• DerinA
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    2 months ago

    There’s a lot of FUD in this comments section, so I’d like to clear the air. I’m pretty big on OSS myself, so it pains me to see a company doing all the right things get lambasted like this.

    Beeper is just a Matrix server running in tandem with a series of custom, open source bridges written by Beeper. The value proposition is not having to deploy a Matrix server yourself, and not having to deploy each bridge yourself.

    However, if you want to do that you absolutely can. I’ve been running Synapse + a subset of their bridges for a couple years now (the WhatsApp one being the oldest), and they are fantastic.

    The devs contribute back to Matrix all the time and are great about supporting the spec as a responsible third party.

    Their only closed source software is their client, which is - by definition - only written to work with their servers and not generic Matrix servers (e.g. It’s just a preconfigured matrix client which expects each bridge to be deployed, and doesn’t ask you for things like what server you want). As a result, you wouldn’t want to use it with your own stack; you can just pick one of the myriad OSS clients available for Matrix and go with that. I use SchildiChat, for example.

    I don’t understand why, after doing all this work and publishing the source online for free (free as in freedom), they aren’t allowed to offer a preconfigured service to non tech savvy folk?

    Honest question: Shouldn’t they be paid for their work?

    Edit: And, please, stop asking questions like “How do they connect to X/Y/Z, anyway?” - just go read the source and see for yourself. These are the good guys working completely in the open, and you’re treating them as if Twitter just wrote a chat app.

    • @jarfil@beehaw.org
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      202 months ago

      Not sure there is much FUD, let me see if I can sum up the points:

      • Beeper devs have written a bunch of bridges between Matrix and other services. ✅ Cool
      • They’ve contributed to Matrix. ✅ Cool
      • End-to-end encryption, ends at each bridge server, which needs to decrypt and re-encrypt every message (¹). ❌ Not cool
      • They’re OpenSource, so anyone can self-host their own bridge. ✅ That’s cool… but contrary to the “value proposition” of not having to do so 🤷
      • Encryption in anything closed source, like their client, is ❌ not cool… but you can use a different client, so 🤷
      • Decryption on not-selfhosted servers, is ❌ not cool… but you can self-host them, so 🤷
      • All clients come “preconfigured” for some service 🤷, but theirs is locked to a service. ❌ Not cool
      • People using a client with E2EE, get that expectation broken by Beeper (client) users giving their keys to a bridge hosted by a 3rd party. ❌ Not cool
      • FUD: The devs’ monetization strategy isn’t clear. (“premium features” in the client? 🧐)

      TL;DR: Sounds like a reasonable way to move unencrypted messages around… but falls short of fixing the problem of having secure interoperable E2EE.

      Should they get paid for it? Probably, if you find that useful.

      (¹: if there is any bridge capable of forwarding encrypted messages without decrypting, please correct me)

      • DerinA
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        42 months ago

        The not cool parts just relate to any sort of hosted bridge. If you don’t trust them with decrypting messages on their end, then don’t give them your data - there are no bridges capable of doing that, anywhere.

        So it really comes down to “trust someone else with your data, or host it yourself”; and if you’re - understandably - frustrated with those options blame companies like WhatsApp or Discord that make it nigh impossible to integrate their services with outside networks.

        Functionally, these bridges just forward your content to a library acting like a headless client - there’s no way to encrypt that as the reverse engineered clients are not libraries and need to take raw input. You can’t end to end encrypt it as the client is one of the “ends”.

        As an example, the WhatsApp bridge uses WhatsApp web as a backend, and has all the limitations of WA web.

        As a result, I find the expectations to be a bit unrealistic.

      • @flashgnash@lemm.ee
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        22 months ago

        Does the whole encryption/decryption thing still bother you if you self host?

        I tried out the app, the value there is that it’s ready to go straight away, though I took it all down again because my messages being unencrypted on someone else’s server makes me uneasy. May end up self hosting it for that reason and not using anything closed source

        • @jarfil@beehaw.org
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          32 months ago

          Somewhat. It’s kind of a gradation:

          • 3rd party servers, or closed source, no trust.
          • Self-hosting on a hosting provider… it’s not my hardware, but maybe some trust.
          • OpenSource with non-reproducible builds, even self-hosted at home, little trust.
          • Local bridges, OpenSource, with reproducible builds, and a 3rd party audit, most trust.

          All software can have bugs, and we’ve seen what cases like xz-util can bring, so I would rather have no decrypting bridges at all, particularly for sensitive information… but for random private chats, “mostly trusted” sounds like enough.

          Public conversations (like this one) are fine going through random bridges, but I feel like bridging with E2EE networks, is subverting user expectations.

    • @Kissaki@beehaw.org
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      42 months ago

      Seems like they did good until now. I’m not confident, even skeptical, that will keep going after the acquisition though.

      Gravatar was a great, independent, minimal service. Now it’s a horrendous, bloated service.

      • DerinA
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        22 months ago

        I hope they continue to do good, but am also skeptical.

        And, man, I miss the old Gravatar.