YaCyPi team celebrates successful Kickstarter campaign [updated]

With hysteria regarding NSA spying and Google ad tracking it may be a safe assumption that public trust in Internet searching has been shaken. One Maryland-based team is hoping to change that by bringing Web searches back to the user.

YaCy was created by Michael Christen, and with help from a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Obsidian Security Services has brought this important project to life on the Raspberry Pi. The two projects together have brought safe browsing to low powered hardware and have enabled users to safeguard their data.

YaCy is an extraordinary software stack designed to put the power of search back in the user’s hands by allowing users to build their own peer-to-peer search portals, limiting its potential only by the number of active users connected to the network of devices. The design of YaCy allows the application stack to run on Linux, Windows, or Mac.  The technology can also be used for Intranet searches on corporate and school sites. The user needs only to download and install the software stack on a dedicated machine in order to contribute to the network.

YaCyPi, as the name suggests, is a set of applications designed to be a turnkey solution for use on the now legendary Raspberry Pi computer board. The YaCy stack runs on top of a scaled down version of Puppy Linux for ARM-based processors installed on an SD card. There’s no GUI required and the device can run “headless”, placing very small demand on system resources. When connected to a network, the device eliminates the need for a dedicated computer to run full-time in order to contribute to peers. Ideally, the device will be a snap to install. Just connect the Pi to your network router, insert the SD card, and start searching using the YaCy interface.

YaCyPi was designed by a group of exceptional Linux Enthusiasts out to make a difference.  The project was born out of love for Linux and Open Source, with time contributed outside their daily lives and professions.  Security and privacy is at the core of the project, and has heavily influenced interests in keeping your personal data safe and out of the prying eyes of others.

The functionality of YaCy lies in creating a peer-to-peer ‘cloud’, so to speak, that you are able to connect to.  Keep in mind this has next to nothing similar with torrents aside from being peer-to-peer based.  The benefits of a mobile private search engine are at your disposal.  Coupling YaCyPi’s solution with the core of the YaCy application stack, allows you to stay private, wherever you are.

Currently there are only a few hundred users so searches are still on the slow side. However, as the project accumulates peers, searches should become noticeably faster. No searches are cached and no one can impose censorship over them. In addition, the user will not have to worry about advertising or corporate and government monitoring. The user owns the content.

From the outset, the YaCyPi team has seen a healthy amount of community support. As the project wrapped up its final day on Kickstarter, the campaign amassed over $15,000, crushing its $10,000 goal with over 220 project backers. Premiums included SD cards with YaCyPi software pre-installed, as well as YaCyPi kits, ready to install and configure. The premiums are slated to ship starting this April, pending finalization of the OS and the software stack.

The project has thus far been so successful that the developer added stretch goals. With the growing popularity of the BeagleBone platform, developers announced they would also be working on a version of YaCy for the BeagleBone Black. Contributor rewards include a choice between the SD cards for either the Pi or the BeagleBone. However, users will have to supply their own hardware for the latter.

In what could be described as a celebratory move, the YaCyPi team has added the Hardkernel Odroid-U3 Quad-core to its growing list of supported Linux devices. As also indicated on their Kickstarter page, the team isn’t concerned about reaching a monetary goal in regards to the Odroid addition.

As indicated by the project’s Kickstarter page, the developers are nearing completion of the core YaCyPi image, with only a few efficiency issues to answer for.

For those who missed the Kickstarter campaign, hope is not lost, you can still get involved!  All you would need is a spare computer, or in the case of YaCyPi, a spare Raspberry Pi device. The image for the YaCyPi project is slated to release 2 months after the Kickstarter campaign. Users who want to contribute to network testing can download the installation package from the YaCy home page. There they will find versions for Linux, Windows and Mac as well as setup instructions.

Note: This is an updated version of the story with heavy inputs from Michael T. DeGuzis & Obsidian Security Services folks.

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