Framatube: Federation and Design of PeerTube

This comes some weeks after Chocobozzz joined our team to devote himself to the development of PeerTube, the software we offer on Framatube.org.

So we’re taking the opportunity to make a first update, with some wonderful news to announce!

Federating is good, federating well is better.

To review, Framatube will be only one of the gateways for PeerTube federations. And Framatube will not host your videos: we prefer to only accompany you as you create your own PeerTube hosting (or join an existing one), so that these gateways, these instances of PeerTube, will multiply.

Because it is one of the great aims of PeerTube to arrange things so that each of these instances, each of these video hosting sites, can rely on the others, or federate. The key thing is to figure out HOW to federate!

To achieve this, PeerTube implements a first version of the ActivityPub protocol. For those who aren’t familiar with it, this is a federation protocol developed by the W3C. That is to say, it standardizes the manner in which different instances communicate. If two different platforms can speak the same language, they can exchange information. That doesn’t sound like much, but it opens up huge possibilities for decentralized software.

Imagine if tomorrow MediaGoblin implements the ActivityPub protocol (and this should be the case!) and becomes compatible with PeerTube, so your friend who installed this software on his server can send the index of his videos to your PeerTube server and vice versa. You can search for any video stored on his server (or even other servers!) while comfortably remaining on the PeerTube web interface. Instead of having competing platforms, we’ll have a federated network that is more powerful thanks to collaboration. And this is a value that is dear to us in the free scene.

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Illustration : CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Where it gets really exciting is when two platforms with different functions communicate with each other. Picture an instance of Mastodon, a decentralized alternative to Twitter with more than a million accounts and which has already implemented the ActivityPub protocol. Now picture an instance of PeerTube with a filmmaker you like and who regularly posts videos. Wouldn’t it be great if you could follow him via your Mastodon interface, and each time he publishes a video see updates in your news feed that directly contain the video? Well, this will be possible.

But where it gets really, really exciting, is that when you respond to a video status on Mastodon, the message will be sent to the instance of PeerTube. Your response will thus be visible beneath the video, in the comment space. And yes, if another person at the other end of the world responds to your comment via his instance of PeerTube or Mastodon, you’ll see it as a response to your status in Mastodon. If tomorrow Diaspora (the Facebook alternative behind Framasphere) implements ActivityPub, it will work the same way. We’ll have plenty of platforms that are capable of federating comments.

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He looks oafish, but this old mastodon could very well crush Twitter if we let ourselves choose that…

Free alternatives are criticized, often with reason, for not having added value compared to centralized platforms. With ActivityPub, we now have our first big advantage. Because on the centralized platforms, you’ll have a hard time viewing, under your Youtube video, the reactions of people who commented on Facebook, Twitter, DailyMotion, etc. 😉

Admittedly, we’re not there yet.

There remains a bit of work to do on PeerTube to improve the implementation of ActivityPub, then test communication with other platforms. But the first results are very encouraging :). On the other hand, it seems important to us to mention that the implementation of ActivityPub in PeerTube and Mastodon will not allow you to create an account on an instance of PeerTube from your Mastodon account, or vice versa.

Design is a job!

Among the questions you asked us on the FramaColibri forum was Olivier Massain‘s proposal to help us improve the design of PeerTube (something it needs!). The models he created are magnificent. So we decided to give you a preview of the integration of his fantastic work, with a little “before and after”! A huge thanks to him.

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Main page, before…
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…Main page, after.
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Watching a video, before…
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Watching a video, after.
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My Account page, before…
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…and My Account, after.
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As for the My Videos page, it didn’t exist yet!

Contribution is key

The subject of using the ActivityPub protocol came up very often among the most technical questions you asked us about PeerTube. Moreover, your questions enabled us to improve the presentation of PeerTube in our suggestion that you discover Framatube in 10 answers.

It was again in this same space for exchange and discussion that Olivier Massain proposed to contribute to the design of PeerTube. So here is proof, if more was needed, that contribution is the key to the sucess of Free projects. It’s not for nothing that we placed Framatube in the first world landscape of Contributopia: it’s because we know that we can get there if we work together.

Another way to contribute is to participate in financing Framasoft’s activities, and, there too, we must tell you how delighted we are with the support you give us. On November 21, we coupled the announcement of Framatube with a call for donations, because we needed, alas, €90,000 to meet the association’s 2018 budget. We split this sum into three parts:

0-30,000: financing of PeerTube/Framatube
30-60,000: maintenance/improvement of Degooglize the Internet services
60-90,000: Realization of 2018 Contributopia projects

At the moment of writing these lines, the second milestone is almost attained! Although there indeed remains an effort to put in and nothing has been earned, already we thank you for your trust and hope to do everything we can to show ourselves worthy. A small reminder for people who pay revenue taxes in France: you have until December 31 to give a donation to Framasoft that can be deducted from your 2017 revenues (know that a donation of €100 comes to €34 after deduction).

If you want to and can, consider supporting Framasoft, and/or spreading this information!

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Framatube, illustrated by David Revoy – License: CC-By 4.0

[Translated from French by George Hendrickson. Originally posted on The Framablog. This translation is free to distribute with attribution under the CC 4 License.]

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Framatube: Help us break the hegemony of Youtube

This is a revolution. Ok: the expression was confiscated from us by a famous apple seller, but in this case, it is frankly just. And what if, together, we can liberate ourselves from the hegemony of Youtube by innovating the way we view and share videos? At Framasoft, we believe this is possible… But that will not happen without you.

Youtube is an expensive ogre

Youtube is above all a symbol. A symbol for these platforms (Dailymotion, Vimeo, Facebook videos…) that centralize our video creations to offer our information and mental energy to multinationals who pay these hosting sites.

It must be said that snatching our videos and attention is terribly expensive for these ogres of the web. The video files are heavy, so the ogres must constantly add new hard drives to their server farms. Not to mention that, when all these videos are centralized and thus sent from the same machines, they have to increase the size and bitrate of the pipes that transport this bandwidth, which, again, translates into terms of nuggets, or rather mega-moolah.

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DISCOVER 100 WAYS TO DEGOOGLIZE THE INTERNET.

Technically and financially, centralizing video is probably the least appropriate method, worthy of the age of Minitels. If, on the other hand, your aim is to become the only TV channel for the Minitel 2.0 (or an Internet ruled by platforms)… If your aim to have the power to influence the contents and habits of the whole world… And if your aim is to collect precious information on our interests, creations and interactions… Well, then it becomes truly cost-effective!

In our lives, Youtube is raised to the rank of Facebook: a necessary evil, a site that we love to hate, a service “that I would love to do without, but…” To such an extent that, if only “Paupers” (billionaire companies) could afford the success of such platforms, many others would try to imitate their functions, even among free software developers. As if we can no longer even imagine doing things differently…

“I don’t want you to pressure or bother [the tyrant], but only stop supporting him, and you will see him, like a great column with its base removed, fall and break under his own weight.”
Étienne de LA BOÉTIE, Discours de la servitude volontaire, 1574

Let’s take back the means of dissemination

We’ve been able to propose a Framatube centralizing free videos on our servers, based on the free softwares Mediadrop, Mediagoblin or Mediaspip, which are very effective when it comes to hosting one’s personal video library. But, in the case of success and a very large number of videos and views, we would have to pay a high price: alas (we have done the calculations) we are 350,000 times poorer than Google-Alphabet, to which Youtube belongs. We don’t want to use their methods, and how convenient: we don’t have the means.

Free software, on the other hand, has the capacity to think outside of this Google way of life. The main interest of Google, its capital, is our information. This is precisely what prevents them from putting different, innovative solutions in place. A real innovation would be to use, for example, techniques of dissemination almost as old as the Internet and which have proven themselves: federation of hosts and peer-to-peer, for example.

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With federations, unity is power, and the power is with us. Illustration: CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

We know federation thanks to email (and we have spoken about this in presenting the free alternative to Twitter, which is Mastodon). The fact that the email of Camille is hosted by her company and the email of Dominique is provided by his university does not prevent them from communicating; quite the contrary!

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Peer to peer viewing, to better distribute data flows in the network. Illustration: Emma Lidbury

Peer-to-peer, we know from eMule, Torrents, and more recently Popcorn Time: it’s when the computer of each person who receives a file (for example a video that opens in a player on your screen) simultaneously sends it to other people. This allows us, quite simply, to distribute flows of information and lighten the load on the network.

Let’s liberate Youtube channels with PeerTube

PeerTube is a free software that democratizes video hosting by creating a new network of hosters, whose videos are shared directly between viewers, peer-to-peer. Its developer, Chocobozzz, has been working on it voluntarily for two years, in his free time.

At Framasoft, during the Degooglize the Internet campaign, we have often racked our brains over the best way to create an alternative to Youtube that liberates viewers, creators and hosts, without penalizing comfort for any of them. When we heard about PeerTube, we were enchanted: its design, although still under development, let us glimpse a software that could change everything.

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We will have a need for contributions to the design of PeerTube.

For the viewer, going on PeerTube will enable him to watch and interact not only with his own videos but also all his “hoster friends” (principle of federation). A video maker will have the freedom to choose between several hosting places, each having its own centers of interest, general conditions, and rules for moderation and monetization. A hoster (some day soon might we say a PeerTuber?) herself will have no need to share the videos with the whole world in order to draw a large audience, and will no longer have to fear that a massively viewed video will bring down her server.

As of October 2017, we have taken Chocobozzz aboard our paid team in order to finance his time spent working on the PeerTube software, and thus accelerate his development and support him as best as we can. The objective? To release a beta version of PeerTube (publicly usable) in March 2018, as part of our Contributopia campaign.

The first means of contributing to PeerTube

Clearly, PeerTube will not be (immediately) as beautiful, functional and furnished as Youtube in 2017 (which has for 10 years benefited from the resources of Google, one of the riches companies in the world). But the features, present or foreseen, make one’s mouth water… and if you want to know more, you can ask ask all your questions about PeerTube on our forum. These questions will allow us to better understand your expectations from such a project, and to publish a FAQ on this blog.

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It’s not the software that’s free, it’s you, it’s us! Illustration: CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

[Translated from French by George Hendrickson. Originally posted on The Framablog. This translation is free to distribute with attribution under the CC 4 License.]