Roadmap: OS 1 -> OS N
Today, we call Urbit an ‘OS 0’. It’s an evolving open source project with a live network. In 2020, we’re planning to ship OS 1 — the first minimal but complete release of Urbit.
As we discussed in the last post, we see Urbit’s primary advantage as bringing together groups to share a set of modules for communication and collaboration. As Urbit matures, the set of available modules grows and expands, and the system both stabilizes and becomes more secure.
Let’s walk through the sequence of milestones we have planned for 2020 and 2021.
OS 0 — 2019
Today, Urbit OS is an evolving prototype. Brave explorers, open-minded systems software nerds and those who want the future to arrive as fast as possible should install Urbit, check it out, and potentially enroll in Hoon School.
Urbit has evolved a lot during OS 0. We deployed the Urbit ID system to Ethereum and made huge strides toward the stability of Urbit OS (detailed here). OS 0 has been all about refining our interface goals and making sure our system works as well as possible.
Urbit is a community project, and the community hangs out on OS 0 to communicate and coordinate about developing the system. Come join us if you’d like to help, or just want to follow along as the system progresses.
OS 1 — Q1 2020
OS 1 is the first minimal but complete release of Urbit. We think of it as the Nokia 3310 of cloud computers.
OS 1 is a simple system to publish notes, chat and share links with groups of friends all in one place. OS 1 is stripped down, but open for anyone to extend and build on top of. It’s easy to onboard a group of friends into OS 1 via email and there will be hosting available to select groups.
OS 1 is aimed first and foremost at communities looking to homestead a new platform they can truly make their own. We’ve been using Urbit ourselves over the years, and OS 1 is what we’ve been looking forward to using for our own daily communication and collaboration.
While we’re excited about what OS 1 is, there are also plenty of gaps. For example, OS 1 doesn’t have an exceptional notification system, it still lives in a browser, and it lacks great tooling for distributing new modules. While we aren’t inventing any new cryptography, Urbit also hasn’t been audited, so we aren’t calling it secure just yet.
If OS 0 is for explorers, OS 1 is for tinkerers. More like car camping than backpacking.
Tlon is also planning to provide free hosting to a limited number of groups who want to homestead the system. (Although you can always host Urbit yourself, of course.) If you’re interested in trying OS 1 with your group of friends, let us know.
OS 2 is where Urbit gets easier for a broader audience to try out.
OS 2 — Q2 2020
OS 2 is an approachable, expanded and easier to use OS 1. We think of OS 2 as the iOS 1 of cloud computers — no matter how silly that sounds.
Like OS 1, OS 2 let’s a group of people chat, publish blogs and short messages, and share links. The main difference is that OS 2 is a standalone app (rather than the browser tab of OS 1) and supports Urbit-to-Urbit payments in BTC and ETH. OS 2 is the calm, private computing environment we’ve been waiting for.
OS 2 is for those eager to leave behind MEGACORP platforms and build new, intentionally architected communities. If OS 1 is car camping, OS 2 is a geodesic dome on the playa. Not exactly a permanent home, but a good start.
While OS 2 is a big improvement, it’s still not audited to be secure. Turning that corner happens with OS 3.
OS 3 — 2021
Over the course of 2020 Urbit OS will be audited to ensure it’s completely secure. Real security, along with big improvements to our hosting infrastructure, will make OS 3 the first Urbit OS for serious work and very broad consumption.
OS 3 makes it possible to customize a permanent, secure space for your friends, company or collaborators. With OS 3, Urbit is no longer just experimental; it’s ready for real work.
OS 3 means you can use Urbit in earnest for everyday work. Payments, contracts, managing your entire crypto portfolio, and connecting to critical IoT devices are all possible. The range of features you can create with a truly secure personal server are really exciting to imagine.
OS 3 means you can safely commit personal data to your Urbit with absolute peace of mind. Modules for location tracking, biometric and health data can be used without worrying about leaking bits.
OS 3 is ready for a small law firm, or an extended family, or the crypto syndicate you’ve been thinking of starting. Or, why not, go ahead and use OS 3 to launch that digital country you’ve been meaning to start.
Where will Urbit be in 2022 or 2023? We can’t be sure exactly. We do have our eyes set on 2030 — when Urbit should be the primary platform for people to communicate and collaborate. We think our next steps are clear and we’re on the right path.
By this point you might be wondering, who built this thing? Where did it come from? That’s next.