by Natasha Lomas (@riptari)
Not many startups have spent a decade fine-tuning their tech platform prior to launch. But not many startups are trying to radically rethink the structure of the Internet.
UK-based MaidSafe, which has been building an alternative, decentralized p2p network since before Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone, is finally — finally! — gearing up for a tentative launch — flicking the switch on its first alpha test network today.
The various downloads to access the alpha are available via its website.
It has run some smaller network tests before, but this is the first time it’s opening access to the general public. Albeit, it’s still an alpha release, so is being targeted at “very early adopters”, says founder David Irvine.
The aim for the alpha is to see how the network operates, garner feedback and grow its community of developers — to fuel the necessary app ecosystem to drive adoption of the real-deal down the line (an API is slated as launching this week).
MaidSafe’s ambition for the Safe network, as it will be called (aka ‘Secure Access For Everyone’), is for it to be useable by as wide a user-base as possible — not just a playground for an enthusiastic community of network nerds. So it’s been designing the installation process with more of an average user in mind.
“What we’re aiming for is a very simple install and run — so click install and it’s running. We want to be as close to mobile phone app delivery as possible,” says Irvine, adding: “It should just work.”
The alpha network is not a full launch of MaidSafe’s grand vision, with the so-called ‘vaults’ element — where users are able to contribute resources to the network (in the form of spare hard drive capacity), and earn a built-in cryptocurrency in return (called Safecoin) — not yet ready for prime time testing. Alpha 1 is functioning with vaults run by MaidSafe.
On the compatibility front the network will currently run on Windows, Mac and Linux — and also on ARM-based devices, including Raspberry Pis.
“We’re really keen that the user side of the network is out there and getting feedback on it from this point forward,” says Irvine, discussing the aims of the alpha. “That allows the application developers to get their hands on the API and continue to develop the user facing applications that we’ve started to see happening so far from the forum. So this is us going out to a much wider audience now, beyond our core supporters.”
More pictures and the full article can be found here: