Joachim Breitner

My contribution to XKCD’s #949 is not needed

Published 2013-12-19 in sections English, Digital World.

A few hours ago I posted about share-file, a small tool to make a local file available at a public URL so that it is transferred from my machine, without being stored at some central server. I wanted to create something like FileTea, but usable from the command line.

My post made it to HackerNews (which brought my server to its knees for a while; let’s say I had the opportunity to find out what setting for apache’s MaxClient option works on my machine...), where the comments (besides some misunderstanding about the notable features of share-file) contained interesting links related to solving #949:

  • First of all, James Brechin implemented a command line client for FileTea. It is not clear to me whether he created it in response to my posting, or whether it lay around for a while, but I don’t care: It does precisely what I need, making share-file obsolete for me. Lazyweb works!
  • There is a service very similar to FileTea, but seemingly developed independently, at It seems that this task is best solved using unorthodox programming language choices; while FileTea uses C and glib (not common in web applications), fipes, the software behind fipelines, is implemented in Erlang.
  • The new and shiny thing for peer-to-peer communication without additional software is WebRTC, which only needs a modern browser, and there is a chat- and file-transfer program at I did not test how well it handles the case where both sides are behind a NAT, though, and sending a ready-to-use link is still simpler for the other side.
  • I found another WebRTC-based tool that focuses on sharing files only, and where users who have downloaded a file will, as long as their browser tab is open, help uploading it –  a bit like Bittorrent. So if you need to share a file with many people (all of which are using up-to-date non-IE browsers), sharefest is worth a try.


Hi nomeata,

thanks for your two posts which made me discover FileTea and fipes. I added both to where you might find other open source solutions to xkcd#949

cheers, josch
#1 josch (Homepage) am 2013-12-20

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