If you have read our article introducing the Dark Web and I2P, and are champing on the bit to explore this exciting new world, then you may have headed straight over to the official IP2 website. Unfortunately, you may also have been in for a bit of a shock, as the website is very techie-orientated, and in our view does not do a good job of explaining in simple newbie-friendly terms how you actually connect to the I2P network.
This, then, is a fairly brief guide to get you up and running with the I2P Darknet in Windows (since that is the system we run). If security is a top priority for you, then you should not use Windows (or OSX), instead opting for a Linux distro (and preferably a security orientated one such as Tails or Liberté Linux at that). Even better, use Ipredia OS, a Linux distro based on I2P, with websites and services only accessible through an I2P proxy tunnel.
Network-heads and Darknet enthusiasts will have a field day with I2P, as the service is very user-configurable, and much of the information available is very technical and jargon-heavy. This guide is not for them.
1. Download and install Java – I2P is written in the Java programming language, so to run it you will need to have Java installed. It is quite likely that you already have this on your system, but if not, then download the latest version and install it (if you are not sure then skip this step for a minute, and come back if I2P refuses to run).
2. Download, install and run I2P.
3. When you run I2P, a console window will open. If you need help, then you can copy and paste the log files from here, which will be useful to anyone assisting you.
4. A browser window will also open on the I2P Router Console page to let you know that you have connected successfully to the IP2 network. You may initially have to wait a few minutes while the software finds peers and connects tunnels to them.
6. You now need to configure your Browser to connect through I2P. This can be done be done in any browser, but as we consider Internet Exploret to be insecure, and Chrome an open window for Google spying, we will use Firefox (the process is similar regardless of browser).
Go to Firefox -> Options -> Advanced tab -> Network tab -> Connection Settings
Check the ‘Manual proxy configuration’ box and enter the following values: HTTP Proxy: 127.0.0.1, Port: 4444. It is also a good idea to add ‘localhost, 127.0.0.1 to the ‘No Proxy for’ box
‘OK’ your way back out of Settings and you are done! It is commonly recommended that you use the Firefox Extension FoxyProxy to quickly change proxy settings if you use I2P often. This is a great idea, but we experienced connection problems when we tried it (which may the fault of our highly kinked Firefox browser).
7. You should now be able to connect to I2P websites (known as eepSites, and which have the .i2p suffix). Enter the address of any eepSite (one of the .i2p links in the Router Console window is a good place to start).
At first you will not have any Eepsites in your router’s Address book, so you will need the help of a ‘jump’ service. The reasons for this is rather technical, but all you need do is click one of the jump service links. If one link doesn’t work then try another (we had much better luck using the second link down).
Click on ‘Save [website] to router address book and continue to eepite’, and the eepSite should load. Unfortunately, when you first start using I2P you may have to go through this process a few times.
8. You should now be connected to an eepSite, and are ready to explore the I2P darknet. A good place to start finding interesting eepSites is the eepsite.com search engine.
Enjoy! A great deal more information (including info on configuring firewall ports) is available from the main website, but is beyond the scope of this beginners guide.
You can also use I2P to surf the visible (‘normal’) web anonymously. Here the IPligence website shows our IP as that of an I2P HHTP Outproxy address