Simple, Durable, Yours

We built Urbit from scratch to be a system that’s simple, durable, and yours. Everything that computing today is not — but should be.

October 16, 2019

We live in a world dense with digital services. We see the world through them, we depend on them completely, and they’re not going away. They’re only becoming more ubiquitous.

But computers are a mess.

We spend all our time switching between services, juggling logins and different interfaces. And once we’re logged in, the services we use harvest our data, spy on us, and often shut down with little warning.

If computers are going to be a part of our lives for generations to come, we need a sound foundation for them. We need a system, not a grab bag of apps and services. Urbit is that system.

We built Urbit from scratch to be a system that’s simple, durable, and yours. Everything that computing today is not — but should be.

What do we mean by simple, durable, and yours? Let’s walk through it one by one.


Urbit is designed to be incredibly simple for ordinary users. Your data, applications, and connections all live in a single, unified operating system that belongs to you. Your Urbit requires no system administration and gets all its updates over the air. For developers, Urbit is incredibly compact and efficient. It’s about 50K lines of code — smaller than your average webapp. The entire OS can be understood by a single person and is designed to make building decentralized apps straightforward.


Your Urbit is designed to be durable: both to store your data across generations and to be resilient against crashes. You can't really trust a computer that could disappear or become obsolete. We’ve become accustomed to this distrust, but it’s not the way things should be. Your Urbit is meant to be a permanent digital home. At its foundation, Urbit is designed a bit like a blockchain — making reliability and permanence a priority for the individual.


Finally, your Urbit belongs to you in every possible way. You own it with a private key, control it completely, and can inspect its source code. We want your Urbit to be your digital home. A home you don’t own is just a hotel room.

Urbit began as a sketch, driven from a basic intuition that a better platform could be built. Today, Urbit is two components: Urbit ID, an identity system that’s already live on Ethereum; and Urbit OS, a decentralized network and OS stack that’s young but working well.

Over time we’ve quietly evolved Urbit into a carefully engineered, compact system. Urbit isn’t done — but it’s well on its way. The network has been live since 2013 and the interface is coming along nicely. You can own a piece of Urbit today if you can find an invite from a friend, or by buying an Urbit ID. We’re ready for people to begin homesteading this new territory we created with new communities and new software.

We think it’s possible to leave today’s technology behind and build something better. Something more humane, calm, and collectively owned. Our vision of the future isn’t one where technology intrudes in every corner of our lives. It’s one where technology is mostly invisible.