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Zerospan

Zerospan is a free application for Mac OS X that can “bridge” any two computers via Zeroconf (aka Rendezvous or Bonjour), allowing you to share iTunes, file sharing, SSH, and more.

(Suggestions for a BetterBlurb are welcome!)

Concept

Have you ever wanted to share things between two computers that were not on the same network? With Zerospan you can. Zerospan lets you access services on your friend's computer as if it were sitting next to you—even when its not.

Using Zerospan

  • First, install Zerospan. Installing Zerospan is similar to installing most Mac OS X applications.
    • Download the Zerospan disk image
    • If a Zerospan window doesn't open automatically, double click the downloaded file
    • Drag the Zerospan application to your applications folder (Or wherever you'd like to keep it)
    • Eject the Zerospan disk image
    • Drag the file you downloaded to the trash, as it is no longer needed
    • To load Zerospan, locate it in the applications folder and double click.
  • In order to connect to your buddy’s computer, they’ll need to be running Zerospan too. Furthermore, you need to have your buddy’s email address in your Address Book, and they need to have your email address in theirs. Your “Me” e-mail address must also be set (Otherwise you get a big, nasty error). See SettingUpAddressBook?.
  • When you run Zerospan, you will see a list of names, taken from your Address Book, like this:

http://zerospan.org/screenshot01.png

  • In Zerospan, everyone is identified by their email address. You can control who can connect to your computer. By default, nobody can connect.
  • Have your buddy select you in the list on their computer and click “Allow to Connect”
  • On your computer, select your buddy and click “Connect”—you will see a progress dialog while Zerospan attempts to establish the connection.
  • Despite our best efforts, there are still some situations where connecting will not work. Don’t panic! See the Troubleshooting section below.
  • Once you are connected to your buddy, you should be able to see all of their Bonjour services in your Bonjour-enabled apps. For examples of apps that work with Zerospan, see the Examples section below.

Troubleshooting

It’s not uncommon for networks these days to be configured in a hostile way. However, don’t give up—there is usually a way to establish some kind of connection.

In order to establish a connection, one of the computers involved has to be reachable from the internet. This means that the computer is directly connected to the internet, is a DMZ host, or they are behind a UPnP-enabled NAT or firewall. If you don’t know what kind of connection you have, that’s ok. Try the following procedure and see if it works:

  1. Make sure you have the right email address for your buddy in your Address Book. If you have multiple addresses for your buddy, keep in mind that Zerospan only looks at the first one. Make sure your buddy has the same address in their “Me” card in Address Book.
  2. If you can’t connect to your buddy, try having them connect to you. Sometimes networks are set up asymmetrically. Be aware that Zerospan connections are unidirectional—just because you are able to see services from your buddy does not mean they can see your services. This protects your privacy in cases where you don’t want to share your services.
  3. If your NAT or firewall doesn’t support UPnP, all is not lost. You can manually set up port mapping for the standard Kenosis ports (5005–5015 and 2000–2009—sorry, we’ll combine these two ranges soon). Simply map these ports to your IP address; Zerospan will automatically detect this.
  4. Try running Zerospan from the command line. Run terminal, cd into the directory containing Zerospan and run Zerospan.app/Contents/MacOS/Zerospan.

If you need additional help, just ask. Email help@zerospan.org and we’ll do our best to get you up and running.

Suggestions

Have a suggestion for how Zerospan could be improved? List it here.

  • Have a big “You are online as X” UI element.
  • Support multiple email addresses sensibly.
  • Make it a preference pane, that would in my mind be the most appropriate place for it to be.
  • Support some kind of “headless” operation—I also vote for the preferences pane.
  • Make a better UI , use something similar to iChat
  • Remove reading addresses from AB ( use less ) just add email addresses manually .
  • Make possible to use port 80
  • Add online presence
  • Remove " bridged " from Buddy Name prefix
  • Run app as demon , no icon on the dock , or let work from pref pannel and add menu bar icon .
  • Pls use a cutom icon for zerospan.app
  • Change name app to Frejus . the Frejus it's a long tunnel from Italy to France and it sound close to Bonjour and Rendezvous.

How it works

Zerospan uses the Kenosis p2p RPC system. It generates node ids by hashing email addresses. When you connect to another node using Zerospan, it makes an RPC call to that node and, if you are authorized to connect, retrieves a list of Rendezvous services. For each of these services, it creates a tunnel that can accept TCP traffic on your machine and forward it to the remote machine. It also uses Zeroconf to publish this tunnel’s presence.

Supported apps

In theory, Zerospan should work transparently with any Rendezvous/Bonjour/Zeroconf-enabled app. However, in practice, not all apps are fully Zerospan compatible. Here are the apps we’ve tested. Please feel free to try other apps and report how they work!

  • http://zerospan.org/appicons/iChat.png iChat - Bonjour chat is supported, including file transfer. See How to use iChat with Zerospan.
  • SSH - works in 10.4. In Panther (OS X 10.3), Terminal has a bug where it ignores the port number published in Bonjour. However, you can work around this by using a RendezvousBrowser? to find this port number and specifying it on the command line (using the -p option).
  • http://zerospan.org/appicons/afp.png Apple file sharing - works.
  • Safari - works
  • iTunes - songs appear and play. See HowToUseItunes.
  • xinetd - publishes Bonjour entries for its services.
  • See CompleteListOfServices for every service Zerospan can work with.

Supported networks

Some information about what kinds of networks Zerospan works with. Generally, any two machines that are either directly connected to the internet or behind a UPnP NAT device. See Troubleshooting above.

Other Info

  • Sorry we haven’t put together any documentation yet—but we will! If you’d like to help out, we could really use some beta testers and documentation writers.
  • To try Zerospan, just give it to a friend who also has a Mac. Make sure they are in your address-book (and that they have you in theirs). Then, you both run Zerospan. Have them set you to “Allow to connect” and then you can connect to them and see their Rendezvous services.
  • When you are connecting to another Zerospan user, you don’t need to specify their IP address—Zerospan figures it out automatically from their email address. The catch is that you both need to be running Zerospan in order to connect to each other. Once you’re connected to your friend via Zerospan, you can use all their Rendezvous services as if they were sitting right next to you.
  • Zerospan uses the Kenosis RPC system to map each email address to a physical machine. If you’re behind a UPNP-enabled NAT, you can receive incoming connections, otherwise you need to connect to someone who is on the real internet (or who is behind UPNP).

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