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Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB) is a peer-to-peer append-only messaging system on top of which a variety networking applications can be built such as the Patchwork social network. Scuttlebutt is able to operate offline and then sync when in the presence of another peer making it perfect for meshing environments, and even supports synchronisation via removable media to work as a "sneakernet". The word "scuttlebutt" is the equivalent of "watercooler" in an office, but applies to boats and ships.

Quote.pngScuttlebutt, aims to provide a platform that is wholly modular, increasingly secure, and brilliantly inspired in order to tackle some of the roots of these problems and make the internet truly ungovernable.
Emmi Bevensee


Pubs are permenantly connected peers in the Scuttlebutt network with the job of routing messages and storing them while recipients are offline. The name "pub" was used since they play a similar role to pubs in villages. Once you have scuttlebot running (see next section) you can configure it to be a pub simply by creating invites to it. see how to set up a pub for more detail.

A list of some of the pubs can be found here, and I set up to learn more about the process :-)


The easiest way to use scuttlebut is by running an end-user application like Patchwork which will come pre-packaged with the necessary dependencies. But to run it on a server you need to install the scuttlebot (sbot) service.

If you want safely to run it on an exiting server and avoid version conflicts or other dependency issues, you can use the Docker image as described here. The default port that the pub will run on is 8008. To run it natively you can install the latest version of nodejs or use an existing version if you have one.

cd ~
sudo apt-get install autotools-dev automake
git clone
cd scuttlebot
npm i
sudo ln -s ~/scuttlebot/bin.js /usr/bin/sbot
sbot server &
sbot whoami

sbot commands

If you're running the Docker image, you can't call the 'sbot daemon directly, you call it as follows instead:

docker run -it --rm -v /home/USER/ssb-pub-data/:/home/node/.ssb/ -e ssb_host="YOUR-DOMAIN" ahdinosaur/ssb-pub

or you could add an sbot script to call the Docker image with the passed arguments, e.g.

docker run -it --rm -v /home/USER/ssb-pub-data/:/home/node/.ssb/ -e ssb_host="YOUR-DOMAIN" ahdinosaur/ssb-pub $*

Find the pubs Scuttlebutt ID:

sbot whoami

Create an invitation to your pub (the number is how many times it can be used):

sbot invite.create 1

Note: To allow a web page to get invitations when sbot is in a Docker container, the page mustn't have the -it (interactive terminal) part in the command.

Give your pub a name:

sbot publish --type about --about @2mIg...5519 --name

See more on updating profiles such as adding an image here, note that you can also add a --description field.


sbot publish --type post --text "This is a test!"


Scuttlebot is extendable via a plugins model. Plugins are managed using the plugins commands in a running scuttlebot, e.g. to add the capability to send private encrypted messages, use the following:

sbot plugins.install ssb-private


To access the full functionality of sbot, commands need to be called from JavaScript. This is simply a matter of requiring the ssb-client, for example to send a private message (which can't be done from the command-line) you can use the following basic script which resides in the scuttlebot directory:

#!/usr/bin/env node
var ssbClient = require('ssb-client')

// Creates a client at localhost:8080, using key found at ~/.ssb/secret
ssbClient(function (err, sbot) {
	if (err) throw err

	// publish a private message to me
	sbot.private.publish({ type: 'post', text: 'My First Private Post!' }, ['@WeZBYERzjvfOVlgU7vMz7RSheqe4WaGEd87ewbMvnvQ=.ed25519'], function (err, msg) {

	// Stop the client

sbot troubleshooting

Node user: The Docker container seems to require some hard-wired paths involving the "node" UNIX account. I installed it in my own home directory as myself, and things kept failing due to missing files in /home/node, so I just made a symlink from /home/node to my own user dir and then things worked.

Calling sbot from web pages: Again this only affects Docker users, the recommended command to call sbot shown in the installation guide uses the -it (interactive terminal and TTY) options, but these will only work when you are running it from a shell and need to be removed if calling it from a web page (or a background task or something).

Differences between Scuttlebutt and...


Retroshare has the features all inclusive in the application, requires explicit key sharing between people in order to exchange data, does not use rumor message passing, and does not use pubs as an on-ramp (or slip road) to the network. This was a few years ago, but the process of creating and sharing your key with another person in order to share things with them was far more difficult than using SSB. Also according to the outdated wiki, Retroshare does not support IPv6.

See also