New Chorus One architecture simplifies Urbit use

Red Horizon can run an urbit server for users on its cloud, but it also enables them to download the file and run it themselves

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DiegoMariottini/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Chorus One, one of the largest institutional staking providers, has launched Red Horizon — software designed to streamline developers’ interaction with the Urbit server.

Urbit is an architectural framework that is blockchain adjacent. It is not a traditional blockchain, but rather a different approach to programming and design, Gary Lieberman, Urbit lead at Chorus One, told Blockworks.

The architecture is designed to be a peer-to-peer network of personal servers, where each person has their own “urbit” — or a computer that runs in the cloud.

“It’s a computer that’s always on, always connected, it’s always sending and receiving messages, and running programs that tell it what to do when it sends and receives a message,” Lieberman said.

Traditionally, when a user sends messages through encrypted messaging platforms, the information is still passed through a cloud server — usually run by a large corporation or centralized entity, such as AWS. 

Although there may be very legitimate reasons for people to want to run their own server— such as censorship resistance, interoperability and privacy — the process as it exists is rather tedious. 

Urbit simplifies this and rethinks programming by making personal servers more accessible. 

“You have a web page that looks vaguely similar to the iOS homepage, and you have different apps you can install,” Lieberman said. “The apps are then installed on your urbit, your personal server that lives in the cloud.”

Each urbit is secure and private, entirely under the control of the user. When connecting with others to send a message, a user can connect to a different user’s urbit directly, without ever having to rely on a centralized service provider.

Red Horizon is simplifying on and offboarding to Urbit 

Red Horizon is designed to simplify the onboarding and offboarding process to Urbit — removing all necessary technical skills to use the protocol — making it more accessible to non-technical users.

“You can sign up to be onboarded through us, then should you choose that your ideals are more sovereign than running your personal server in the cloud, then you can click a button and export this urbit, download your personal server as a file and run it at home,” Lieberman said.

The opposite is also possible. Any user that no longer wishes to run their own server or chooses to move from a different provider can opt into Red Horizon, which will run a user’s server in its cloud. 

According to Urbit’s network explorer, over 4,000 personal servers are running on Urbit.  

“I would expect the number of active users to be quite a bit lower than this, because Urbit’s job is to sit there and stay connected, which means even if someone is not using it, there might be a hosting provider that is holding it there, or someone who set it up and forgot about it,” Lieberman explains.

Despite this, there is still a clear interest in the Urbit mission — the number of servers on Urbit have doubled over the past six months.

“I still don’t think there are powerful products on Urbit the way people imagine them to be, but we’re so much closer to that vision and people are starting to take it more seriously,” he said.


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