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Commotion Wireless is a project of The Open Tech Institute (OTI) which is a project of the New America Foundation.

Commotion and OTI have multiple interesting projects, including experimental support for Android devices and Mac OS X, a framework for running and finding apps on the network using Zeroconf DNS-SD (Byzantium Project also has something that does this), a mesh community mapping app, ubuntu gui integration scripts, a Freifunk-based OpenWRT firmware with a set of GUI improvements and a bootable GNU/Linux distro for running and open GSM base transceiver station (BTS) for cell phone communication.

An OpenWRT firmware is one part of the Commotion Wireless project.

Issues with funding and control

The New America foundation (or possibly just OTI) is funded by the state department.

Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, is on the board of directors for the New America Foundation. Here are couple of interesting quotes from Eric Schmidt:

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

I ACTUALLY think most people don't want Google to answer their questions, They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next‬


They seem to be trying to do the following:

  • Make mesh technology easier to use
Adding nice GUIs. Making things more automatic.
  • Make mesh technology more secure
Adding encryption. They like the Serval DNA library.
  • Target both PCs, smart phones and routers.
Bootable gnu/linux, android app, openwrt derivative.

OpenWRT firmware

The OpenWRT Commotion firmware seems to be based on the Freifunk firmware. It uses OLSR.

Firmware extensions

A plugin based on olsrd_secure which apparently makes each node sign outgoing packets. I'm not sure what this provides that an end to end secure link wouldn't provide. Interesting email thread on the OLSR developer list.
Apparently they aren't satisfied with OpenWRT's UCI abstraction layer, so they're making a C application that will provide a unified interface and support several meshing protocols (OLSR, Babel), abstracting away the differences.
Small program to browse Zeroconf services without requiring D-Bus.

Various GUI enhancements:

Seems similar to the wizard from the Freifunk firmware.
Commotion GUI addons for the OpenWRT web admin interface.
A web app that lists discovered applications/services on the mesh.
A Commotion LuCI theme?
An issue reporting system for users to report their problems.


TidePools is a mapping application that allows a community to map out resources. It is a web app designed to run on a web app. sudo room member Tunabananas worked on this project.

Android App

The Commotion Android application. This provides OLSR for Android. Based on an app called Barnacle Wifi Tether.

OS X App

Commotion MeshBook apparently allows computers running Mac OS X to join an OSLR mesh.

Ubuntu integration

The Network Manager OLSRd scripts developed by OTI integrates OLSR functionality into the Ubuntu GUI. We should test how well this works.


Commotion OpenBTS makes uses of existing open software and hardware for running a GSM base transceiver station (BTS) but bundles it up into an easily bootable GNU/Linux distribution that can e.g. be put on a USB stick.