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OpenBazaar has released beta version 0.4.0 for Linux and Mac users, with Windows users once again left waiting for executable binaries, which are promised to be released soon.
OpenBazaar, previously known as DarkMarket, is a decentralized marketplace that expands on the libertarian ideals behind Deep Web services such as the Silk Road. OpenBazaar has dubbed the new version ‘Portobello,’ after the famous street market in London.
The update includes some major additions. Security wise, the service now includes HD key signing and an internal messaging system. It gives notaries, essentially optional third-party arbitrators of the service, more features. They now have the ability to offer refunds for the buyer and to release funds for the seller, and they have the option to set their own fee percentage.
On the usability front, the service now supports avatars and up to four product images per listing, the search function has been improved, and they have added a “simple walk-through.”
Binaries have not yet been released, so it will take a bit of technical know-how to get the system running. They say it shouldn't be long, and a Windows release is expected at that time.
OpenBazaar is largely seen as the spiritual successor to the Silk Road, the deceased Deep Web marketplace known for offering illegal drugs and other services. Many hope that OpenBazaar will become more than that—a decentralized and uncensored marketplace that doesn't focus on illegal substances, but also doesn't shun them. The re-branding from DarkMarket was largely seen as a step towards that.
In an interview with Brave New Coin, lead developer Brian Hoffman explained some of the changes in the new system and the challenges they face.
“One of the legacy pieces of our application that was holding us back for a long time was ZeroMQ. It wasn’t really designed with P2P across the Internet in mind and we spent a long time trying to whip it into submission. We scrapped it and built our own UDP-based networking code. [...] It takes time to build a strong peer to peer network, marketplace protocol, desktop application all on their own and this incorporates all of them and we do it in our spare time. It’s the definition of challenging.”
We will have more on OpenBazaar as its development progresses. You can donate to the project here.
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