Google gifts 'Upspin' file sharing tech to the open-source community

The experimental project aims to make file sharing easier.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

There is a huge range of file-sharing services out there. From Dropbox to Google, Apple to Microsoft and torrenting software, there is no shortage of ways to share files at home or online -- but Google wants to streamline the process.


On Tuesday, the company revealed a new project which aims to reduce the fragmentation of current services and the amount of time wasted on "multi-step copying and repackaging."

How? By creating a global name space for all of your files.

Dubbed Upspin, Google's experimental project is described as a means to "build a framework for naming and sharing files and other data securely, uniformly, and globally: a global name system of sorts."

However, Upspin is not your typical file system, but rather a set of protocols and references which can be used to connect file systems and storage services to a global name space.

"Performance is not a primary goal. Uniformity and security are," the developers say.

Once a file has been given an Upspin name, the file can be copied without having to upload and download data streams, and can be shared securely with anyone that has permission to access the network.

The project may have applications in the enterprise, but Google believes there is more intrinsic value in Upspin for home users that want an easy-to-understand file-sharing system which makes file sharing a quick and less time-consuming task.

Google explains that Upspin requires file names to begin with a user's email address, followed by a slash-separated Unix-like path name -- such as ann@example.com/dir/file, which is then evaluated by Upspin to identify other files and directories.

Users with permission to access this file can do so, and if a user wishes to extend permissions, they only need to add a file called "Access" to the directory which describes the permissions they want to grant. For example, "read: joe@here.com, mae@there.com."

This access is also enforced end-to-end with cryptography, so cleartext is only hosted on Upspin clients. The tech giant says that security is tightened up even more by not allowing cloud storage to extend part "the trust boundary."

"Upspin is a layer of infrastructure that other software and services can build on to facilitate secure access and sharing," Google says. "Upspin is not an "app" or a web service, but rather a suite of software components, intended to run on the network and on devices connected to it, that together provide a secure, modern information storage and sharing network."

The experimental project has been given to the open-source community, but Google engineers will still likely contribute to Upspin by integrating it in the future with the open-source Key Transparency server.

You can check out the Upspin GitHub repository here.

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