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Installing and Using Bitmessage

Discussion in 'Bitmessage' started by melbo, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    We'll be creating our own tutorials soon but this is a really good start:
    Setting Up And Using Bitmessage – An Encrypted Communications Platform Based On Bitcoin

    I’ve just finished reading the Bitmessage white paper by Jonathan Warren and must say I find myself inspired.BitMessage is the decentralized peer to peer communication system that uses basic encryption to keep both sender and receiver anonymous, if they choose. While Bitmessage is still very new, it is a potential game changer when it comes to secure communications. Living in a time where large data centers that can store all our private communications are a reality, BitMessage provides a degree of resistance. Here’s an overview of BitMessage as well as a quick tutorial on setting up the client.

    An Overview Of Bitmessage

    BitMessage uses a form of public key encryption to secure communications between two parties over the internet. As outlined in the Bitmessage white paper current solutions for encrypted email are difficult to use and require exchanging both an email address and encryption keys through a trusted third party.

    With BitMessage a series of unique solutions are used to allow users to communicate with just a 36 character address. The protocol, loosely based off of Bitcoin, uses your computer’s processing power to process messages. Each message requires a proof of work that is designed to take around four minutes.

    Another important feature of Bitmessage is the ability to broadcast messages or to subscribe to broadcasts. Broadcasts are messages that are sent out to any group of Bitmessage users that are listening. In this way, organizations or individuals can get information out to their subscribers anonymously if they choose. I’ve recently started to use Bitmessage’s broadcast feature for my recent posts and updates here on CryptoJunky.

    Setting Up Bitmessage

    Setting up BitMessage couldn’t be easier. If you’re a windows user click here for the .exe file. If you’re a Mac OS X or Linux user the python code is available through BitMessage.org. I’ll be covering the basics with Windows here, though it should be about the same with Mac OS X and Linux. Once you’ve opened up BitMessage you’ll need to create an ‘identity’ or two as they’re referred to.


    Start by going to the ‘your identities’ tab and clicking ‘new’. You’ll see two options pop up, one that allows you to make a random number generator and another that uses a passphrase to make addresses. I suggest that you use a passphrase to make your address(es) as you will then be able to use these identities on another machine or another installation of BitMessage. If you choose this option you will also have a number of addresses to make, the default is eight.


    Once you’ve decided on a passphrase go ahead and find a good place to store it or have something easily remembered. There is no recovery kit for lost BitMessage passwords. You’ll also need the address version number to replicate these addresses on another computer (I also record the Stream number).

    Sending And Receiving Your First Message

    So you have your client set up and you’d like to actually use this thing. Well if you’d like to send a test message you can send one to me and I’ll send one on back. Go to the ‘send’ tab of the BitMessage client and enter the following address in the ‘to’ field:


    Once you’ve done that just choose one of your addresses to use as a ‘From’ address and fill in your test message. Once the message is complete click send. It will take a few minutes for the message to be processed and sent so don’t shut down BitMessage or your computer during that time.


    If you’d like to try out the broadcast/subscription feature you can go to the ‘Subscriptions’ tab and click the add button. Enter the same address as above and you’ll receive the messages I send out when I have a decent new post or service to announce.

    BitMessage Communities

    Given that BitMessage is still relatively young there aren’t too many communities for it yet. If you’re starting out now it’s like that you’re an early adopter. There is aBitMessage forum over at BitMessage.org. There is also a BitMessage subreddit over at Reddit under r/BitMessage. There’s a lot more that you can do with BitMessage than just what I’ve covered here so play around with it, explore, and let me know what you find!
    Garand69 and Ganado like this.
  2. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Very interesting.... guess I have some more reading to do. [winkthumb]
  3. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    I like that there is really no "installation" to be done, the program is just the executable that you download (unless you happen to be on Fedora, then you have some tinkering to do).

    Keeping in mind that when generating your identities, if you choose to use a pass phrase you can "regen" your keys on another computer, but you MUST know your address version and stream number.
  4. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Here are some pointers when installing to a thumb drive, or at least what I did.

    I had previously run the program from the hard drive so I had my identity keys already made, this was no problem.

    I copied the executable to the thumb drive and ran it. Since, by default, the program looks in the users application folder for the necessary data, the program opened and read the existing data files.

    Click on the "Settings" menu, then check the "Run in Portable Mode", Click "Save". This copies any existing data files to the directory that the program is in on the thumb drive.

    As far as disk space goes, the program itself is only about 15Mb, but the data files take up just over 87Mb.

    Ganado likes this.
  5. scpn

    scpn Monkey

    i installed it, and set up identities, tried to send test msg, but it says I'm not connected. I don't know anything about the network settings (SOCKS 4a or 5). I do not want to process message traffic for the whole world. What do i need to set just to communicate with you folks?
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    The way bitmessage works, all messages are broadcast to everyone. Your local client attempts to decrypt them all and then shows you messages that it was able to decrypt (with your keys).

    As far as network settings, dunno how to help from here. Can you send a test to yourself?
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