EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium

'IPFS: The Distributed, Permanent Web' or 'How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Merkle Web'
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Gates B03
Juan Benet (Protocol Labs)
Abstract / Description: 

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a new hypermedia distribution protocol, to complement – and eventually replace – HTTP. It improves the security, performance, operation modes, and data friendliness of the Web. In particular, it yields a powerful new model, where websites and web applications are decoupled from origin servers, are distributed trustlessly through the network, and are encrypted, authenticated, and executed safely.

Important properties include:

  • immutable content-addressed graph (merkle dag, git, sfsro)
  • mutable key-addressed name system (sfs-inspired)
  • transport-agnosticism and clean protocol layering
  • files are an abstraction on top of the merkle dag
  • flexible graph data model (both json and xml friendly)
  • clean layering on the web - works with today's browsers.
  • clean layering on unix - can mount the web in the OS FS
  • usable in IoT and other untraditional cases

This talk will cover:

  1. the major problems plaguing today's web,
  2. the architecture of IPFS (how it fits in the network stack, how it is deployed, how the problems are solved)
  3. powerful new models for the web (distributed, offline-first, authenticated)
  4. examples of important use cases (package managers, OSes, archives)
  5. a discussion on open source protocol R & D
  6. future research, development, and deployment directions

The talk will include a broad look at The IPFS Project, and a discussion on evolving the network stack through open source protocols R & D.
Today, IPFS is classified as alpha software, yet it is robust enough to be in use even in production.

Most notable related work includes: SFS, BitTorrent, Git, Bitcoin, CCNx/NDN, GNUnet, Freenet, Tahoe-LAFS.

Juan Benet created IPFS, Filecoin, and other protocols. He is the founder of Protocol Labs, a company improving how the internet works. He studied Computer Science (Distributed Systems) at Stanford. You can reach him by email at