Software Spotlight: Bitmessage
Posted by professorkaos64
Bitmessage is one cool piece of software. There are a lot of good things about it, but also a few pitfalls to watch out for. In concept, Bitmessage is a P2P communications protocol in which you can send encrypted messages to others through special IDs or “subscribers.” Being decentralized in nature, it is a much desired messaging system for those who do not wish to be identified. Bitmessage is built on Python, enabling it to be cross-platform.
Authentication is strong and a paramount feature of the software, deterring spoof attacks and avoids storage of “non-content” data from the sender and receiver. This includes identifying information that may finger either side. In doing so, Bitmessage sidesteps eavsdroppers and wiretappers who are clawing at breadcrumbs for potential “threats.”
The one thing that is not quite there yet is an audit of the software itself. Bitmessage carefully puts this disclaimer right on the homepage. The source code is available however, on the github site. If you are interested, there is also a very comprehensive whitepaper.
As far as I know, you have to compile Bitmessage unless a distro you use, has a user-generated package available (such as the AUR on Arch Linux). Below are compile instructions that should get you going on Linux. The full set of instructions can be found here.
Install the dependencies
APT-based distributions (Debian, Ubuntu):
sudo apt-get install python openssl git python-qt4
Raspberry Pi (Raspbian “wheezy”, PiBang):
sudo apt-get install python-qt4
RPM-based distributions (Red Hat, Fedora):
sudo yum install python openssl git
sudo pacman -S python2 openssl git python2-pyqt
Optionally, you can install the Bitmessage daemon , sidestepping Qt as a requirement. You will also then need the API. Additinally this requires a keys.dat file if you haven’t run Bitmessage yet, After doing this, you will have the keys.dat file.
Install the client:
To install bitmessage, perform the following:
git clone https://github.com/Bitmessage/PyBitmessage $HOME/PyBitmessage cd $HOME/PyBitmessage/src/ && python bitmessagemain.py
This will install the necessary files for the python client. You can modify the $HOME path to be another directory, if desired.
Upgrading Bitmessage is fairly easy:
cd $HOME/PyBitmessage/src/ git pull origin master python bitmessagemain.py
Bitmessage is pretty straightforward after installation. To clarify, the official client is “PyBitmessage,” and Bitmessage is just the protocol. You will need the “ID” of the person you will be sending the message to. Also available are blacklists, and an Address book. Be very careful when whitelisting or blacklisting, as it is not something to take lightly. Bitmessage also will give you several options, including making multiple identities to receive mail from.
The inbox is where all your received messages will reside. Down at the bottom of the screen you will see the context of any selected message, which allows copying and editing the message but it does not save any changes. The context menu in the message list provides additional features, such as HTML view or reply option. If you use the HTML view it will render some HTML tags from the message, like images. Hitting delete will move the current message to trash.
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