GNUnet is a new network protocol stack for building secure, distributed, and privacy-preserving applications. With strong roots in academic research, our goal is to replace the old insecure Internet protocol stack.

GNUnet is typically run as an overlay network on top of the the existing Internet infrastructure forming the basis of a hybrid peer-to-peer mesh and relay backbone for applications to run on. It could just as well be run independently of the Internet, over dedicated radio and cable.

GNUnet is made for an open society: It's a self-organizing network and it is free software as in freedom. GNUnet puts you in control of your data. You determine which data to share with whom, and you're not pressured to accept compromises.

Download GNUnet Join & support us!

The Internet of tomorrow needs GNUnet today


The conventional Internet is currently like a system of roads with deep potholes and highwaymen all over the place. Even if you still can use the roads (e.g. send emails, or browse websites) your vehicle might get hijacked, damaged, or long arms might reach into its back and steal your items (data) to use it against you and sell it to others - while you can't even notice the thievery nor accuse and hold the scroungers accountable.

The Internet is broken

Protocols from Ethernet and IP to BGP and X.509 PKI are insecure by default: protecting against address forgery, routers learning metadata, or choosing trustworthy CAs is nontrivial and sometimes impossible.

GNUnet provides privacy by design, improving addressing, routing, naming and content distribution in a technically robust manner - as opposed to ad-hoc designs in place today.

Decentralization is hard

It seems as if every other distributed or P2P project develops its own library stack, covering transports, stream muxing, discovery and others. This divides effort and multiplies bug count.

GNUnet is a metadata-preserving foundation for your application, covering areas from addressing to reliable bidirectional Axolotl-encrypted channels, with advanced routing. Our work is based on continuous research spanning almost two decades.

Metadata is exposed

Even though transport encryption is increasingly being deployed on the Internet, it still reveals data that can threaten democracy: the identities of senders and receivers, the times, frequency and the volume of communication are all still revealed.

GNUnet addresses these concerns with perfect forward secrecy via ephemeral public key addressing, fixed packet size to hinder traffic analysis, layered encryption, Sybil-resistant routing, and more.

Freedoms are not respected

Today, monitoring increasingly centralized infrastructure, proprietary implementations, traffic shapers and firewalls restrict all of the essential freedoms to various degrees.

GNUnet gives users freedoms to securely access information ("run" the network), to study all aspects of the network's operation ("access the code"), to distribute information ("copy"), as well as the freedom to deploy new applications ("modify").

Featured Applications

GNU Taler

GNU Taler is a new privacy-preserving electronic payment system. Payments are cryptographically secured and are confirmed within milliseconds with extremely low transaction costs.

The GNU Name System

The GNU Name System (GNS) is a fully decentralized replacement for the Domain Name System (DNS). Instead of using a hierarchy, GNS uses a directed graph. Naming conventions are similar to DNS, but queries and replies are private even with respect to peers providing the answers. The integrity of records and privacy of look-ups is cryptographically secured.


secushare is creating a decentralized social networking application on top of GNUnet. Using overlay multicast and the extensible PSYC protocol, notifications are distributed end-to-end encrypted to authorized recipients only.

pretty Easy privacy

pretty Easy privacy (p≡p) is creating a usable end-to-end encrypted e-mail solution using opportunistic key exchange. p≡p will use GNUnet to protect metadata and exploit new cryptographic protocols to verify keys.


GNUnet filesharing is an application that provides censorship-resistant, anonymous filesharing. The publisher is empowered to make a gradual choice between performance and anonymity.


GNUnet conversation is an application that provides secure voice communication in a fully decentralized way by employing GNUnet for routing and transport.


2019-02: GNUnet 0.11.0 released

We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.0.

This is a major release after about five years of development. In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.0 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

Download links

Note that due to mirror synchronization, not all links might be functional early after the release. For direct access try

Note that GNUnet is now started using gnunet-arm -s. GNUnet should be stopped using gnunet-arm -e.

Noteworthy changes in 0.11.0

  • The Web site and manuals have undergone significant rework. You can find an archive of the old Web site at
  • The code now builds again on macOS. GNUnet on macOS is experimental. While it builds and seems to run fine, some tests are known to fail.
  • Build process now works properly with libidn2
  • Except for gnunet-qr, all Python code was migrated to Python 3.7.
  • Fixed security issues in secret sharing cryptography logic
  • Services running out of file descriptors on accept() no longer busy wait
  • Fixed crash in gnunet-gns2dns proxy
  • GNS responses are now padded to minimize information disclosure from the size
  • Fixed API issues and (rare) crash bugs in CADET
  • The experimental SecuShare code is not included in the release, you can now find it in the gnunet-secushare Git repository.
  • The Ascension tool (separate download) now allows importing DNS zones into GNS via AXFR.
  • GNUnet now includes a decentralised identity attribute sharing service: reclaimID. A ready-to-use client can be found in an external repo.
  • The code now builds again on NetBSD. GNUnet on NetBSD is experimental. While it builds and seems to run fine, full support requires more changes in the core of GNUnet It will soon be available via pkgsrc.
  • Many things changed on the build system side. If you package GNUnet for an operating system or otherwise package manager, make sure that you read the README.
The above is just the short list, our bugtracker lists over 100 individual issues that were resolved since 0.11.0pre66.

Known Issues

  • There are known major design issues in the TRANSPORT, ATS and CORE subsystems which will need to be addressed in the future to achieve acceptable usability, performance and security.
  • There are known moderate implementation limitations in CADET that negatively impact performance. Also CADET may unexpectedly deliver messages out-of-order.
  • There are known moderate design issues in FS that also impact usability and performance.
  • There are minor implementation limitations in SET that create unnecessary attack surface for availability.
  • The RPS subsystem remains experimental.
  • Some high-level tests in the test-suite fail non-deterministically due to the low-level TRANSPORT issues.

In addition to this list, you may also want to consult our bug tracker at which lists about 150 more specific issues.


This release was the work of many people. The following people contributed code and were thus easily identified: Christian Grothoff, Matthias Wachs, Bart Polot, Sree Harsha Totakura, Nathan S. Evans, Martin Schanzenbach, Julius Bünger, ng0, Philipp Tölke, Florian Dold, Руслан Ижбулатов, tg(x), David Barksdale, Christian Fuchs, Nils Durner, Omar Tarabai, Maximilian Szengel, Supriti Singh, lurchi, David Brodski, xrs, Fabian Oehlmann, Carlo von lynX, Christophe Genevey Metat, Jeffrey Burdges, Safey A.Halim, Daniel Golle, Phil, Bruno Cabral, Ji Lu, Heikki Lindholm, Markus Teich, t3sserakt, Claudiu Olteanu, Marcello Stanisci, Moon, Hernani Marques, anryko, Arthur Dewarumez, Julien Morvan, Adnan H, rexxnor, Lin Tong, Andreas Fuchs, Christian Rupp, jah, Alejandra Morales, Bernd Fix, Feideus, Matthias Kolja Miehl, Andrew Cann, Antonio Ojea, Pascal Mainini, amirouche and hark. Special thanks to Florian Weimer.

2019-02: Topics for GSoC 2019

GNUnet is participating in the Google Summer of Code again through GNU. If you are interested in any of these projects, reach out to us!

Android Port

It is time for GNUnet to run properly on Android. Note that GNUnet is written in C, and this is not about rewriting GNUnet in Java, but about getting the C code to run on Android.
Mentor: Hartmut Goebel

Help with Continuous Integration setup

There is a push for migrating our CI to Gitlab. The CI should eventually not just run "make check" on various platforms, but also perform tests with multiple peers running in different VMs with specific network topologies (i.e. NAT) between them being simulated. The CI should also be integrated with Gauger for performance regression analysis. Running jobs only when dependencies have changed and scripting more granular triggers or ideally automatic dependency discovery (as done by the autotools) is also important.
Mentor: TBD

Migrate gnunet-qr from Python 2.7 to C using libzbar

Python 2.7 is reaching its end-of-life, and we want to get rid of the dependency on Python. The existing gnunet-qr tool is a rather simple wrapper around python-zbar, which itself wraps libzbar. The goal of this project is to directly use libzbar to scan QR codes for GNUnet / the GNU Name System (see also #5562).
Mentor: Christian Grothoff

re:claimID OpenID Connect performance improvements

reclaimID is a decentralized identity system build on top of the GNU Name System. Upon authorization, the user provides a requesting party (RP) such as a website with an authorization ticket (e.g. piggybacked in an OpenID authorization code). The RP uses information contained in this ticket to

  1. Retrieve the decryption key from GNS
  2. Retrieve the user attributes from GNS
The GNS lookups ensure that the RP receives up-to-date attributes and functional decryption keys. However, in particular the RP-specific encryption key resolution can be slow and even fail depending on the network topology. We propose that in an initial exchange, in particular OpenID authorization code flows, we try to incorporate key and maybe even an attribute set in the ticket exchange. In order to mitigate this issue, this project is meant to investigate and implement how...
  1. ... decryption keys can be added to an initial exchange in OpenID.
  2. ... initial set(s) of attributes can be piggybacked in OpenID.

Mentor: Martin Schanzenbach

re:claimID alternative GNS-based encryption

re:claimID is a decentralized identity system build on top of the GNU Name System. The initial design and implementation of re:claimID includes an attribute-based encryption module in order to prevent unauthorized access to attributes in the name system. Our motivation for re:claimID was for it to be name system agnostic, which means the design theoretically also works for other name systems such as namecoin. Other name systems often do not have built-in mechanisms in order to do this. Hence, we implemented an ABE access control layer. Our ABE implementation requires two third party libraries: libpbc and libgabe. While we could merge libgabe into the gnunet service implementation of re:claimID, libpbc is a rather large, third party library which lacks packaging in distributions and for platforms. On the other hand, GNS supports record data encryption using symmetric keys as labels. If we make the access control layer of re:claimID more generic in order to support both ABE and GNS encryption, we could reduce the required depenencies. This would result in gnunet packages to include re:claimID by default. In short, the goals are to...

  1. ... improve performance by reducing encryption overhead.
  2. ... reduce dependencies.

Mentor: Martin Schanzenbach

Enable all networking applications to run over GNUnet out of the box

One great problem of the current Internet is the lack of disintermediation. When people want to talk they need a chat service. When they want to share files they need a file transfer service. Although GNUnet already possesses quite advanced integration into Linux networking, a little extra work is needed for existing applications like irc, www, ftp, rsh, nntpd to run over it in a peer-to-peer way, simply by using a GNS hostname like friend.gnu. Once people have added a person to their GNS they can immediately message, exchange files and suchlike directly, with nothing but the GNUnet in the middle, using applications that have been distributed with unix systems ever since the 1980's. We can produce an OS distribution where these things work out of the box with the nicknames of people instead of cloud services. For more information and context, read bug id 4625.

Mentors: lynX & dvn

Second GNUnet Hacker Meeting 2018 at La D├ęcentrale, Switzerland

The GNUnet hackers met for the second time this year. The primary goal was to squash bugs to bring out a new release. Aside from this we worked hard on improving the documentation and to launch this new website.

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