n2n (by )

n2n looks like a lovely piece of technology.

It's basically a VPN system, but quite different from existing VPN technologies. Existing VPNs work by creating a point-to-point link between two systems, usually a personal computer on an untrusted, remote, and often frequently changing network - and a router which then routes or bridges traffic (depending on the layer the VPN operates on) to other VPN clients and/or a physical private network.

The usual configuration is that there's a network with some resources on it that can't be trusted to the open Internet - insecure file sharing or network management services, for example - with an access device connected both to that network and the public Internet, such that remote computers can connect to the access device via the Internet and thus be virtually and securely connected to the private network so they can access the resources therein as if they were physically plugged into it. All over an encrypted link that they need to authenticate to set up, keeping third parties from reading or injecting traffic.

But the conventional VPN approach doesn't work so well for more complex setups. I, for example, have two private networks with various servers and workstations on, an isolated server, and two roaming laptops. It would be nice if I could set up varying levels of trusted connectivity between the three; the isolated server should really appear to be local to the first private network, which could be done with a conventional VPN, except that a permanent connection would require the isolated server to try to set the VPN up on boot and, if it goes down due to network problems or the access server on the private network rebooting, retry the connection automatically. Likewise, I'd like some level of routing between the two private networks, with a bit of packet filtering to tailor the precise trust relationship; I'd have to choose one network's router to be the VPN server and the other the client, set up another auto-reconnecting VPN, and set up routing across it. Then have the laptops also connect to a VPN server on one of the private networks, or perhaps the isolated server, to then use routing across the VPN links between the two private networks in order to reach everything they should be able to.

In practice, I'd probably pick the best connected private network to be the hub, and run a VPN server on it, and have everything else connect to that. Traffic between a laptop and the other private network would go via the hub, causing double bandwidth consumption at the hub and increasing latency. If the hub goes down, the whole network is fragmented.

Plus, mainstream VPN protocols are a pain to configure and use, as they tend to use strange protocols like GRE.

But n2n is much better than all that.

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