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This is a documentation website for technical people to deeply understand and setup Dull. Visit our website by clicking the link above, for a less technical introduction.

Introduction

Our Story

We built Dull for ourselves out of necessity.

In the past, we tried OpenVPN, PPTP (VPN), NeoRouter, Hamachi LogMeIn, TeamViewer, and many more with varying success. Ultimately, our bigger customers couldn't trust these, they we're blocked by their firewall by default, and the ones that worked were not reliable enough or didn't have the features we needed.

We had general scalability demands, needing to manage hundreds of devices and systems across many customers. The most challenging remote access issues involved developing integration solutions that read data from third-party software systems on customer networks that had no documentation, and no way of duplicating in our office.

So we built Dull, a Software-Defined Tunnelling framework, that allowed flexibility to customise for each customer, and on a network that we controlled so our customers could trust it. Instead of multiple systems for various customers, we now only needed one.

We're sure we are not alone with these kinds of problems, so we decided to share it with the world.

Here is a basic introduction, if you're not into stories

What: Encrypted tunnels your customers can trust

Dull is internet tunnelling software that you can host and control, so no data passes through third-party servers. You can point support tools, like TightVNC, to connect through Dull tunnels knowing that security is tight and in your control.

Who: For IT support workers

If you manage machines, devices, or software, Dull is for you. It works for your customers who have strongest security compliance demands. You get strong encryption out of the box, and the freedom to custom fit to varying scenarios, so you're never stuck.

Why: Software your customers can trust

Vigilant security conscious customers shouldn't have to worry about third-parties intercepting data or access. Dull lets you host your own server, and provides granular power to design tunnels to fit their constraints.

{% page-ref page="new-concepts/security-principles.md" %}

How: Software-defined tunnelling

Normally, you get one fixed way to connect from point A to point B. If you use a PPTP VPN system, then it uses a virtual network adaptor, with the PPTP tunnelling protocol via a central VPN server. One way.

With Dull, you can combine multiple systems together, and compose new protocols to suit your needs customised for each endpoint.

Dull is a framework for building network tunnels.

The Software-defined tunnelling approach transcends any particular VPN product or remote networking system, it lets you integrate tunnelling systems, and create completely new kinds of tunnelling systems.

{% page-ref page="new-concepts/" %}

Micromanagement + Software Automation = Full Power

You'll see in the guides included in this documentation section, that it can be a little tedious setting up a basic Dull tunnel. That's primarily to give you an introduction how it works. As you work through the guides, you'll see that such tediousness is easily automated with centralised configuration files and a simple yet powerful way to integrate management into your own administration and support software.

The brand

The name: Dull

We were inspired by the ironic names of "Slack" and "Boring" company. Of course "Boring", is a physical digging company and the name has a double-meaning. Try this approach yourself, there are heaps of ironic brand names out there, simple single words that big corporations haven't exhausted.

It's important to remember, that Dull isn't Boring.

The brand logo

The dull logo

Everyone needs an some kind of brand icon, because ultimately Chrome prominently displays the favicon in the browser tab. We didn't want anything tacky or typical, but needed something that helped reflect what Dull is.

We wanted to avoid any "shield" commonly found with internet-shielding proxy VPNs, because Dull isn't a proxy VPN, but a way to build one. We wanted to avoid any imagery related to "routing", because a tunnel is about one path for two endpoints.

We knew what we didn't want, but we weren't sure what we did want.

We browsed through brand crowd, without much of an idea of what we were looking for. This made the shortlist, and we found it to be a perfect fit.

Meaning:

  • OSI layers - if you're technical, you'll understand that networking is typically visualised as encapsulated layers. This logo approximates that shape, with the raised sides representing the higher-level layers and the lower side the layers closest to the actual network packet transport.
  • Bi-directional - communication isn't one way, but bidirectional, and this logo represents this well.
  • Tunnel - you can see the visual approximation of a "tube". It could also be said to be a single "duct".
  • It's a letter U, found in the word "dull". No it's not a W.
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