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
Install the Upspin tools
Download an archive of the Upspin command-line tools from the download
page, and extract it to a directory that’s in your system
The archive includes:
upspin command-line tool (to create, access, share, and administer data
stored in Upspin),
upspin-ui graphical user interface (a visual helper for signing up,
deploying Upspin servers, and working with Upspin data),
cacheserver daemon (a cache for remote Upspin data),
- and, on macOS and Linux systems, the
(a FUSE filesystem, to mount the Upspin
file system in your local file tree).
If your operating system is not listed on the download page, you can obtain
the binaries by installing Upspin from source.
First install Go and then use
go get to
fetch Upspin and its dependencies and build them:
$ go get upspin.io/cmd/...
This will install the Upspin commands to
$GOPATH/bin, which you should add
to your system
PATH if you haven’t already.
Create an Upspin user
You will need to choose an Upspin user name, which is just an email address you
Your user name is how the Upspin system and its users will identify you and your
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
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
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:
- I will use existing Upspin servers.
- I will deploy new Upspin servers to the Google Cloud Platform.
- Skip configuring my servers; I’ll use Upspin in read-only mode for now.
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
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
To go back, edit your
$HOME/upspin/config file and remove its
storeserver: lines and restart
Creating your Upspin directory
If you choose to use existing servers or to deploy your own, the
program will attempt to create a directory in the nominated directory server
that will host your Upspin tree (your “user root”).
If you are planning to join an existing Upspin directory and store server,
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.
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.
To prove that your user root was created successfully, try copying a file to
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
If something is wrong then you will see an error message.
Another way is to use the
upspin cp command:
$ upspin cp ./hello.jpg firstname.lastname@example.org/
To check that everything worked, copy it back and verify its contents:
$ upspin cp email@example.com/hello.jpg ./ciao.jpg
$ sum hello.jpg ciao.jpg
1600 21 hello.jpg
1600 21 ciao.jpg
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 $HOMEfirstname.lastname@example.org
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.