Surfing the .eth web without gateways

Esteroids
4 min readAug 22, 2022

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Anouncement: you can now surf to .eth websites directly from esteroids.eth, without using .eth gateways!

To try it out! connect your wallet to esteroids.eth, and simply click on the website you want to visit, like this:

There are more details in our announcement tweet, and we give even more details below.

But let’s look at the problem we’re trying to solve.

Are .eth websites censorship resistance?

You worked hard to build a .eth website.

You were told that such a website is censorship-resistance, right? and why shouldn’t it be? The data of .eth websites is kept in two peer-to-peer networks, Ethereum and IPFS. As far as we know, the only way to censor a peer-to-peer network is by blocking the Internet itself.

Well, it’s technically correct, but not practically correct. Why? well, everyone currently use either .eth.link or .eth.limo gateways to access .eth websites. Even we, in our publications, use esteroids.eth.limo. It’s convenient, it’s fast and it’s what people got used to.

But at the end of the day, if most people use one of two gateways to access .eth websites, and if those two gateways block your .eth website, well, then it’s practically blocked.

So is your .eth website censorship resistance? is it really?

All the way to surf esteroids.eth

How did we get to this situation? Let’s look at all the ways to surf esteroids.eth.

  1. A .eth gateway. We mean surfing to esteroids.eth.limo or esteroids.eth.link. These are by far the most convenient, universal, fastest, and easiest way to surf the .eth web. No wonder they became a standard.
  2. Brave browser. Theoretically, if you type esteroids.eth into Brave, it should take you to our search engine. Practically (here we go with being practical again), it works only sometimes, and only on the desktop version. Brave did a great job and their on the right path to perfection, but it’s not there yet.
  3. Other browsers. Did someone say Opera? We heard so many stories of alternative browsers resolving .eth websites, but didn’t encounter yet one that works well. Please prove us wrong!
  4. Browser extensions. There was a time that people used browser extensions to surf .eth websites. There were Almonit, Unstoppable Domains, and even Esteroids extensions. However, since the main browsers kept on limiting more and more what extensions can do, these extensions ended up being inconvenient to use and eventually died out.
  5. Manually. Here’s how access .eth websites manually works. Go to the ENS App and look for esteroids.eth. The app will not only tell you the IPNS key we’re using but also provide a link to surf there! This method has its own cons (can be censored, and send you to only one IPFS gateway), but its biggest drawback is that it’s a hassle to use.

Since .eth gateways are currently the only universal and convenient method to access .eth websites, we kind of lost the censorship-resistance property of .eth websites.

Remark: situation would have been different if we had many different .eth gateways, based in many different places in the world. But for this to happen there need to be a financial model for running a gateway, and no one thought of any so far.

Suring the .eth web from esteroids.eth

We just added the ability to surf .eth websites directly from esteroids.eth. See the video at the top of this article.

How does it work? Well, first esteroids.eth connects to your Ethereum wallet. Don’t worry, you don’t need to sign everything or make any transactions. This step is meant to give you control on which web3 provider gives ENS data to surf .eth websites.

Once you’re connected the following process happens.

  1. esteroids.eth asks your Ethereum wallet to resolve the ENS name for the .eth website you want to surf. All of this happens without our involvement! This is only between you and your web3 provider. In case you run your own Ethereum node, then it’s only between you and yourself.
  2. esteroids.eth opens a new tab with the website, using a random IPFS gateway. Later on, we could add support for resolving using js-ipfs to make our solution even more autonomous.

The future

The future will need a .eth browser, with a new protocol, which will possibly be incompatible with the classic web.

The future might also require groups of people to run their own full nodes because if we keep on relying on commercial services for basic infrastructure, we’ll end up having the same problems over and over again.

Look, we have self-awareness. We are aware that our solution is still less convenient than using a gateway. We are also aware that most people use a standard web3 provider, that might as well end up censoring their queries to .eth websites.

But we think that our solution is more convenient than a browser extension and less centralized than .eth gateways. It’s a step in the right direction.

But wait, how do I access esteroids.eth to begin with?

Simple!

Use either esteroids.eth.limo or esteroids.eth.link.

If you want to avoid them, you can access us directly via an IPFS gateway.

Or if you don’t want any gateway, we are always accessible with the IPNS key:

k51qzi5uqu5djwbl0zcd4g9onue26a8nq97c0m9wp6kir1gibuyjxpkqpoxwag”

You can either run your own ipfs daemon (it’s easy to run on any personal computer or laptop!), or type :

ipns://k51qzi5uqu5djwbl0zcd4g9onue26a8nq97c0m9wp6kir1gibuyjxpkqpoxwag

in a Brave browser (desktop only at the moment).

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Esteroids

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