The importance of decentralisation

Posted on 2019-11-14 by ungleich

Did you ever wonder, why the Internet is as robust as it is? Then this article is for you.

The Internet Architecture

The Internet basically consists of a lose collaboration of network service operators. Each operator, whether an individual or a large scale enterprise, can announce their own networks and run services in their own networks.

The dependency on other providers is relatively low, the only thing you need to operate in the Internet is one or more upstream providers. If you happen to have many of them, we call this peering and it allows you to get good deals for data exchange.

Decentralisation is an enabler

Because each operator can decide what to run in their network, whether it's providing access to websites, providing a mail infrastructure, providing a webshop or other services. What you do, what you sell is up to you.

So far so good, isn't it?

The threat of centralisation

In the real world, we see that some services have become strictly centralised. Services like ebay, amazon, google or facebook are very convenient, because they allow access to a lot of resources, but are also very dangerous at the same time.

Problem one: Seller dependency

Imagine you are selling pink socks. Because pink socks are the coolest and they make people feel more warm in winter. Imagine further you exclusively sell your products solely through one of these platforms. Then the provider bans you from their website, because pink is considered to be incorrect, socks always have to be black. This will ruin your business model completely, because you don't have an alternative.

While the example of pink socks is fictional, there are many such real world cases.

Problem two: Buyer dependency

On the other hand as a consumer, if you usually go to one site. Now if you are banned from that site, you cannot approach the seller, even if the seller wanted to sell to you.

Problem three: Censorship

A generic problem with centralised platforms is censorship. This is a very important one, as it applies to providers in a lot nations. We have seen censorship on a variety of platforms including a variety of reasons including political motivated censorship. Centralised platforms are especially prone for censorship with huge effects.

Problem four: Lack of choices

Once a centralised platform has been established, the lack of choice forces sellers, buyers and consumers into a strong dependency (related to this is strong vendor lock-ins. If the platform raises prices or decides to reduce privacy features, users don't have a choice, but to accept, if there are no alternatives.

Some many problems - what is the solution?

Like we say in Switzerland, we like to buy locally, supporting small shops and small companies. But how do you realistically do this in the Internet? We see one easy to use way that is not on everyone's radar: switching to IPv6. Let us show you how to establish your own presence in 3 small steps.

1. Acknowledge that you are a network operator

First of all, anyone can be a network operator. This is how the Internet was built and it is still true. You can start by getting your own IPv6 space.

This is really easy and in case you are using the only requires installing wireguard and a configuration.

2. Setup your own presence

When you have your own IPv6 range, you can run anything in it. From a website, to mail servers, ... anything any other operator can do.

If you don't know how to do that, you can ask for help on the IPv6.Chat, where you find many people who are using IPv6 on a daily basis.

You can even setup your own social network on your infrastructure!

3. Talk about it

Many people are not aware that with IPv6 the game really changes and that everyone is back in the game. So when you start your journey, we ask you to talk about it and enable other people.

4. (optional) Get an IPv4 Proxy

If you want to be reachable from the IPv4 world, you can also use an IPv4-to-IPv6 proxy, which you find the the IPv6 Shop.

ungleich IPv4 to IPv6 proxy

Summary and Outlook

Centralisation is a danger to everyone. It concentrates decision power and effectively can censor opinions and in the worst case even ruin businesses. With IPv6 you can back in control. Even better, you can be part of driving decentralisation.

Soon upcoming is the Black IPv6 Friday, where you can get direct IPv6 experience. Or you can exchange your ideas for decentralisation on the IPv6.Chat.


As pointed out by nicey on hackernews there is the awesome-selfhosted git repo on github with a lot of explanations on how to self host. Really worth checking it out!