urbit.

                Urbit seeks to stratify it’s users into classes. This document by founder Curtis Yarvin describes the system as “digital feudalism.” https://github.com/cgyarvin/urbit/blob/6ac688960687aa9c89d4da6fff49a3125c10aca1/Spec/urbit/3-intro.txt

                The founder Curtis Yarvin wrote a “philosophy” blog for a while that describes his viewpoint as “neo-monarchism”.

                I looked for a summary of this context and found this Verge article from 2017: https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/21/14671978/alt-right-mencius-moldbug-urbit-curtis-yarvin-tlon

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                  Currently the feudal lords of the internet are Zuck, Dorsey, etc. Urbit’s aim is to move users’ data from centralized servers at Facebook/Twitter datacenters into somewhere you personally control. The network governance is modeled after a republic, so it’s actually an improvement from what we have currently. And Yarvin is no longer part of the project, any of his philosophy has been stripped from Urbit (if it was ever there to begin with).

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                    And Yarvin is no longer part of the project, any of his philosophy has been stripped from Urbit (if it was ever there to begin with).

                    The fundamental idea of Urbit (buried under the slick marketing, and the weird esoteric programming language) is digital scarcity - replicating the scarcity of physical land on this planet in cyberspace.[1] Once the system is up and running, those that control the land can extract rents, or exclude those under them from occupying land they control, or entering strategic partnerships with other land owners… this is where Yarvin/Moldbug’s ideals of “digital feudalism” are expressed.

                    “Normal” ideals of cyberspace assume that scarcity has no place there - stuff like information and software can be replicated endlessly at very little marginal cost. Urbit explicitely rejects this.

                    Now, I don’t have a problem with this concept intellectually. People have different ideals and projects for the future of digital governance. But hackers interested in contributing to Urbit should understand the trade-offs they would be making, as opposed to contributing to a more “mainstream” project.

                    [1] this is anologous to Bitcoin being considered “digital gold”.

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                      So you must also be against ICANN and their limited TLD designations? And against Twitter/Facebook for limiting users (shadow banning)?

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                        Where in my comment did I say anything that made you assume I hold the opinions you ascribe to me?

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                          These are also artificially scarce resources

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                            ICANN is insufficiently regulated and holds an artificial monopoly. There’s no technical limitation to prevent everyone on earth having their own TLD Edit apparently there is a hard-coded character limit to the TLD. That said, I welcome competition in this space and would like to see ICANN lose its monopoly.

                            Facebook and Twitter identities are not artificially limited de facto - the services are awash in bots.

                            And in any case, I stated the following:

                            […] I don’t have a problem with this concept intellectually. People have different ideals and projects for the future of digital governance.

                            I just wish that people pushing Urbit would be honest about the project’s ultimate goals.

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                      I would assume, though, that Yarvin must be a Galaxy owner, giving him explicit power over what gets built and who gets added to the Urbit network.

                      The whole situation with Galaxies in general is problematic: it seems like they’re designed to lock in power over the network to 256 people, and there is no sanctioned way to transfer that power if the ruler does not want to give up their key. This is what people mean by “baking in” his philosophy into the design of Urbit.

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                        Galaxies can change hands like any other cryptographic asset. It just hasn’t been tried yet (afaik). Galaxies have power like ISPs have power, that doesn’t stop you from switching ISPs or running stuff on your own computer.

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                          Yes, and most people dislike their ISP.

                          More importantly, though, it’s not like there’s any hard reason you can’t have more ISPs. The internet is built to accommodate any number of them, it’s only the fact that it’s expensive that’s preventing competition.

                          Same with social networks today: there’s not much reason you can’t operate your own, and many people do, through Mastodon and the like. It’s only market forces that keep people on the small number of dominant networks.

                          Meanwhile in Urbit, it’s specifically designed such that a limited group of 256 people have dominion over everyone in the system. This group of people cannot be removed or competed against within the bounds of the system unless you convince them to sell their assets.

                          For a system that’s aiming to replace all computing, that’s a scary prospect.

                          And that’s only assuming that only one person will own each galaxy: we could easily see power consolidation via existing galaxy owners buying other galaxies.

                          Much as this page is getting high and mighty about the MEGACORP, I don’t see it as a preferable alternative.

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                            Very fair.

                            Except: are there 256 ISPs? I mean, nominally is one thing. Practically?

                            (I don’t know the answer to this question.)

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                              In any one location, likely no. Across the entire world, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number greatly exceeds 256, especially if you count cell phone service providers.

                              Urbit, in contrast, is intended to be a global system, and has a hard limit of 256 leaders for all people on their system.

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                      The most entertaining read about Curtis Yarvin is Neoreaction a Basilisk, by Elizabeth Sandifer. I found a good review of it, though I read it over a year ago.

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                        I backed this on Kickstarter, but I don’t think I’ve actually read it… thanks for the reminder!

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                        After seeing everyone start to gush over this for the past couple days I was legitimate wondering if this was the same project as the one I remember being described as ‘digital feudalism’.

                        This is a plain attempt for a few people to solidify their power over the next iteration of web technologies so I think it is absolutely legitimate to call out their philosophy (which, again some people in this thread are saying isn’t relevant). This is a power structure we can still opt-out of, and I’m inclined to do so.

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                        You are misunderstanding. Urbit does not store data on a blockchain. It uses a file system like Unix.

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                          So when they say « you can login from anywhere with one simple, memorable name and password », where is the « one place » that data is streaming down from?

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                            An Urbit server running wherever you have it running

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                              Wait, this implies that if your server is destroyed, you lose data. That’s incorrect, right? Everything in your server (node) is also stored across other nodes, and your node helps store other people’s data, right? Did I get this wrong?

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                                Afaik there is no replication currently, but you could certainly create an Urbit app that does the replication across certain machines. It would be a lot easier to make in Urbit than Linux because the network stack is tightly integrated with the rest of the programming environment.

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                                That seems like an extremely important thing to have mentioned in the first page or two, floating at least somewhere in all the Glorious Future marketing talk. -.-

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                            Regarding the 4B IDs, an ID is analogous to a phone number. There are about 4B active mobile phone numbers, and mobile phones seem to work ok, so it’ll probably work out https://www.statista.com/statistics/274774/forecast-of-mobile-phone-users-worldwide/

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                              From the way they talk about all this, it seems like they want it to last for an incredibly long time, they make it sound like they want it to last literally thousands+ years.

                              Sounds like the 4B limit isn’t really up to the task of lasting thousands of years and becoming an extremely widespread standard for computing.

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                                Let’s start with this decade first… increasing the 4B limit will be a good problem to have.

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                                    I’m really not following what you’re talking about, at all.

                                    1. [Comment removed by author]

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                              Oh boy, even more to add to this.

                              The guy who created it, Curtis Yarvin is extremely right-wing and has been described as “the Alt right’s favorite philosophy instructor”.

                              Big oof.

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                                Personally I’m fine with using, discussing and even contributing to a software system created by someone whose politics I don’t agree with.

                                P.S. for anyone interested in a thoughtful, thorough criticism of Yarvin’s political philosophy, I recommend this Slate Star Codex article: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-faq/

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                                  Yeah. How much of your system runs GNU? (Rhetorical question.) Stallman isn’t less politically charged than Yarvin, even before the recent comments; the difference is that Stallman leaned left, which is more accepted in the affluent intellectually-oriented minds of software people

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                                    From what I’ve seen Stallman leaned libertarian (socially left, fiscally right).

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                                      I don’t think it’s accurate to describe Stallman as a libertarian. As far as I’m aware, he describes himself as a socialist and holds non-free-software-related political views that are generally consistent with the left wing of American politics, including fiscally. Many of his views on software freedom are consistent with some strains of libertarianism, but I think it’s ultimately a limitation of the “left-right” metaphor when talking about political beliefs to describe him as otherwise socially left, fiscally right.

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                                        he describes himself as a socialist

                                        I don’t know if he does. I remember reading an essay by him claiming that free software is not socialist, but I can’t find it right now. I think is more likely that he regards himself as more in the classical liberal tradition.

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                                          Stallman is a democratic socialist, historically supporting the US’s Green Party and Bernie Sanders.

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                                  I was wondering how long it would be before someone would chime in with this tired bit of commentary.

                                  Every comment you’ve left in this thread has been inflammatory and off-topic. The Urbit guy wrote some things you don’t like. We get it. The weird thing to me is the most hysterical people who constantly yell at those they deem right-wing also have funny ideas about when prejudice is acceptable, i.e., punching down vs punching up, power dynamics, etc. How much authority or power do you think CY/MM has?

                                  This is a horrendously boring topic, and you have made this forum a more boring place for having brought it up. Please just stop. Let’s focus on technology.

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                                    The piece of technology was founded by someone with very strong visions as to what society should be, which means that in the software, there are design decisions being made to align with this. In this case, there’s a very strange belief in a feudalistic system where - even if the names were changed from lords/dukes/etc. to galaxies/planets/etc. - this influence still exists in the software. I believe it bears mentioning.

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                                    Yep. He’s said some horrendous things and excluded a lot of people. I have no interest in this project if it can’t bring itself to align with the values of the community.

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                                      The tendency to universalize one’s values creates a problematic blind spot for a great many people

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                                        Kind of seems like it has, though? Or at least they kicked him out and erased his name from their public intro, probably other places. I guess it’s down to who exactly you mean by “the” community.

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                                      Maybe Lloyd H. Wood can fetch me an Urbit ID…

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                                        FYI, I used two web search engines for that name and still don’t understand your comment.

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                                          Haha, well, I guess the decline of DejaNews and Google Groups is to blame for that.

                                          This took me longer to find than I expected and totally no in the place that I expected: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/lmao-best-putdown-ever.1086277/#post-8029713