Signing up a new user


Before you sign up, you may want to read the Upspin overview document. It introduces the concepts and terminology you’ll need to understand to use the system.

Install the Upspin tools

To install the Upspin tools you must build them from source.

First install Go and then use go get to fetch the Upspin tools and their dependencies and build them:

$ go install{upspin,cacheserver,upspin-audit,upspinfs}@latest
$ go install

This will install the Upspin commands to $GOPATH/bin, which you should add to your system PATH if you haven’t already.

They are:

Create an Upspin user

You will need to choose an Upspin user name, which is just an email address you own. Your user name is how the Upspin system and its users will identify you and your files. Note that your chosen user name will become a matter of public record in our key server log.

Any valid email address is almost certainly a valid Upspin user name (see the faq for the exceptions to this).

You may use your regular email address or an Upspin-specific one; either way is fine. The address is published in key server logs as well as in any Upspin path name you share, so be sure your email account has whatever spam, anonymity, or other protection you feel is necessary.

No email will be sent to the address after this signup step. All future Upspin operations, even updating later to a new key pair, will be validated exclusively with the key pair generated during signup. Someone with future access to your email can’t masquerade as you in Upspin. Conversely, if you lose your keys your email account is not useful for recovery.

If you are planning to join an existing Upspin directory and store server, before starting the next step with upspin-ui, make sure to ask the administrator to add your user name to the server’s Writers group. (They’ll know what to do.) This will grant you permission to create your user root in that directory server and store data in that store server.

Start the upspin-ui program to start the signup process.

The first step asks for your user name, generates a key pair (one secret key, one public key), saves the keys locally, and sends your details, including your public key, to the key server. The public key is published to the shared Upspin key server, but the secret key is stored only on your local computer.

After generating your key pair, upspin-ui will display a “secret seed” that serves as a human-readable version of the key. (The computer-readable version is just a very long number.) Write down this secret seed, keep it somewhere safe and do not lose it. It is literally your key to Upspin.

Upspin’s security model is based on public key encryption, in which each Upspin user has a pair of keys called the public and private keys. The public key is registered with the public key server and is available to everyone, while the private key is kept in secret by the user, such as on a local workstation or other private device.

It is vital that you do not lose or share your secret key or its “secret seed” (which is equivalent to the key itself). If you lose your key and its secret seed you will lose access to this Upspin identity, including all the data you have stored and even the ability to use your registered user name. There is no way to recover a lost key. The high security that Upspin offers would be compromised if there were an account recovery mechanism.

The second step is to receive an email message from the key server and to click the confirmation link that it contains. Visiting that link proves to the key server that you control the email address that you are registering and completes the signup process.

From here on, the email address serves as your Upspin user name. However, after this account verification step Upspin will never use it as an actual email address again. At this point you could even cancel the email account, if you chose to do so, without affecting your Upspin user name. In fact, even if the email account is later hijacked, the attacker will not be able to get access to your Upspin account.

Nominate (and maybe deploy) your Upspin servers

Next you need to decide whether you are going to deploy your own Upspin directory and store servers, use those maintained by someone else, or skip specifying Upspin servers entirely.

After you have registered your account, upspin-ui prompts you to select one of three options:

Choose the first option if you want to use Upspin servers provided by somebody else, or if you want to deploy your own servers manually (see the Setting up upspinserver document for how to do this).

Choose the second option to deploy your servers to the Google Cloud Platform using the upspin-ui program, and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the deployment.

Choose the third option if you wish to use Upspin as a read-only user.

If you’re unsure, choose the third option, as you can always go back to this step later.

To go back, edit your $HOME/upspin/config file and remove its dirserver: and storeserver: lines and restart upspin-ui.

Creating your Upspin directory

Whether you chose to use existing servers or to deploy your own, the upspin-ui program will attempt to create a directory in the nominated directory server that will host your Upspin tree (your “user root”).

With the servers running and granting you access permission, and with your correct information registered in the key server, upspin-ui will create your user root and display its contents.

Hello, world

To prove that your user root was created successfully, try copying a file to the system.

Do this by dragging a file into the upspin-ui directory pane. If the directory pane refreshes and your file is there, then you are ready to use Upspin. If something is wrong then you will see an error message.

Another way is to use the upspin cp command:

$ upspin cp ./hello.jpg

To check that everything worked, copy it back and verify its contents:

$ upspin cp ./ciao.jpg
$ sum hello.jpg ciao.jpg
1600 21 hello.jpg
1600 21 ciao.jpg

Although the upspin-ui and upspin tools support all the functionality of the system, for smoother operation you may want to install the FUSE daemon, upspinfs, and a cache server that improves performance. The cache server is particularly important, and the setup instructions are in the Upspin configuration document.

Browsing Upspin Files on Linux and macOS

Upspin includes a tool called upspinfs that creates a virtual filesystem where you can access the Upspin name space as a regular mounted file system.

Here is an example of its use.

Make a directory in which to mount the Upspin name space:

$ mkdir $HOME/up

Then run the upspinfs command giving that directory as its sole argument:

$ upspinfs $HOME/up

Now you have access to the full Upspin name space:

$ ls $HOME/up/

The upspinfs command will exit when the file system is unmounted.

If you encounter an error when you run upspinfs the second time, such as:

mount helper error: fusermount: failed to open mountpoint for reading: Transport endpoint is not connected
fuse.Mount failed: fusermount: exit status 1

just unmount the directory and try again.

To learn more about upspinfs, see its documentation.