Help make the internet better

Back in January I wrote about a small tool I had thrown together to do some internet measurements. Back then we decided not to take the next step and attempt to roll the tool out to a large audience.

We have decided we need the network edge data after all and I need your help.

First, you can get edgetrace from https://trace.erg.abdn.ac.uk

In short: We need measurements from as many network edges as possible. Places where people connect are almost always near the edges of the internet. Your home, office, the pub or a park with WiFi is probably near the edge. We need your help by running our tool from these sorts of places. The more the better.

In full: Packets on the internet are given a Best Effort service by default, everything is treated the same. The packets for your video call are treated the same way as a large download, but that means there is more latency when queues grow and packets in your file transfer are dropped when there is network pressure. With Quality of Service and Active Queue Management we can build networks that allow latency sensitive packets through the queue quicker while also stopping packets that shouldn't be dropped from being dropped.

The DSCP Bits in the IP header are used give different IP packets different Quality of Service classes. Right now, no one is really sure how these marks are treated; Are they removed? Changed in someone way? Or much worse, does the presence of these marks lead to packets being dropped?

To find this out we need to perform a survey, we can (and have) bought time on virtual machines in data centers, but that only measures things that are close to the network core. We also need to measure how these marks are treated at the edge, on connections that real people use.

There isn't anyway to easily perform these measurements without asking a whole lot of people for help. This is where you come in.

We need you to download and run our tool. If you can do it from home, the bus or the train that is excellent. Every run of the tool helps us build up more data about what is happening in the internet.

Thank you for helping make the internet better.


Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Difference Engine

Aberdeen, Scotland: 5°C, Partly cloudy throughout the day.

blog morning

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