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Speed and scale: The power and potential of Lokinet

Lokinet is creating an onion-routed information speedway
27 January 2022Alex Linton

Onion routing is slow. Well, normally it’s slow. Whenever people use an onion-router for the first time, the first thing they comment on is always how slooooooow everything loads. It’s like going back to the days of dial-up — and a lot of the time the connection will just time out and load nothing after several limits. 

There's gotta be a better way

There’s a better way. Those slow speeds are a combination of a number of issues including inefficient protocols and under-equipped nodes on the network. 

Enter Lokinet: An onion-router with a lightweight, efficient protocol (LLARP) that can carry anything that fits inside an IP packet, and supercharged, incentivised nodes doing all the heavy lifting. 

I got a need…a need for speed, privacy, anonymity, and security

LLARP is a truly game-changing protocol, and Lokinet is currently the biggest LLARP-enabled network in the entire world. Currently, Lokinet adoption is still in its early stages—which means the network is operating well below capacity—and it is able to achieve literally mind-boggling speeds. 

Spotted: Lokinet developer reporting back exit speeds fast enough to do…pretty much anything the average internet-user does in a day. [note: speeds only achievable when all the planets align, you have a tailwind, and lokinet compiled with --omg-optimized -funroll-loops -O9 -ffaster-math]

Lokinet exit speed record

One of the major factors stopping everyday adoption of onion-routing is speed. Even though it has huge privacy and security benefits, most people aren’t willing to wait ten seconds for your average webpage to load (and rightfully so). 

As the reference implementation for LLARP, Lokinet is already proving that onion-routing can seamlessly integrate into our digital lives. The best part is: pretty much any kind of network can make use of LLARP. Your VPN provider. The intranet at work. Even your home network. The protocol can carry anything that fits inside an IP packet, so the potential applications are pretty much completely limitless. It’s hard to even begin explaining the potential uses — because the only real limit is your imagination.

What can you do with Lokinet? Well, what can you do with the internet? If the internet can do it, so can LLARP. But LLARP offers an additional level of security, anonymity, and privacy compared with the ‘normal’ internet. With the way privacy is heading in the tech industry — that’s a really big deal. 

The Lokinet-work

Lokinet is just one network — the one running on the Oxen Service Node Network. It’s incredible, powerful, and fast — but it does have a limit. At some point, if enough people were using Lokinet, the network would start to slow down. It’s hard to know for sure what those usage breakpoints could actually be, but issues would mainly arise if adoption greatly outpaced the growth of the network itself.

Luckily for us, anybody can use LLARP. Really, anyone. It’s extremely simple to create a network fork of Lokinet, you don’t even have to recompile anything. In the future, there could be an enormous plurality of different networks just like Lokinet — each being used for their own purpose, community, or service. These various networks could even be interoperable, creating a distributed, self-hosted, self-managed version of the internet. 

It’s also possible to create a stakeless version of Lokinet—an ‘opennet’—although nobody has actually tried to create this yet — probably it would be extremely expensive to support and operate without anything to offset the cost.

The future of Lokinet and LLARP

The sky is truly the limit for Lokinet and LLARP. As a protocol, it is so simple and lightweight—while providing huge boons—that it could easily become an industry standard. We imagine a future where Lokinet is just…there. People don’t necessarily need to interact with it or notice it, but they can still reap the benefits. 

When we’re testing Lokinet around the office, we often leave it on and forget it’s running in the background. That’s the kind of seamless, frictionless integration into our existing digital lives that is required to get true adoption. Lokinet doesn’t care what application you’re using. What operating system you have. It doesn’t need plugins. It just works.

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