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Mozilla’s Send makes it easy to send a file from one person to another (theverge.com)
598 points by Tomte on Aug 3, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 318 comments



Remember why we were able to use Skype for this? Pepperidge farm remembers!

Joke aside I transfered a lot of files inside instant messengers and they worked quite well. Nearly everyone had at least a yahoo/messenger/skype/icq account, which made this rather simple, and, because nobody had the capacity/wasn't insterested/was actually p2p, it was perfectly fine. A bummer if the modem connection went down or you had to hang up because the family wanted to make a call, but hey, it was glorious. (no, this is not sarcasm, it really did work.)


I recently tried to send a file to a small group of friends on Facebook. After uploading, it rejected the file because it was a video with a copyrighted song playing in the background.


Messenger = MSN Messenger in this context, sorry if it was misleading.


Australians Remember


Censorship in action.


Next time I'll zip it :)


I'd suggest finding a service that doesn't examine and judge you at all times, but to each their own.


you probably need to add a password to the zip file or it will be scanned too.


"This file cannot be sent, since its content cannot be confirmed to be safe and virus-free". Maybe not today, but it's not an inconceivable next step...


You guys are acting like it's such a big deal to steno it into a word document by base26-ing it into sentences as initialisms using markov chains. Facebook sends my 14 megabyte word files no problem (to transfer a 700 kb wav file). I mean sure it was easier on me or my recipients when I could just dump the base64 in there. And when it started rejecting that, adding the markov chains as initialisms was no walk in the park, you have to let your recipient know how to get it back out again (basically a perl one-liner). But at least there's lots of Gutenberg ebooks to train on and really it's just not that big of a deal. Anyone can do it in an hour or two in pretty much any language, just follow tutorials. Then just tell your recipients what to do and they'll jump through whatever hoops you want. I mean how else am I going to send a 700 kilobyte wav file? FedEx a custom-pressed CD under my own label?

So really Facebook is pretty reasonable.


Why word documents instead of powerpoint slides?


I tried to send a zipped archive of some code on Google the other week (old project), it rejected it, so I zipped it again with a password, it still rejected it.

In the end I had to throw it up on the web with a strong password.

Not sure if they the prior attempt unpassworded set a flat for the subsequent attempt but Google though is almost superhuman when it comes to blocking malicious stuff I do wonder what the false positive rate is like.


It's a shit workaround but I have been adding the extension .txt onto the end then telling them to remove that


Perhaps because ZIP password do not encrypt header (file list?)

Format like 7z works well for this purpose as it has an option to encrypt header info.


You can also just rename a x.zip to x.piz (or any nonsense extension) and most services won't try to parse it as a zip.


I usually upload to Stack and send a link to the file there.


Does that really work? I thought files on slack where only visible to the team members.


Not Slack, Stack. It's a Dutch cloud storage platform by TransIP, one of the bigger hosting providers. 1TB for free.


You're kidding, but this is Google Mail today. I've pretty much given up on sending executables.


If you zip it and change the file extension, gmail will let it through. My friends and I occasionally send each other .googlesdumb files.


We send .renametozip files.


It will now also not allow sending .js files. Or zip files containing .js.

So much for emailing a draft of a web application to a colleague.

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6590?hl=en

To protect you against potential viruses and harmful software, Gmail doesn't allow you to attach certain types of files, including:

> Certain file types (listed below), including their compressed form (like .gz or .bz2 files) or when found within archives (like .zip or .tgz files)

> Documents with malicious macros

> Archives whose listed file content is password protected

> Password protected archives whose content is an archive

File types you can't include as attachments:

.ADE, .ADP, .BAT, .CHM, .CMD, .COM, .CPL, .EXE, .HTA, .INS, .ISP, .JAR, .JS (NEW), .JSE, .LIB, .LNK, .MDE, .MSC, .MSI, .MSP, .MST, .NSH .PIF, .SCR, .SCT, .SHB, .SYS, .VB, .VBE, .VBS, .VXD, .WSC, .WSF, .WSH


I wouldn't blame them because there is so much "easy" bad things people do except that all the ad networks apparently allow an advertiser to run whatever JavaScript they want in a third party website. I would be in their side if they disallowed JavaScript in ads.


Why are you emailing source code around in 2017 anyway?


Oh no, I've encountered this many times already. Sometimes, double-wrapping the archive satisfies a system that isn't recursively extracting archives. :/

Shall we try stenography next?


*steganography


Today I learned a new word from spellcheck. Stenography refers to taking notes or writing in shorthand form, not crypto.


Happened to me some years back during an interview :-/


Apple mail has this really cool feature that when you email someone a file that is too large, it uploads it to Icloud automatically and then sends that a person a downloadable link from Icloud that expires in 30 days


Thunderbird has/had this as well, you could even select a few providers, like Box and that Ubuntu cloud which is now deprecated. Probably a decent solution, but still needs a 3rd party server, which you didn't with the p2p im solutions.


I use it regularly and have self hosted webdav server for this reason. iirc, extension for custom server is required, but the functionality comes from Firefox.


I can't tell if you're being serious or not.


I don’t know what wouldn’t be serious about this. A number of mail clients do the same thing, and it’s useful.


Sure, until you go back two months later to re-download the documentation out of your email, and the link has expired.


Gmail does this as well, although I'm not sure about the expiration part


Gmail adds files to Google Drive - permanently.


Unless your gdrive is full.


And most people wouldn't even know that is happening in the background.


Until something break, because receiver is not in the Apple fold. And then it is the receivers fault for not walking in the grace of Jobs...


It doesn't matter if the receiver uses Apple products or not—so long as the sender has an iCloud account, it'll work. As far as the receiver cares, it's just a URL where the file is.


That’s a baseless complaint.


gmail does the same (to drive of course)


How large is too large?


I remember all the disconnects with ICQ file transfers. I think they added a recovery mechanism eventually.

Some friends even ran their own ftp (I think most people used War ftp) before ISPs started blocking ports.

Now it's all about uploading to "the cloud" or use sneakernet. My friend uses mega.nz, which seems decent for file sharing. I, personally, never underestimate the bandwidth of a sedan, driving down the highway with a single USB key.


Jokes aside you should double check if it is the correct usb key before a cross-country ride.


Unfortunately, we've deprecated that interview question.


You may have deprecated it; Amazon implemented it. Moving petabytes around is still a challenge.

https://aws.amazon.com/snowmobile/


And now you aren't able to use Skype for anything anymore :p


Skype somehow gets worse with every update. I have given up on it all together, now I just use appear.in instead. It doesn't require signing in and supports screen-sharing


I'm lucky I set up call forwarding to my google number a while ago. I can't even receive calls anymore! If the skype gods are smiling, one of my associated phones will randomly ring if somebody tries to contact me on skype (Google voice I think tries to ring all your phones in hopes that you'll pick up one of them, but in practice it can be somewhat random what actually connects).

Sometimes it doesn't though, and then I have no idea you tried to contact me, because skype is so broken that it /never/ rings when you call me.

This makes matters worse when my skype number is listed as the contact number on some contracts I've signed (their computer system was set up to only accept Japanese phone numbers).


At home I have an obi hai box connected to a cordless phone on my google voice account, it rings every time... but my cell doesn't always ring.


Don't know if you're serious or not, but I'm pretty sure M$ stores the files if you manage to send anything, which, with the linux "client" is a struggle for certain.


I remember using ICQ for this!

One thing I used to do when I wanted to send files to people outside of the context of a chat was just drop them in a directory on the web server that was running on my machine. Sharing files with folks in a private IRC channel was incredibly easy this way.


uho


Man I miss ICQ! Is it weird I still have my number memorized?



Miranda was awesome. Simple, light, native, and supported many protocols. I miss that kind of software on the desktop.


It will come back. When C++ becomes " retro cool", the current generation of JS rockstar ninjas will shout it from the rooftops: "I've reimplemented Atom in C++ and it's SO quick, man!"


I kind of doubt that. The current generation of JS rockstar ninjas does everything in their power to avoid learning a new language.


A simple, light, native desktop client for Skype, Slack, and many other protocols is being developed right now :)

https://eul.im


I can remember the number, but I've forgotten the password :-) I tried to get them to reset it a while back but it's tied to a long dead email address so I've no way to verify it's me and they won't help.


When I tried to reset my ICQ password they wanted me to message 5 friends and have them vouch for me, people with whom I haven't talked in 15 years.. otherwise they wouldn't unlock my account which is coincidentally, for some unapparent reason, in some sort of restricted mode where I can't send any messages. Support would not budge and unlock my account even after I provided ample proof.

Why is it more difficult to get back in to my 20 year old ICQ than it is to reset any other password I have, even "high security" sites like Bitcoin exchanges or Domain Name providers.


Same problem, and I had the password, but hadn't used it in forever... shame, 6-digit account iirc. But, realistically, haven't touched ICQ since around 2000 or so. I do wish a third party messenger not tied to a major social media chain could gain a hold again. Something that only acted as an exchange/email validation system... Actually, keybase could be a nice central verification tool for a distributed p2p client.


I can still login to mine.

I remember my brother's, can't remember his password, though.


+1, So... I'm not the only one :-)


I thought I had forgotten it, but I could just recall it again.


116233417


uho 5251730


IRC also allows you to send files by using DCC.


Complicated with NAT and IPv4/IPv6 mismatches.


Not sure why this is downvoted, DCC is direct connection which bypasses the server, p2p.


Likely because it needs a IRC server to set up the handshake, and the exposure of IP addresses. Never mind that DCC and NAT don't mix well.


P2P is impossible without exposure of your IP address, for hopefully obvious reasons.


No different than hitting a webserver. IRC networks cloak your IP address.

I agree about NAT, but that doesn't negate the fact that it was peer to peer that worked for over a decade.


Our tool lets you use the same P2P method for Remote Desktop access and link sharing (mblok.io). I saw a lot of these tools come up when WebRTC started out, however, they are limited by file size and are really unstable.


I posted this link in the other Mozilla thread a few days ago:

www.file.pizza

Let the p2p transfer commence


https://www.file.pizza does not connect

https://file.pizza/ does connect


I dread using Skype on my Windows 10 laptop. The application crashes half the time, logs me out for no reason, and takes a ridiculous amount of time to load up.

I haven't seen a app more ignored than Skype. This should have been what Whatsapp is today. But MS just killed it


They're probably putting all their energy into Skype for business (which is also a terrible product)


Best i can tell, this happened because shiny buzzwords and "ux" before feature retention.


Try Telegram, I use it like it was MSN Messenger back then <3


I think I'm going to have to settle for this or similar for non-phones (tablets, desktops). I kept looking for a simple messenging app (username, password... maybe email account) to avoid having to share my number, etc. The first thing Telegram did (like many others) was pull my contacts and display other users in my contacts (based on their number) that were also using telegram.

There just doesn't seem to be anything out there that's friendly, old-school messenging (except for complicated stuff that would be difficult for other users to get setup).


IM type apps seem to all go to shit after a while. Every one starts out good and then becomes feature encrusted bloated junk that barely works.


Most of them used to reliably support xmpp though, I miss being able to just run Pidgin (or Adium if on a Mac).


I miss that functionality too. It is stupid that direct transfer is more of a pain that it should be.


Wasn't microsofts version Groove become SkyDrive (now OneDrive)?


There is a whole market, managed file transfer, only focused on this. The industry is/was strongly oriented on integrating this offerings inside ubiquitous apps like Outlook. UX is the main issue.


Neat. It uses client-side crypto (AES-128-GCM) to secure the file; the key is in the fragment portion of the URL so it doesn't automatically hit the server (assuming you trust the server JS).

The protocol is a little bit strange, though. The file metadata is transmitted as an X-File-Metadata header on upload, and includes the SHA256 hash of the original (unencrypted) file (as the "aad" parameter to the X-File-Metadata upload parameter). This is a little concerning for privacy; while the filename is easy to disguise, hiding the SHA256 sum requires modifying the file in some way. Of course, this might only be a concern for uploading known files, but it's still a bit of an infoleak.

It's also strange in that the key isn't checked in any way (even for sanity) before initiating a download, so if you mess up and leave it off (or corrupt some bits), you won't find out until the end of the download that you can't get the file. Worse, the file will be deleted, forcing you to ask your sender for another copy.

The client-side crypto has one other downside: there doesn't seem to be a standard way in JavaScript to stream a POST request yet. You could emulate it with e.g. WebSockets, but those are a lot more heavyweight and CPU-intensive (for the server) than simple POST requests. So, the current implementation just encrypts the entire file as one giant block, and then uploads it - placing the whole file in memory. Hence the 1GB soft-limit. Downloads are similarly limited.

Luckily, non-browser clients can do whatever they like, so I wrote a Python client that's compatible with the server, but uses streaming POST and on-the-fly en/decryption to save memory. Check it out at https://github.com/nneonneo/ffsend - feedback welcome!


> This is a little concerning for privacy; while the filename is easy to disguise, hiding the SHA256 sum requires modifying the file in some way. Of course, this might only be a concern for uploading known files, but it's still a bit of an infoleak.

Does it matter? The file is behind a URL with a random id (and the hash expires from redis after a day). Even if someone guessed your id within a day, they know essentially nothing about your file or you. And if they had your URL, they could download the file anyway, making it moot.

> Hence the 1GB soft-limit.

Mozilla stores the files on S3. That needs a reasonable limit.


Mozilla, on the other hand, knows your SHA-256 and your IP. So if you're uploading some known offensive file, the logs could be subpoenaed, etc. etc. Normally it's just preferable to have the service provider know as little as possible.


It is kind of surreal that it is 2017 and we're still trying to solve such a basic computing problem.


I don't think it's a computing problem as much as it is a UI problem.

We can send the shit out of some files... if you know what you're doing (browsers retrieve tons of files all the time, for example).

It's difficult creating a service that is accessible to people who barely understand what a file is in the first place.


IMO the main problem is the mainstream use of NATs and the fact that most people don't run their computers 24/7. The internet became the internat.

If all computers were publicly reachable it would be trivial to send files peer-to-peer.

I guess IPFS can be an interesting solution to this problem.


With the advent of smartphones, most people are running a computer 24/7. But that computer is still either behind a NAT or on a connection where data is precious.

NAT punching is a thing, but it makes the implementation of p2p a lot more complicated.


UPnP was supposed to help with this as well before it became a security disaster. There's also stuff like https://github.com/danoctavian/bluntly/blob/master/README.md to do NAT holepunching without a central server (using DHT) but again adoption and the actual ergonomics of usage (npm, the config file, key distribution etc make it fail the "could my grandma use it" test) are not easy enough to make it easy enough for the un-devops'd masses.


Some crypto currency based on file backup (say, Sia or Diskcoin) could completely solve this problem since you could just drop a magnet link to some encrypted files to your friend and your file stays accessible for as long as your funds cover it.


Pretty much.

The world got paranoid, as any exposed port to the raw net is seen as an invite to worms.


NAT and port blocking are orthogonal, getting one with the other is mostly a coincidence.


> If all computers were publicly reachable it would be trivial to send files peer-to-peer.

WebRTC exists today, and it's quite good. It's not a technology problem, it's a matter of practicality. Mobile devices being reachable over the network 24/7 is just not realistic (connectivity falls off, battery considerations, etc.). I don't want my phone to heat up and come to a crawl because the video I just shared is being downloaded by three friends over LTE while I ride the train.


I think it is more an IPv4 problem -- everyone is fire-walled and NAT'd up the wazoo and direct connection require some UDP + voodoo (or at least it did last time I investigated this).


a UI problem and a legal problem. It's difficult to create a service that is accessible to people who barely understand what a file is, and won't be taken over by pirates and then shut down by law enforcement.

The fact that files can only be downloaded once from this new service isn't just a coincidence.


I agree that it's a sort of UI problem. I could be sharing a desktop with a customer with Teamviewer (which maybe has file sharing, and it's telling I'm unsure about it) and at the same time talking with him on Skype, which for voice is still good (it's bad for everything else - text, files, screen sharing - video calls are of very limited use.) But I can't easily send a file to the other guy.

Unfortunately AFAIK there has been no successful open point to point file transfer protocol that different OSes could implement and be interoperable over the Internet. Going to https://send.firefox.com/ and drop a file there is not an improvement. It's still centralized. Is there any solution to the problem of discovering the address of the sender and the recipient without a central server? I would think it's an impossible problem but there are clever people out there. Maybe mesh networks?


You can send files (and retrieve them) with Teamviewer, but it's unbearably slow most of the time.


I'd venture to guess it's more of a copyright and monetization problem than a UI problem.


Indeed, I remember when a "pair of netcats" was the preferred file transfer solution, and even for IM "meetings". Almost no one knows what I'm talking about if I mention it to most people now, even those otherwise experienced in computer use and/or are developers themselves.


On a similar token, there still isn't any good attempt at a user-friendly E2E-encrypted email solution that integrates with what people already use (minus a few PGP-based browser extensions which don't have much adoption yet).


old chat programs e.g. Trillion did this just fine.


If we still paid for software like we did 15 years ago, we'd probably have a perfect solution by now. Instead we have a bunch of "free" options that all want to harvest our data.


15 years ago? More like 25. The "free" mantra is basically as old as mass-adoption of the web.

But yeah, some sort of ubiquitous fat client, possibly even integrated in the OS, would probably have appeared, and it would cost $50.


Hey. To be fair, they also show you ads. Gotta make money to run the service.


Email attachments are the lowest common denominator despite the 25MB cap, occasional diversion into a spam folder, no sender authentication, no encryption, poor suitability of email clients and servers for bulk file transfers, etc. Whatever can hope to replace it must be as popular (network effect), as easy to use, and free. Sharing very large files (hundreds of MB to multi-GB) is too costly for a free service. People will not setup or maintain a server, an always on PC is less reliable and has a slower uplink than data centers, and smartphones have limited data quotas, storage and batteries. Slow IPv6 deployment, middleboxes (firewalls, home CPEs) makes efficient p2p connections difficult.

If it's free there's little incentive for a company to spend the money developing the easy UI and marketing it to critical mass. Even simple to use Dropbox has not made a significant dent. BitTorrent never became mainstream at the level of email but it did incentivize people to seed with the prospect of pirated content. The MPAA/RIAA have deputized any websites that accepts user content as copyright police and demonize non-enterprise file hosting services.

In a way the success of Facebook is a reflection of the spammy, phishing/malware filled, and slow nature of email and difficulty making your own website; if email continued to improve there wouldn't be demand for a modern solution. File syncing and sharing should be integrated into the operating system. However Microsoft's OneDrive and Apple's iCloud are inferior to Dropbox so a third party solution is still relevant.


AirDrop is great for this, if you're working in small groups. It's one of the few things that Apple makes that still "just works."

Unfortunately, it only works in small groups. If you're in a large office, or need to send something to someone outside the building, you're SOL.


> AirDrop [...] "just works"

Well, not all the time. Never works at my parents, for example. Works in my flat about 80% of the time (although iOS 11 + High Sierra seem to be improving that ratio slightly). Never worked at $JOB-2. Doesn't work if you want to send to a non-Apple device. etc. Maybe Apple will spin up something out of the DeskConnect ashes for these cases.

When it does work, mind, it is bloody magical.


I've never had an Airdrop problem that couldn't be solved by moving the devices closer together. But like so much in computing, YMMV.


I am currently enjoying* the irony that Airdrop works better between my phone (currently on the work guest wifi network) and the work laptop (wifi turned off, ethernet on work corporate network) than in my flat (where everything is on the same wifi + network).


We can send files all day long between computers. It's the political layer that's unsolved: privacy, identity, trust, and authorization.


For buisness file sharing it has been solved dozens of times. The problem is that the solution tends to turn file sharing into a managment problem. You end up with file structures, naming conventions, permissions. Yuck! It is vital to have a way of sharing large files that just requires a social interaction between two people and always just works.


Entreprise ans consumer solutions are necessarily different because of the legal environment. You don't want random employees sending arbitrary files to each other with no auditing, security, organization, etc.


I get where you are coming from. But a lot of employees have the authority to decide this kind of thing for themselves. Making them subject to technical restrictions can make it harder to make progress on projects. It's like telling people not to give each other pieces of paper or talk outside of official channels. That might make sense at Nasa mission control (for example), but it does not where I work.


BTSync and SyncThing are also in this space. They do work, and BTSync is even somewhat usable by less-technical people.


Although you do have to make sure you upgrade all your SyncThing clients in lockstep - which is a faff when you've got a mix of OSs to deal with - otherwise you'll get protocol mismatches and nothing works right.


Thanks thats useful to know. I am using it in a fairly restrictive corporate environment where the Github download links are blocked. Makes updating a difficulty.


Nobody has figured out how to make any money off of it.


A bunch of people have made decent money off it, they just tend to be shut down for making money off copyright violations.


Computing used to evolve despite this concern...


Kim DotCom and his giant mansion and fancy cars disagree with you


WeTransfer works great for me.


Perhaps. Unusable on anything that's not Chrome, dark ad patterns galore, and if you let the link expire, it's game over. As for me, I would use the words "almost bearable."


Hahaha!


This is a bummer; using Safari:

Your browser is not supported. Unfortunately this browser does not support the web technology that powers Firefox Send. You’ll need to try another browser. We recommend Firefox!

It would be nice to know what web tech they are using that isn't supported. Whatever it is, Chrome works.

EDIT: It requires support for the AES-GCM key type, with a size of 128.


From user eridius a couple days ago: "It's checking for window.crypto.subtle. Looks like Safari TP supports this. I believe the problem with Safari 10 is that it implemented an older version of the web cryptography standard." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14904307


Well, it looks like Safari (and edge) do support it, but not the AES-GCM key type.

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/SubtleCrypt...

I'll leave it up to someone wiser than me to indicate if this is the proper choice. AES-GCM key type with a length of 128.


AES-GCM is great tbh. Authenticated encryption built into one.


Safari 10 supports an older version of Web Cryptography. 2 weeks ago on the WebKit Blog there was a post about the current state of Web Cryptography and the differences between the older version (that Safari 10 supports) and the new version (that Safari Technical Preview supports). And it says that the older Web Cryptography only supported AES-CBC but the new one supports AES-GCM.

https://webkit.org/blog/7790/update-on-web-cryptography/



On the earlier thread, it was determined that Safari uses a slightly older version of WebCrypto.

Mozilla Send works in Safari Tech Preview.


Using Edge I don't even get a "not supported" message. I just get hit with "something went wrong!" when both uploading or downloading.


We're seeing the Edge error too, though it wasn't there in earlier QA, so it's a bit mysterious. Hopeful that we'll have some remediation soon.

Source: I work on Test Pilot


Strangely it seems to work on iOS Safari, but that’s a bummer because I also use (macOS) Safari :(

[edit] Works in TP, lucky me.


Otherwise technically illiterate people used to be able to do this with AIM direct connect over 15 years ago. It still blows my mind that AOL had a near monopoly in this space, and lost it by continually making the user experience worse.


Aim was a potential multibillion dollar business that AOL just threw away. It was facebook before facebook existed.


How would they have earned those billions of dollars?


Same way FB does now.

The idea of FB status updates (and Twitter) literally came from the status line you could set in AIM.


The same way Facebook did. All they had to do was persist away messages and they had a social network.


AOL never liked or wanted AIM, and while "sabotaged it on purpose" might be too strong, it's not far off. http://mashable.com/2014/04/15/aim-history/


>and lost it by continually making the user experience worse.

That does seem to happen more often than makes sense for many software/industrial/government organizations, doesn't it?


It's people's relentless need to change things, and it's a trait that has ruined tech.


I've often wondered if that is a side-effect of people needing to "prove their usefulness" in order to keep a job.


Rent-seeking seems to be on a strong upwards trend


I worked at AOL for a year. They have a way of taking a great idea/product and completely destroying it with idiotic features that nobody wants (but some exec thinks would be cool). It's probably catalyzed by their unfathomably stupid "matrix management" structure which optimizes for management bloat, confusion, and mediocrity.


Can you explain more about matrix management?


Sorry, I missed your comment. If you've seen Office Space, comically it's kind of like that. I had four different direct bosses, each who were supposed to manage different aspects of what I did. What ended up happening most of the time was I had a "real" boss who would direct myself and a few other developers, and then we'd have random drop-ins of managers who had no clue what was going on and trying to change things to meet some ridiculous quota they had.

Really the whole thing is set up to limit manager accountability (since managers can just point the finger at each other when something goes wrong) and increase worker frustration...it's not uncommon for two managers to tell you to do two different things.


Could also send files over MSN Messenger


I always wonder how Opera Unite (in 12.x) versions would have fared had it gained traction. The sender had absolute control over what files were shared and how long they could be without needing to rely on a 3rd party to host content or setting up a complex service on localhost. Opera did kill it off the Unite service even before they migrated to Webkit/Blink, but it is something I remember fondly.


That sounds amazing. I really hope we see this in another browser some day.

I wrote the original TCPSocket implementation for Firefox OS. As I was doing it I imagined an architecture like what you described. I know at least some prototype apps which worked in a similar way were developed.


I really hope Mozilla decides to expand on this.

One issue with the experiment is it has such a narrow use case. Disappearing after one download / 24hrs makes sending a file to multiple people--or just one person who drags their feet on the DL-- makes it really inconvenient to use. Even offering "1 download -OR- 24hrs" would make it far more useful.


But at that point it's just a file hosting platform. Why not use a public Drive/Dropbox/OwnCloud/Mega/S3 link?


Client-side encryption. Mega works, may use some questionable cryptography, but the rest of your solutions don't offer that at all.


I get that, it's just a pain to upload the same file multiple times to send it to more than one person :/


They're trying to avoid running the next Mega. It also posts the unencrypted hash of the file you uploaded to their server so that they can do DMCA takedowns.

There are other existing solutions like https://share.riseup.net which do not do things like this too and which do allow multiple downloads.


So anything you send needs zipping up with a "salt" file first in order to bypass the hash check? Is there an add-on to do that for me yet?

Do they communicate that sending any known file is non-private?

If I email myself a pop-song, does the client automatically start the extradition proceedings for the RIAA; or does that come later? /s


If you're savy enough to do that, then you are also competent enough to send the file in numerous other ways. Your not the target audience.

Also, you wouldn't need add a file. Zipping it alone would be enough to change the hash.


I assumed zipping to be determinative and that a standard gzip would lead to a "known" hash, ergo the idea to create a unknown zip file by adding some bytes.


It would be determinative only if all the header fields[1] stayed identical. A change in something like file name or mod time, would change the hash of the zipped archive without affecting the hash of the actual file.

I don't think you can expect the file mod time to be identical, as it isn't preserved through many forms of file distribution.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zip_(file_format)#File_headers


>It also posts the unencrypted hash of the file you uploaded to their server so that they can do DMCA takedowns

Why would they do that? It's not like anyone can send them DMCA notices: the act of verifying that the upload violates your copyright already removes the file from the service. And I don't see anything in the DMCA that requires them to search for offenders, they just have to act once they become aware?


> And I don't see anything in the DMCA that requires them to search for offenders, they just have to act once they become aware?

The Megaupload case sadly is a good example of what no one wants to repeat, as there this was exactly argued - that, once notified, the hoster has to ensure this file won't ever be uploaded again, and all other copies are removed, too.


Don't ask me, it seems ridiculous to me.


Hmm... it seems like most of the time when I want to transfer a large file to someone (or to another one of my own devices), I just want to do it immediately and only once, so there's no need to upload it to a third, temporary location.

Unfortunately it seems like most of the time a physical USB flash drive is the most efficient way to accomplish this. Seems absurd to me that in 2017 there's not a common, user-friendly way to just establish a direct connection between two web browsers and directly push files through.


> between two web browsers

They were never inteded to be active senders or p2p workers. I know, we've come a long way in the past 2 decades, but I never expected this to be the job of the browser. I'm also aware of webRTC and I'm a bit uncertain why that can't be used to send/receive files.


There are a bunch of WebRTC file transfer web apps but they unfortunately all suffer from the legacy cruft that WebRTC brought along. The only data channels are UDP and things like STUN / TURN / ICE are needed to have any hope of breaking through NAT, often with disappointing results.


Ya, for Dat[1], we had a WebRTC implementation and it was unreliable compared to our other clients. We are hoping other in browser p2p options get developed, e.g. https://github.com/noffle/web-udp.

[1] https://datproject.org


> Hmm... it seems like most of the time when I want to transfer a large file to someone (or to another one of my own devices), I just want to do it immediately and only once, so there's no need to upload it to a third, temporary location.

When it works, AirDrop between Apple devices seems like it does exactly what you describe. Of course, this assumes that the two devices can see each other via Bluetooth and I'm pretty sure the thing is partly mediated by iCloud.

I'm not sure if there's an equivalent in the Windows world.

> ...establish a direct connection between two web browsers and directly push files through

Is this really a web browser's job? Why does it feel like the default answer to every "Why can't I do X easily?" question is to make the browser do it?

I used to transfer stuff between different Windows machines (on the same network) by simply going Start, Run, \\OtherComputerName and authenticating. Regular users, like my parents, would just go to Network Neighbourhood and find the computer in question. It was pretty easy and all built in to the OS.


Shameless plug: I created an "airdrop" that works on all major platforms. Device directly to device. No servers. No "cloud". Local file transfers only. http://feem.io


Lots of sites where you can drop a file in, get a link, and transfer P2P: https://www.justbeamit.com/

Somehow just not in the mainstream, integrating into browser should increase some awareness.


If you're in the same physical space / layer 2 network, many things are Simple and Easy (and Efficient, indeed). For sending to people that are 100 ms out there, not so much.


OS X had it for a long time now.


A really needed service, but I doubt it will last for long, because it's far from the core business and because it will potentially cost more than Mozilla is willing to dedicate.


WeTransfer has been around a long time and is exactly the same.


I did a quick scan of the article but is there any difference with wetranfser? The only things I found is encryption and it is 1gb less. But since Wetransfer is a dutch company they are not allowed by law to look in those files you send if I am correct.


i think wetransfer doesn't automatically delete files within 24 hours or one download

this Mozilla service seem really useless over tons of others like mega.nz, is it really that big deal to delete file manually?


WeTransfer does auto delete after 7 days I believe and on the plus plan you can do things like password protect links.


I really don't get why people are criticizing and saying that there are better alternatives to this. Of course there is. This was not built to be the best way to send files, just to be the most practical one. Some people don't even know there is life outside of Facebook, they will never know about alternatives to send a file they could not send using email or messager. And this shows that Mozilla is starting building services layers on Firefox.


From the repo, it appears that it depends on S3.

It would be nice to be able to self-host this on a small home server for friends and family. That way, even if they shut down their server, you could still share files with your friends.


The code's on github, so you could definitely just stand up your own copy: https://github.com/mozilla/send


You could run S3-compatible systems such as Minio or Ceph.


Every Synology NAS has sharing features built-in, and the software is pretty nice on both web and mobile.


What is wrong with having an http file host on your local pc? Anyone can browse an http address, and you can get a subdomain for free. Get a free https cert from letsencrypt and possibly put http user accounts / passwords on it to restrict access.


They have these Test Pilot things specifically to gather feedback, so the best place to have this heard, is by putting it into the feedback-form.


A better approach in 2017 is something like File Pizza: https://file.pizza/

This uses WebRTC to transfer files peer-to-peer.


The problem with all these P2P approaches is that they work sometimes, or barely. Aforementioned file.pizza can't even send me a file between my laptop and desktop, both being behind the same NAT.

EDIT: Well what do I know, it worked today, but hasn't a few weeks ago when I first heard of it. The transfer speed however makes it seem like it's actually pushing it through the entire internet, it's flying at about 500kB/s.


YES, this is what I was hoping send was, another implementation of webrtc p2p file sharing.

Unfortunately it is not.

My only issue with filepizza is, I wanted to host one internally, but it has a hard dependency on a hardcoded list of torrent trackers. (I have a DENY ALL firewall rule at the border which can't be touched) :(


FilePizza creator here! I hear you—the dependency on the broadcast servers has been giving me issues. I'm planning on going back to a home-grown file transfer method over simple WebRTC, rather than using WebTorrent. Hopefully will get a fix out in the next couple days.


There are other things with a similar concept. The core JS behind this is a couple hundred lines at the worst.


ideas on where to look?

I really prefer p2p if available, and on my LAN it doesn't have to traverse NAT or anything.


https://www.sharedrop.io/

https://sharefest.me/

Or just start poking through their code and WebRTC docs/libs to see what you can build yourself.


Check out Dat: https://datproject.org/install.

We do NAT traversal but also connect to local peers over multicast DNS. Command line client should have a local or offline option to restrict only to local peers soon.


Where's the code?


http://github.com/datproject. It is pretty modular so if you need help finding something hop in our chat: http://chat.datproject.org.

=)


Thanks!



Do you know where the source is?


I now need an app that does this (so it can act as a file sink, ex. when you press "share" on your phone).


"Better" is incorrect and presumptive. I'm frequently bound by idiotic networks that prohibit P2P in every possible form they can obstruct, including (through no fault of its own) WebRTC.


Nice, but impractical, since now I have to keep the browser open.

Most of the time, I want to send a link by email, and let the receiver choose when they want to download the file.


Effectively turning an asynchronous conversation (e.g. email) into a synchronous one (e.g. phone call).


WebSocket connection to 'wss://file.pizza/' failed: WebSocket is closed before the connection is established.


I find "burn after reading" downloads for a number of reasons, but generally, they often don't work as intended.

For example, modern email services (Google, MS, etc.) accessing links in emails and download the content and check it for malware. They probably mitigated this but its caveats like this that cause messages to be burned before the intended reading.


True! Also like one commenter said on the original article, if I have to share a file with 3 users, I will have to upload it 3 times and also there's the case of failed downloads.

Not sure if this is viable.


Why are jumping from imagining a specific use case (1:N file share) failing (with little evidence that the product doesn't/can never recover from failures seamlessly) to calling into question the entire product?

Give the product a chance, imho.


According to yesterday's discussion they do have problems with handling failed downloads, they might want to fix that.

But if they would handle 1:N file sharing, they would risk being attractive to a lot of users they don't want (mostly those distributing in a copyright-infringing way)


If you were sending a 3 file to 3 people, just use WeTransfer


Since downloading the file has side effects, I assume Mozilla would require the user to push a button that initiates a POST request. And I don't think any modern email service would initiate a POST request, because that would be a massive vulnerability in that service.


The URL shared to the recipient is /download/, but the actual one-time trigger is bound to /assets/download/.


How is Mozilla going to keep this viable? Since they're using S3, it likely costs them roughly $.08/GB moved between users in bandwidth costs plus whatever fraction of a month the file is left there of the $.025 GB/month storage costs.


Personally, I don't think that they'll keep it. It is specifically in the Test Pilot program which is for trying out and seeing the response for things, even if they are not necessarily realistically going to be put into the browser.


But if there were no plans to expand it if successful, what would be the point of the experiment in the first place?


Perhaps to asses its value to users, before building the production version? S3 is a quick and simple solution.


I would expect they move to some other provider if they keep this running, considering AWS is among the most expensive solutions in terms of bandwith costs.


the file is deleted after one download or 24h, which limits the damage. Of course it's also open source so you can host your own- which I think quite a number of people will do.


Perhaps NSA is paying for it?


They need to make the url human memorable. Something like /files/what/a/nice/day. This seems to be aimed more for sending over emails.


Nobody (for most values of "nobody") communicates downloads urls over the phone. So, yes, this is for sharing over emails, chat, etc.

The url is not memorable on purpose: it's a uuid so people can't just guess it and access other's file.


It need not be communicated over the phone. Say you want to move a file from desktop to your mobile. Or transfer quickly from your iOS phone to your friends Android one. This will help in those cases but is limited by the randomly generated url which you will have to pain stackingly type. I don't see how a sufficiently long randomly generated string with memorable words (/jack/never/securely/farted/sky/fall/what/ever) is less secure than randomly generated token like this.


Why will you have to type the URL? You just send the URL to the person over any communication medium. For your own devices, you even have apps that provide shared clipboard so you just copy on first device and paste on another.


Not OP, but I've occaisionally found that it's very hard to send messages between my own machines, because most platforms are based on users - not machines.

I can message my wife from my phone to her phone, but I can't message myself from my phone to my PC. At least, with most messaging programs.


One of the advantages of telegram: it's trivial to message yourself. Really handy for sharing links or just as a notepad


I believe the link needs to contain the decryption key.


Which can be encoded as a string of words from a wordlist instead of a hex encoding.


It's a nice idea, though I'd really like to just run one myself (inside the firewall), seems like that would be safer, at least in the eyes of users.



Surely this is going to be incredibly expensive in the long-run for Mozilla? I can't quite get what their play is with this service.


I suspect they have plans to make this into some form of browser feature, if it's successful and they make good experiences. It is a task people normally use websites for, and in the past that was enough justification for Mozilla to turn something into a browser feature.


Helping end users?


This will also be solved by IPFS, [1].

[1] https://ipfs.io/


How is expiration of files achieved with IPFS? I thought files stored on IPFS were available forever.

If my impression was correct, then Firefox Send supports different use cases than IPFS.


My personal preference are browser agnostic methods[1] and giving the sender the choice to use whatever method of encryption they wish. I prefer the simplicity of 7-zip / p7zip, but others may prefer PGP.

[1] https://tinyvpn.org/


I use https://transfer.sh/ for this kind of ephemeral file transfer. They have drag/drop through website, integration with ShareX, and even an alias that you can add to your shell.



`brew install magic-wormhole`


You are assuming that everyone on HackerNews has a Mac.

Here is a link with installation instructions for every major platform.

https://github.com/warner/magic-wormhole


Does anybody remember IRC's DCC send?


DCC Send is an excellent solution (although quite crappy UX until you get used to it). It does, however, suffer from a couple of limitations which make it inviable in 2017.

1) It can't traverse NAT, you have to forward the ports on your router- which is quite frustrating.

2) It can't use ipv6, which would have eliminated the first problem, but unfortunately without ipv6 it can't do that.

Unless of course you have a dedicated IPv4 for your DCC sender and receiver, but I think that is improbable.


I do! And it mostly worked. And was quite good for transfers, no matter how mall or big the file was.


Can this link be changed away from clickbait Verge? Perhaps https://github.com/mozilla/send


In what way is this article "clickbait"?


Blogspam would be a more accurate term.


Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/949/


Yesterday I wanted to quickly send over some large files from my debian server to an ancient windows one on my home network. The server is running on ZFS, so in theory, install samba, set usershares on, zfs set smbshare=on rpool/x.

I ended up copying over on an SD card after ~1 hour of fighting with smb version compatibility, smb vs linux permissions, workgroup mismatches due to localised windows.


I find HTTP generally much more reliable. Normally I use woof (just run "woof <file>" to start an HTTP server serving that file), but I'd like to find something better, since it doesn't handle multiple connections well.

woof also supports uploads (shows a basic uploading page), which is nice when you want to transfer to a server.

http://www.home.unix-ag.org/simon/woof.html (but it's packaged in Debian)


I do this all the time too. I use Twisted wherever twistd is installed by default:

  twistd -n web -p 8000 --path ./path/
I've also used the npm package http-server when node is more convenient:

  npm install -g http-server && http-server -p 8000 ./path/


  python -m http.server


Thanks for the suggestions!


I like magic-wormhole for this:

https://github.com/warner/magic-wormhole


Ha, I ssh-ed a box and wanted to download a file ... several stackexchange threads later and I ignored ssh/rcp and other suggestions and just used the fish: protocol in dolphin (on KDE) and drag-dropped the file. I'm sure it took way longer than it should but the other methods seemed way more complex, I was expecting a ftp-like copy command to be available.


Hmm, scp is pretty easy to use. If you can ssh to a host, it should work.


Nowadays, the chat apps are quite impressive too https://telegram.org/blog/files-on-steroids


I came looking to see who got to this first.


Also probably relevant: https://xkcd.com/927/


http://xkcd949.com/ popped up around that time


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