Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions about RetroShare.


Contents

GENERAL QUESTIONS.

What’s so great about RetroShare anyways?

Retroshare is designed as a "Secure Social Network". It allows you to communicate and share with your friends. Retroshare provides Instant Messaging and Filesharing with decentralised Forums and Channels.

One big feature of Retroshare is privacy: Your stuff is only shared with your trusted friends. No data is stored in the Cloud, and all communications are encrypted. You don't have to trust a Corporation (e.g Facebook or Google) with your information.

Why would I want to share using RetroShare?

RetroShare allows you to share information and files with only the people you want to allow. We use it to access information when away from home, and to share stuff with friends.

What is a Friends-to-Friends network?

Friend to Friend (F2F) is the new paradigm after peer-to-peer (P2P). In a P2P network you connect to random peers all over the world. A F2F network only connects with to your trusted friends. This makes the network significantly more private and secure. See the Wikipedia for F2F, linked in our Link-Section.

How many people are required for a working RetroShare network?

People have recommended that you start off with a group of about 5 people to make Retroshare worthwhile.

Because RetroShare is a private network, it doesn't really matter how many people use RetroShare. The network will function well with only a couple of friends, or 50 friends.

Of course, the amount of material and the network availability both improve as your friendlist grows. Remember that a RetroShare connection allows direct secure communication only between the two peers/friends, and no one else. The amount of available shared files increases as you Instant Message with RetroShare to more and more friends.

As you connect to more people the AutoDiscovery system introduces you to the friends of friends. You can accept or deny to connect to friends of friends (one hop only is offered!!) This allows the network to expand and develop if you have not enough friends to be your trusted friends.

But it is recommended to tell all your friends to Chat with RetroShare, because then you have enough trusted direct friends and do not rely on friends of friends to keep the network up. Just tell your friends and commit each other to be constant online with RetroShare, then you have always only trusted friends online.

Is RetroShare private and secure?

Of Course RetroShare is private and secure ;)

RetroShare enables you to create a secure network with your friends. This is achieved by only connecting to peers that have been explicitly approved (added as friends) by you. Furthermore all communication between peers is encrypted using standard OpenSSL techniques. RetroShare is a private network as long as you only connect to people you know. Your security primarily depends on the reliability of the people you connect to. Connect to trustworthy people and you will be safe. Allow anyone to connect - who knows what will happen.

Is RetroShare anonymous?

RetroShare is partly anonymous. There are anonymous forums and channels where no one can tell who posted something and you can download files from people your are not connected to anonymously, using anonymous tunnels. However the people you are connected to, know who you are and know your IP address. They can also see which files you are sharing, unless you mark them as not browsable. No one else on the network can see this information.

The friends of your peers also know of your existence, and can attempt to connect to you through the Auto-Discovery system, but they can't connect to you unless you add them as friends.

Why should I maintain another IM-Network, when I'm barely able to keep my ICQ/MSN/GTalk contacts in sync?

RetroShare allows you to chat with your friends with the guarantee that no third party is able to eavesdrop on you. RetroShare is also more than just an instant messenger like MSN or Yahoo, it is also a private p2p file sharing network. You can share files with your friends, search for your friends' files and even download from people you're not directly connected to.



Getting Started

How do you download and install RetroShare?

This varies on different operating systems.

See this guide: Install Guide

How do I connect to a Friend?

Send him your certificate and ask him to send you his. Add his certificate. If UPnP and DHT is working you should be able to connect.

Which certificate must I send?

Your certificate. You can find it in the "Add a Friend wizard" the top button in the left-hand toolbar.

How do I get a RetroShare Certificate

Your certificate is generated when you start up the program for the first time and create your profile.

Why won't it connect?

There are several reasons why you and a friend will not connect:

Firstly, You must have added their certificate, and they must have added your Certificate, too. If one of you hasn't added the other's Certificate, it will not connect. RetroShare notifies you if an "Unauthorized Person" tries to connect to you or if you can't connect to your friend because he hasn't added you yet.

Secondly, at least one of you should have a "Forwarded Port", because if both of you are firewalled then it takes longer to connect or the connection fails completely. This is the most likely cause and something we are fixing at the moment: See the answer to the next question.

For more help post a message on the Sourceforge project forum.

Can I connect from behind a Firewall? How Do I set the Firewall?

Yes you can.

  • If UPnP is working
You will not need to perform any extra steps. Currently:
  • Under Linux: UPnP works (if your router has it enabled)
  • Under OSX: UPnP works as of RetroShare version 0.5.3a (if your router has it enabled)
  • Under Windows: [Please update this page if you know whether RetroShare's UPnP support is now reliable under Windows]
  • If you can configure your firewall/NAT
    See the port forwarding section for how to set up port forwarding on your firewall/NAT. This ensures all of your friends will be able to connect to you.
  • If you can't configure your firewall/NAT
    RetroShare can still connect to any of your friends who have UPnP working or have set up port forwarding, or are not behind a firewall. To connect to any other friends, you can use RetroShare relay servers.

How do I enable Port Forwarding in my Router/NAT?

(If you don't know what port forwarding is, there are many guides available online. Friends who use BitTorrent or play multiplayer games on their computer are also likely to know about it)

You can find which port RetroShare is using in the options, in the Server section. You need to forward this port on the router to your PC running RetroShare (the protocol type is both TCP and UDP). Also, you can change the network setting in RetroShare to "External (Forwarded) Port".

If you are reading this on the computer RetroShare runs on (or behind the same firewall) and RetroShare is currently running, you can confirm the port is correctly forwarded.

What is a relay and do I need one?

Relays are a fall-back solution which allow users who are behind firewalls to connect to each other even when they are otherwise unable to configure their firewall for RetroShare. Any of your friends running a recent version of RetroShare can act as relay servers (provided their firewall is configured or they are not behind a firewall).

Relay settings can be found in Options->Relays, some information about what the settings mean has been posted to the forum

If you wish to use relays you need relay servers to connect to. Have any friends that you can connect to raise the bandwidth cap of their "Friends" relay slot, then go to your own relay settings, enable the "Use Relay Servers" checkbox, and add your friends to the server list.

[Please update this page if you know whether relay server DHT keys need to be added manually, and if so, whether this is the intention for future releases]

[Please update this page if you know the proper way to obtain a Server Dht Key]

The following information is untested:

To add someone to the server list you need the DHT key of their computer, this is a hexadecimal string (i.e it consists only of numbers and/or the letters 'a' through to 'f') and is 40 characters long - it is not the RetroShare PeerID (which is a hexadecimal string that's 32 characters long).
DHT keys can be obtained via the "Dht Details" window (in Windows this is located in the right-click menu of the Retroshare system tray icon). In the "Dht Details" window, the DHT key is listed in the "PeerId" column (but again, this is not to be confused with the 32 character long RetroShare "PeerId"). To extract a DHT key, click on it and press Ctrl-C before the selection disappears, then paste into notepad and remove the IP address from the end.

DOWNLOADING & SHARING

Who should I get to sign my Certificate?

Your friends who trust you and have verified that your certificate is yours should sign your certificate.

Why if my friends Certificate is not approved by RetroShare?

Should I Sign this Certificate?

Only sign certificates if you are able to verify that the certificate belongs to the person you think it does.

How do you verify a certificate?

If you transfer the certificate via a USB drive you can verify the certificate. Also, if you were to verify the checksum of the certificate in person or over the phone with the person if you recognize their voice.

Does my friend need RetroShare to receive files?

Yes.

How do I know if another RetroShare Friend has shared something for me?

Your friends shared files will be listed in the right side of the "Files" tab. There may be a slight delay in updating this list. You may need to click on the pluses to expand folders that your friend has to see all the files in them.

If it's a specific file you're waiting for, you can also use the "Search" tab, either searching for the file name itself or searching for new files.

Ideally your friend would send you a recommendation for the file once they've made it available, as this causes RetroShare to alert you about the file.

How do I send a file to someone on my contact list?

Main article - Filesharing

Make the file available over RetroShare, then (optionally) send a "recommendation" to it, or send a RetroShare link.

If you want to send a link or recommendation to the file, then after placing the file in one of your RetroShare-shared folders, go to the "Files" tab and locate the file in the "My Directories" panel (If no "My Directories" panel is showing, its visibility is controlled by 3 icons at the top-right). If the new file is not yet listed alongside your other files in the "My Directories" panel, you may need to click the "check files" button and wait for the new file to be hashed.

Once you've found the new file in the "My Directories" panel, right-click on it and select "Recommend in a message to" or "Copy retroshare Link". Sending a recommendation will cause RetroShare at their end to alert them about the new file and provide a simple way for them to start downloading. If you wish to notify someone about multiple files then group-select the files from the "My Directories" panel before you right-click "Recommend in a message to".

If you're regularly sending files then you might like RetroShare channels.

Can RetroShare Transfer Files over 2 GB?

RetroShare now supports transfers of Large (> 2GB) Files.

Does RetroShare support resuming for transferred files?

Yes.

Can I download the same file from several users?

Yes. RetroShare searches through all your friends files looking for a matching file hash. Once it finds a friend that has a file with a matching hash it will begin downloading the file from that friend. RetroShare also tries to download from people you're not directly connected to using RetroShare's turtle F2F ability.

RetroShare supports downloading from multiple friends in parallel (swarming).

How fast is the upload and download speed?

Depends on your connection and other traffic, but it is usually limited by the upload capacity of the user uploading.

What can I share using RetroShare?

You can share any file type with RetroShare: Pictures, videos and documents.


TECHNICAL

How does RetroShare know my friend's IP address and port? Why don't I need a static IP address? What is DHT for?

RetroShare posts your IP/Port information to a Distributed Hash Table (DHT). Other RetroShare clients in your network can query the DHT to find your IP/port information to connect to you. The DHT acts as a 'third-party' which everyone can access.

As of version 0.5.1a, RetroShare uses BitTorrent's DHT. Earlier versions of RetroShare used a network that is no longer running, or had the DHT feature removed.

Retroshare clients also propagate IP/port updates through the F2F network. Provided there is at least one node with an address you're able to obtain via DHT or Dynamic DNS, you will be able to connect to that node and be provided with the IP/port updates for any common nodes that have changed.

To keep the network stable you should have DHT enabled, or have others on your network supporting DHT or with Dynamic DNS.

What is turtle F2F?

Turtle F2F allows you to download files from a friend's friend's computer by relaying an anonymous request via your common trusted friend.

Use the "Search" tab to locate files network-wide (from your friends, their friends and so on, up to 7 hops), because the "Files" tab will only displays files from your immediate friends (and only files that have marked as being browsable).

Set your folders to be shared network-wide to enable anonymous sharing to friends of your friends.

More information on RetroShare turtle hopping

How does the security/privacy work?

TODO

What does "Trust" mean in RetroShare?

TODO

What is the AUTH(enticate) Code for?

This is no longer used. The AUTH code was a 4 character Hexadecimal number derived from your certificate. It was designed as extra Authentication for your friends.

Is RetroShare Open source?

The licensing scheme for the different parts of RetroShare is:

  • openSSL :BSD style
  • KadC :GPL + exception (asked author for exception)
  • threads :LGPL
  • RetroShare LIbrary :LGPL
  • RetroShare GUI + QT :GPL + exception.

Where have you released the source code?

Latest sources are available on Sourceforge at http://sourceforge.net/projects/retroshare/files/RetroShare/


MISCELLANEOUS

How do I run RetroShare on an additional computer

You can do this by copying your certificate to your second computer and creating a new location there.

Note: This is only works for version 0.5.4 and above, for older versions you have to manually copy your gpg keyring to your new computer.

  1. On your first computer, export your identity (private PGP key) to a file:
    • Either from the login window -> key management -> export
    • Or in the main window -> friends -> profile -> Profile manager
  2. Then start RetroShare on your second computer
  3. Use the import button to load your exported identity file
  4. Create a new location with this identity and start RS.
  5. Exchange certificates between your two locations => you will get all keys from your friends thanks to the discovery system
  6. Accept them as friends (that's not automatic) => the friends locations will come on connection (may needs an RS restart)

Important: Do not create a new profile/certificate but only a new location

Is Jabber XMPP used for the Message transfer protocol?

No. The messenger uses a proprietary protocol.

Could other Services be provided over this type of Private Network?

Yes.

Is there a plugin for the Telepathy framework or Pidgin?

Not yet! Maybe you wanna start coding? :-)

Why are your mailing-lists and your website in English?

RetroShare's developers come from all around the world and English is the only language they can use to communicate together. Although great care is given to the translation of RetroShare in various languages, maintaining translations of our website costs too much more time than we can afford.

What to do if I can't find an answer to my question here?

Have a look at the Wiki.

Search the forums for your question. There are many solutions to problems on using our programs.

If your question still was not answered, post it on the forums or mail a fitting mailing-list.

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