Workshops at the IFF 2016

Gui and Isa were representing AlterMundi at the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, Spain. In 2 sessions we shared our experiences from Quintana Libre, the beginnings of Delta Libre and the Fumaça Project in Brasil.

Many people asked us about building a network in other parts of the world like Nigeria, Colombia and Cuba. The first session was called Autonomous Wireless and GSM Networks

We invited Gio from Italia and people from guifi.net, to share the experiences of building mesh networks in different parts of the world.

Some participants in the audience already had experiences using a mesh network. For others it was the first contact with the topic. It was a great opportunity to share experiences, ideas for future projects and existing networks.

Some days later we offered a hands-on workshop Deploy an emergency Libre-Mesh network with local services

24 participants grouped together in teams and flashed several routers with Libre-Mesh firmware, spread them around, and tested the network with their own devices.

Questions were answered and analyzed. Diverse people came to join the workshop. After flashing the routers, we used different applications in the mesh like an etherpad, deployed live by one of the participants in their own laptop. Furthermore we collected ideas for local services that could be running within the mesh network.

Experiencias con Telefonía Celular Comunitaria

Hace un par de semanas, el martes 19 de enero de 2016, organizamos junto con Bruno de Nuvem.tk un workshop de GSM (telefonía celular) en Casa Nuvem, Rio de Janeiro. Empezamos con una ronda de presentaciones, donde quedó claro que la convocatoria había juntado un grupo muy interesante: un par de personas de Nuevas Fronteras del Control, un activista de Fight for the Future, otro de Tactical Tech, varias de Espectro Livre / Radio Livre, y gente de la Casa Nuvem, claro.

En total eramos unas 12 personas, y afortunadamente no era una reunión exclusivamente de hombres (como es habitual en talleres “técnicos”): 3 participantes eran mujeres, sin duda animadas por el ambiente inclusivo que caracteriza a Casa Nuvem.

Estuvimos haciendo una demostración práctica de una BTS (estación base) autogestionada (que trajo Bruno, originalmente instalada en el pueblo de Fumaça). Con el equipo sobre la mesa, nos registramos a la red con los celulares que tenia cada una, e hicimos llamadas de prueba entre participantes. Charlamos sobre las posibilidades de la tecnología, costos, desafíos legales y técnicos…

El hardware y software era el mismo que utilizan y desarrollan en Rhizomatica, grupo pionero del tema en el mundo, con el cual tuvimos la feliz oportunidad de colaborar en persona durante algunas semanas de noviembre de 2014.

En aquellos días, Luisa estaba haciendo un fotoreportaje, y Keka un documental (todavia en producción), ambos sobre el trabajo de Rhizomatica en la Sierra Norte de Oaxaca. Desde entonces, el proyecto en México ha crecido a pasos agigantados, llegando hoy en día a 16 comunidades que cuentan con su propio servicio de telefonía celular autogestionada.

Un poco antes en 2014, también Al & Griselda (de guifi.net) habian estado visitando a Rhizomatica en Oaxaca. Meses más tarde, junto con Bruno (de Nuvem) se propusieron replicar la experiencia de forma independiente (un hito siempre deseado en los proyectos descentralizados) en Brasil, y nos convocaron para dar una mano. Así, en julio de 2015 materializamos en conjunto la primera red comunitaria de Internet (estilo AlterMundi) con red GSM autogestionada (à la Rhizomatica) en el pueblo de Fumaça, Rio de Janeiro.

Tuvimos la suerte de conocer tambien a los rhizomaticos Dave y Kino que, luego de vivir en primera persona los avances, dificultades y aprendizajes de Rhizomatica durante el 2015, aportaron las novedades al encuentro de octubre en Nuvem compartiendo experiencias a lo largo de varias jornadas con gente de Nicaragua, Bielorusia, Estados Unidos, Brasil y Argentina.

Una ejemplo más de que, articulando movimientos y colectivos, vamos construyendo las redes sociales, afectivas y colaborativas que hacen posible el desarrollo de los proyectos que soñamos y concretamos.

Join us at Battle of the Mesh v9!

The Wireless Battle of the Mesh is an event that aims to bring together people from across the globe to test the performance of different routing protocols for ad-hoc networks, like Babel, B.A.T.M.A.N, BMX, OLSR, and 802.11s.

Many developers and community networkers will join the event to hack, test, discuss, explain and learn.

If you are interested in dynamic routing protocols or wireless community networks you can’t miss this event!

The BattleMesh is free of charge and open for all, every year we strive to keep participation costs low by negotiating deals for accommodation and food.

This year the event will take place from Sunday 1st to Saturday 7th of May 2016 in Porto, Portugal. The event is locally organized by INESC TEC, Porto, Portugal. INESC TEC stands for Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science and is a private non-profit research & development institute located on the campus of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (Portugal).

AlterMundi endorses and supports the Battle of the Mesh v9 because of the efforts made by its community to advance the field of wireless mesh networking and foster the development of grass-roots community networks.

It’s been three years since we last attended, so we’re eager to reunite again with old friends, and meet new interesting people, strengthening this worldwide community, contributing our South American experience and fostering collaboration. Last time (back in 2013), in the friendly environment that the BattleMesh creates, Libre-Mesh was born, out of this shared desire of summing up efforts. What next? Come join us and find out together!

AlterMundi will support the event by:

  • helping to promote the event, as always
  • bring members of AlterMundi to the event
  • give talks about progress of our group regarding wireless networks
  • help design tests scenarios and deploy them during the event

Many other communities endorse and support the Wireless Battle of The Mesh v9 and an up to date list of the endorsers of the Battlemesh v9 can be found at the main Battlemesh website.

If you are interested in coming join the event’s Mailing List to stay up to date with the latest news.

Timeline April-November 2015


2015

April

  • We moved forward in the development of a stable release of Libre-Mesh to be tested in Quintana town during May.

May

  • Our main activity was polishing up the stable Libre-Mesh release: squashing bugs, doing extensive tests, discussing alternatives to known problems or complicated scenarios, and troubleshooting strange behaviours. The result was officially released, and was left running on a small 15 router cloud in one of the local networks.
  • We also sent a proposal for FRIDA awards, where one of the winning criteria was the number of public votes received. We quickly reached 2nd place but the first candidate was very popular as well, so it was a very tight competition that lasted days, alternating 1st place with them many times. We had to reach out to every social circle, even made a promo video in a rush, and finally won. Besides the award, a nice “bonus takeaway” was that the media campaign had a surprising impact on our publicity; we strengthened many relationships, and formed new ones.

June

  • Deployed the recently released Libre-Mesh 15.04 in a town near Quintana, by means of a workshop where the neighbors built the nodes to expand the Internet to cover their town, and used our firmware to flash the out-of-the-box routers.
  • This particular workshop was divided in two days: one to prepare all the materials, and another day to chat a bit about organization, and train people to actually put the stuff in their roofs. Almost 30 people attended (with women and men in equal proportion, including some children)

July

August

  • Our main focus was deploying Libre-Mesh 15.04 firmware to a remote town, in another province, coordinating the task with the local community, and monitoring performance since then.

September & October

  • AlterMundi became an Autonomous System, which means having our own range of ip addresses (v4 and v6) and thus being able to make local community networks officially part of The Internet!

November

  • The remaining funds of the Shuttleworth Flash Grant were used to partially finance a Europe trip next year, in order for Gui to participate in the Internet Freedom Festival and BattleMesh v9.

Community Networks Reunion in Brasil

The meeting was in Visconde de Mauá, in a house surrounded by beautiful nature called Nuvem – Estação Rural de Arte e Tecnología. A rural hack lab where various people from different countries traveled to meet each other. What all these groups had in common is their work in community based information technologies in terms of WiFi networks and GSM networks all over the world.
AlterMundi was taking part in this meeting, and got the chance to see how the FumaçaOnline network was coming along – a month after the original Fumaça Data Springs where we also participated between July 24th and August 1st.

Ryan and Andy from the Open Technology Institute, and Bruno from Nuvem brought us all together the first week of October in order to discuss similar challenges, goals, and most importantly to share experiences from different environments and countries.

We got many insights of the Rhizomatica project from Mexico, the Maria Luisa Ortiz Cooperative from Nicaragua, Falanster from Belarus, various projects from Brasil, and the diverse experience of Andy & Ryan in the various projects they are supporting with the Open Technology Institute.

The main objective of the meeting was sharing and learning, which we did in different group activities and even an improvisational theater game.

Focusing on sharing with others, we contributed our experiences in working with different communities in Latin America, the way we adapt antennas for the use in mesh networks, experiences in using LibreMesh, and a lot more. It was a diverse and inspiring meeting for us.

We left Brazil with new contacts, friends, knowledge and plans of collaborations in the future, strengthening the worldwide coalition of community supported communication.

AlterMundi ya es un Sistema Autónomo

Esta noticia es doblemente buena para las experiencias de redes comunitarias de nuestro continente. Por un lado, entendemos que es la primera vez que un conjunto de redes comunitarias, agrupadas bajo una personería jurídica sin fin de lucro, recibe sus propios recursos IPv4, IPv6 y ASN. Por otro, se ha sentado un precedente en LACNIC, que por resolución de su directorio “acuerda exonerarlos (a AlterMundi) por el 100% el primer año”, con posibilidad de renovar estas condiciones anualmente en base a la buena utilización que se haga de los recursos.

Agradecemos especialmente a Anthony Harris, director ejecutivo de la Cámara Argentina de Internet (CABASE), por su gestión para visibilizar nuestro caso en LACNIC. También a Oscar Robles Garay, Director Ejecutivo de LACNIC por seguir nuestra solicitud y alcanzar la propuesta al directorio para su tratamiento.

Esperamos que en los próximos meses AFTIC resuelva sobre nuestra solicitud para obtener el permiso de prestador sin fin de lucro, lo que completaría un camino de años en la senda del reconocimiento oficial a las redes comunitarias.

Bienvenido el peering libre con todas las redes que deseen establecerlo con nosotras!

Se ensancha el backbone

Gracias al aporte recibido a partir del proyecto de profundización presentado para los premios FRIDA 2015 y otros recursos locales hemos conseguido ampliar considerablemente la capacidad de la red troncal que comunica las redes comunitarias de los valles de Paravachasca y Traslasierra con la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.

Antes de esta intervención, la capacidad real del enlace con la UNC rondaba los 30Mbps. Considerando que en horarios pico las redes estaban consumiendo alrededor de 20Mbps, probablemente habríamos terminado el año con saturación en este tramo crítico de infraestructura que interconecta a las redes comunitarias de numerosos pueblos de la región.

Luego de la instalación del nuevo equipamiento, hemos podido medir una capacidad real de 100Mbps. Teniendo en cuenta que los media converters que se utilizan dentro de la Universidad son fast ethernet (100Mbps), estimamos que al cambiarlos la capacidad total desde nuestro servidor hasta las redes comunitarias podrá ser aún mayor. La estimación de capacidad del software provisto por los equipos es de 230Mbps simétricos. Veremos si se verifica una vez reemplazados los media converters en la Universidad. Por lo pronto esta mejora del 300% en la capacidad ya brinda holgado espacio de crecimiento en el corto y mediano plazo.

La segunda etapa de implementación de este plan mejora el tramo que conecta Ciudad de América con la Pampa de Achala y permite no sólo conectar con mayor capacidad las redes del valle de Traslasierra sino también la zona digitalmente excluida de los alrededores de la escuela Ceferino Namuncurá, a casi 2300m de altura.

En combinación, esta mejora en la red troncal y el aprovechamiento del ancho de banda ocioso, durante el horario (nocturno) de bajo tráfico en la UNC, permitirán a las redes comunitarias de la región seguir creciendo e incluyendo vecinas y vecinos a la vida digital a partir de su propio esfuerzo y capacidad de organización.

Ganamos los Premios Frida 2015!

La participación de gente de lugares tan remotos como Eslovenia y Grecia en la difusión permitió que el video de presentación que hicimos para este evento estuviera traducido a nueve idiomas en pocos días.

En esos días se publicaron o transmitieron notas en El Plan C, Ni a Palos, la TvPública y todavía sigue habiendo repercusión en medios.

El movimiento generado por FRIDA 2015 también significó que se activaran otras relaciones e iniciativas, que seguirán dando frutos en el futuro.

Gracias!!

Ya les iremos contando por este Blog, como avanza la ejecución de los planes relacionados al premio.

San Isidro grows with Libre-Mesh

Last weekend, we held a 20-node workshop in San Isidro, a small town next to Quintana. Almost 30 people attended (with women and men in equal proportion, including some children) and collaboratively built the antennas, prepared the weatherproof enclosures, painted the poles, and soldered DIY RF pigtails, among other activities.

After the initial forming of groups and task assignment, everyone was quickly up to speed, and after a few hours it was clear that the workshop would finish sooner than planned. With friendly smiles, evident enthusiasm, and with the general good feeling of doing something together for a greater-than-individual benefit, the neighbors of San Isidro prepared the materials for 20 ready-to-install nodes. Before the sun set, everyone was heading home satisfied.

Some days later we met again, for a community training to flash the routers, review the firmware web interface, talk about decibels, mesh design, show people how to put the nodes up in their roofs, point antennas, crimp ethernet cables, etc.

We learned from a local neighbor (Mariano) how to flash a node without actually seeing the router! With surprising ease, (he had never used the ethernet port of his computer before) this blind fellow matched plugs and ports by touch, connected the out-of-the-box TP-Link to his laptop, and using a text-to-speech engine, navigated to the web admin interface, uploaded the binary, and reflashed this way a couple of routers in less time than other sighted participants.

Another group was outside, putting a few nodes around the place to simulate the soon-to-be network, in order to play with the antennas and learn in a very practical way the basic RF concepts, like antenna directionality, signal propagation and absorption by obstacles, and most importantly teach themselves the notion of a “good”, “acceptable”, and “bad” received signal strength value.

A week has passed, and they have already installed almost all nodes in their town (10 of them, since the rest were built for other towns or kept as spare), the result of which can be seen at the pictured mesh diagram. You can also check out a couple of photos of the recently installed nodes by clicking on the image.

Libre-Mesh 15.04 «BigBang» released

We’re happy to announce the first stable release of Libre-Mesh, codenamed “BigBang”, version 15.04

It’s built on top of OpenWrt Barrier Breaker 14.07 final release, and includes:

  • A simple read-only webgui (no auth needed) based on luci-0.12, in addition to the usual LuCI admin interface.
  • BMX6 r2014112401 and BATMAN-Adv 2014.2.0, running on top of linux kernel 3.10.49
  • LibreMap agent ready to push it’s status to the global map, as soon as you tell the node its GPS coordinates.
  • Public IPv6 address ranges, ready to be globally routed through LibreNet6

You can download generic binaries or create your own customized version with the Chef based on the Libre-Mesh 15.04 release profile

Lastly, you can also compile manually from sources, using lime-build as explained, but cloning branch 15.04

git clone -b 15.04 https://github.com/libre-mesh/lime-build.git