Freifunk (German, word for word translation free radio, more apropriate: free wireless networking) is an initiative to support the development of tools for free mesh networks. Besides that the initiative supports communities developing know-how to set up their own networks.
The freifunk community is is part of a network of projects developing tools for mesh networks including the Freifunk Firmware and OpenWrt projects, routing protocols such as OLSR and B.A.T.M.A.N., tools like Maps for networks (e.g. freimap), scanning tools like the horst tool and many more. Recently people also started to develop Open Hardware like the Mesh Potato for villagetelco.
With the freifunk firmware it is relatively easy to bring up new wireless mesh networks using ad-hoc WLAN communication layer 2 and layer 3 routing with OLSR, BATMAN and other protocols. Originated in Germany, Freifunk has been deployed successfully in many countries. The OLPC project in Afghanistan uses freifunk for its mesh deployments to distribute digital books, news and educational media. In Ghana freifunk is used to bridge the digital divide in villages. In Vietnam freifunk is used to offer Internet connections at Free and Open Source events like FOSSASIA. In Europe and the Americas city and village networks lower costs for communities and small and medium sized companies, that share common Internet connections, ADSL, Telephone or Satellite uplinks in remote regions.
The Freifunk Firmware is a modified version of OpenWrt Linux Version that is developed for router devices. The main aim of the firmware is to make it easier and faster to set up wireless mesh networks. Designed as an embedded Linux for low powered network devices the system can be adapted for a wide variety of devices. Freifunk/OpenWrt supports ad-hoc WLAN communication and layer 2 and 3 routing. Open Source routing protocols can be installed via package updates. Most common protocols are the OLSR protocol and the BATMAN routing protocol. By building the Freifunk embedded firmware together with the OpenWrt team the community is developing an easy to use self-configuring, self-fixing and self-tuning mesh network (http://wiki.openwrt.org/Freifunk).
Features of the freifunk Firmware
The Freifunk firmware allows anyone to relatively easily build mesh networks of routers. Such networks can be surprisingly scalable involving hundreds / thousands of nodes and made using normal off the shelf routers.
Current test version on SVN (https://dev.openwrt.org/wiki/GetSource) are enabling developers to create plugins for the firmware. These plugins will enable users to offer locations based services, local search, router CMS, local fm radio distribution via routers, and many more. An example for locations based services is Apple Bonjour that offers users to share their music in local wifi networks, however, in Freifunk mesh networks, there are many more ways to share and communicate as services are build on open standards and open source software.
LOCAL SERVICES in Mesh Networks
Another project where we are connecting services is the Villagetelco project, where we adapt the firmware to offer telephone services over an adhoc network (www.villagetelco.org).
ADAPTING THE FIRMWARE
Going in another direction the community also engages to port applications and desktop environments such as LXDE to OpenWrt for Freifunk clouds to offer faster devices with an X interface and making use of thousands of available applications. The porting of code from Google Android also aims to support the adaptability of the Firmware for special use cases.
Communities around the world
To read more about free wireless networks around the world, please visit the global Freifunk newswire at http://global.freifunk.net.
- Checkout the firmware, download it, install it Getting Started (EN)
- Contact your local community or start a new one
Projects of the community
Firmware, RouterOS, Interface
- Freifunk Firmware: http://wiki.freifunk.net/Freifunk_Firmware_(English)
- Sourceforge Download: http://ff-firmware.sourceforge.net
- OpenWrt and Freifunk Kamikaze (install packages via OpenWrt): http://www.openwrt.org
- OpenWrt Kamikaze/Backfire/Attitude Adjustment based firmware: Kamikaze
- Freifunk Luci: http://luci.subsignal.org (LuCI evolved from a MVC-Webframework to a collection of several libraries, applications and user interfaces with general purpose for Lua programmers while the focus still remains on the web user interface)
Open Source Routing Protocols
- OLSR: http://olsr.org
- B.A.T.M.A.N.: http://open-mesh.org
- BABEL: http://www.pps.jussieu.fr/~jch/software/babel/
- Horst Tool: http://br1.einfach.org/horst
- freimap: https://wiki.freifunk.net/Freimap
- Low cost do it your self Wifi telephone router project: http://villagetelco.org
- a router box suited for content nodes in mesh networks: http://fdmbx.net
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