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Building the Peer-to-Peer Internet

Workshop Series by Toronto Mesh

Build Status GitHub release


Participants will learn about community networks, wireless mesh networks, distributed applications, and train their pet Raspberry Pi to do networking things. While this course assumes no technical expertise, all sessions contain a technical hands-on component and a reflection activity to explore the role of technologies on our society. A socially-minded tinkerer who enjoys a collaborative learning experience will be the ideal participant.

This course can be facilitated in an environment without internet access. Participants will be expected to bring their own laptop.

Duration: 1.5 hours per week for 6 weeks

Module Topics

  1. What is mesh?
  2. Setting up your first node
  3. Building nodes (hardware)
  4. Planning a network
  5. Measuring networks
  6. Living on a decentralized network

Learning Outcomes

  • Working with Raspberry Pi's to make a network router
  • Building mesh networks and running peer-to-peer applications
  • Understanding the barriers to access and the history of the internet in Toronto as well as mesh networks worldwide
  • Unpacking the values of distributed vs. centralized systems
  • Applying network security and private communications
  • Starting and maintaining a sustainable community mesh network


  • Each participant will have a hardware kit
  • Participants will bring their own laptop
  • Participants will receive primer information via a welcome email, which includes laptop setup instructions, a Linux shell primer, and a pre-workshop survey
  • Participants are comfortable using a computer before, with no assumptions about prior programming or networking knowledge

Facilitation Guidelines

  • Each module should be presented by a lead facilitator driving the session according to the lesson plan
  • Aim to have one helper for every 6 students, responsible for:
    • Providing assistance during hands-on sections
    • Keeping groups on schedule for each activity
    • Having one helper observe the class and providing feedback (sample reflection questions)
  • Use a shared notepad for:
    • Sharing notes and links
    • Jargon-busting
  • Conclude with a ticket out the door activity where students can optionally and anonymously leave feedback as they leave the class

Workshop Materials

Class materials are written as Markdown files and presentation slides are created as Markdown-based Remark slides. All generated assets are hosted on GitHub Pages and packaged as a downloadable archive on GitHub Releases.

If you want to generate course assets yourself, simply run ./ and ./ You will find the generated assets in the output folder. The ./ script is used to zip up the generated assets into downloadable archives and to create the course website.

Travis CI is configured to build, package, and publish a new release to GitHub Pages and Releases whenever a new tag is pushed. So all you need to create a new release is to push a new tag with git tag <version> and git push --tag.


Each node consists of one:

It is possible to use other USB WiFi adapters with rt2800usb, ath9k_htc, or rtl8192cu drivers with slight modifications to the software.

Other accessories:

  • Ethernet cables
  • A network switch may come in handy
  • LoRa hardware for Module 6: Living on a decentralized network


  1. Download the latest mesh-orange release of raspberrypi3-<version>_default.img, then flash the image onto an SD card with a tool like Etcher.

  2. Download the latest mesh-workshop release and unpack it. Mount the FAT partition of the SD card you flashed in the previous step, then use the tool mesh-workshop to install workshop files on each node:

     $ ./mesh-workshop
     Usage:   mesh-workshop confpath nodename
     Example: mesh-workshop /Volumes/BOOT/conf.d/ bloor

    The example shows a path to your SD card on Mac OS, your local path may differ. The command installs node profile and workshop files to the SD card conf.d for the node with hostname bloor.


The first version of this syllabus is created by Toronto Mesh contributors: @benhylau, @darkdrgn2k, @dcwalk, @uditvira, @Shrinks99, and @Pedro-on-a-bike. While most of the material is created new, the course also incorporates many prior works listed here, or otherwise referenced in their individual course modules.

Hands-on activities rely on software from many projects: mesh-orange, mesh-router-builder, mesh-workshop, steamlink, cjdns, Yggdrasil, IPFS, Secure Scuttlebutt. Course material generation uses markdown-pdf and decktape. The course website is built with Jekyll, and the theme is from Mozilla's Open Leadership Training Series. Icons from Font Awesome and Jake Ingman are used.


All Building the Peer-to-Peer Internet workshop materials at are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, the text of which is included in the repository LICENSE file.