YaCyPi – Turnkey Raspberry Pi based Internet Search Engine
» » YaCyPi – Turnkey Raspberry Pi based Internet Search Engine

YaCyPi – Turnkey Raspberry Pi based Internet Search Engine

YaCyPi will be a turnkey solution for the Raspberry Pi to turn a common ordinary Raspberry Pi (Model B) into your own search engine. Check out the kickstarter project. This is one of the most important projects that has been on kickstarter in a long time. If you can’t afford to donate you should at least help spread the word.

What is YaCyPi:

YaCyPi will be a turnkey solution for the Raspberry Pi with the goal of turning a common ordinary Raspberry Pi (Model B) into your very own search engine. Using the software YaCy, you no longer need to be bound by Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc for your internet queries.

We believe that society benefits from free access to information. In order for this to be possible information needs to be freely accessible by everyone. Currently the domain of search is controlled by corporations who have the ability to manipulate results.

When Google was first designed by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, they made the following claim: “But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.” [ Citation: Appendix A  ] Sadly, today search engines are dominated by corporate and government interests. Between free information and the user, a vital link is missing: free search.

YaCy aims to correct this problem. YaCy is the missing link between free content and the search-engine independent user. Only a decentralized search engine technology can ensure free access to knowledge.

What is YaCy:

YaCy is a software stack that allows for free internet searches through a decentralized network.  YaCy claims to be, “Web Search by the people, for the people.”

YaCy Explained - Image Property of yacy.de - used under GPL
YaCy Explained – Image Property of yacy.de – used under GPL

Why would I want this:

There are several reasons you may want a system like this. First and foremost would be to limit the amount of tracking that is done on you by the major search engines. Every time you search on google, your search is saved, over time this helps google build up a profile of you. Aside from not desiring to be tracked by companies which trade and sell your software, the NSA Leaks by Edward Snowden have shown how information from the major search engines are captured and analyzed by governments around the world.

Even if you are doing nothing wrong, there is no reason you should be spied on every time you use a search engine.The problem with profiling online searches is that the context of those searches is unknown. So looking at these searches without context, can result in a improper profile.I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch a few minutes of the following clip from Aleks Krotoski’s documentary, “The Virtual Revolution: The Cost of Free”  (watch up to at least 50:25)

Second there is the benefit that since YaCy is based on a decentralized network, there is no way for anyone to censor internet sites. A decentralized search system gives users freedom and independence

How will it work:

This will be a complete turnkey solution. All you will need to do is plug in the SD card, plug your Raspberry Pi into the network, connect power and boot. Once the Raspberry Pi boots, put its IP address on your local network into your browser and you’re ready to go. All of the pre configuration will be done for you. You are more than welcome to go in and change any settings later if you’d like. You will also be able to set a Static IP for your device on your local network if you choose.Since this is a solution for the Raspberry Pi, you are free to take this with you when you travel, or are at a friends house and still wish your searches to be private.

Current project status:

Building on past development experience, the base Raspberry Pi image will be a Puppy Linux ARM released utilizing the Debian Wheezy Armel repo.  The choice of using Puppy Linux over the stock Raspbian was made due to not needing a full X environment, and wanting to use the least amount of system resources as possible.  Since YaCyPi will run ‘headless’, that is with no graphical system; there is no reason for the OS to waste resources on running this code.  This will give the maximum amount of system resources to the YaCy code stack.  Since the Raspberry Pi’s hardware resources are minimal, this will allow much better performance over a stock Rasbian image.

Base Image - Raspberry Pi Resource Usage
Base Image – Raspberry Pi Resource Usage

Project Timeline:

Currently the Core Raspberry Pi image is almost complete.  Further refinement needs to take place for maximum efficiency.  Once the core image is fine tuned, integration of the YaCy Software Stack will begin, along with all configuration so that a user is required to do no configuration before being able to search the web through the distributed peer-to-peer network.

Once completed, all a user will be required to do is insert the SD card, plug their Raspberry Pi into their network, and power up the device. (Depending on your local network, you may additionally need to forward port 8090 to your Raspberry Pi on your router)

Final refinement of the Core Image as well as the most efficient configuration of the YaCy Software Stack will be completed in two months.

Shipping of Supporter Reward levels will begin the week following completion of the OS and software.  Estimated shipping date will be late April of 2014.

Who we are:

We are a group of Security Consultants that are that are highly interested in restoring privacy online.  Obsidian Security Services has been providing Security Consulting since the late 90’s. We specialize in providing boutique security consulting to our clients. Our areas of focus include Computer Security, Counter Surveillance, and Counter Forensic Solutions. We are also active Linux Developers with the Puppy Linux Project and active in the Fedora and Arch Linux Communities.

Our Lead developer has personally developed four distinct Puppy Linux releases in the past. Two of which are designed for the Raspberry Pi.

  • AttackPup is the first Puppy Linux Pen-Testing focused release.
  • Slackbones is a minimal 64bit Puppy Linux release.
  • Raspberry Pi Random Pup is a single use release which enables a user to turn their Raspberry Pi into a Network Hardware Random Number Generator, enabling all machines on a network a source of true randomness.
  • Cloudpup is a release for the Raspberry Pi which allows a user to run a headless local instance of OwnCloud on their private network.

With the revelations from the Summer of Snowden, we have been focused more in finding ways to restore privacy online. We hope this project will help in that goal.


The YaCy network is made up of individuals who have chosen to help in the effort for a free and open search engine. As such the network does not run on hundreds of millions of dollars of hardware like Google and Bing.  As a result, searches are usually a bit slower.  I’ve found searching to take several seconds longer than if I was searching on Google.  As more users join the network, the network will operate faster.  Until YaCyPi has run for a while, search results will be minimal, until it fully connects to the entire YaCy network.  Again, this is a result of not having the resources of Google crawling the web. More users crawling the web = better search results.  The quality of the network hinges entirely on the numbers of people willing to help it. The YaCy network is growing, and it will continue to grow over time.  Do not expect this to be an instant replacement for Google  This is however a big step towards the future of a free and open internet.

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

The only potential challange for completing this product would be a temporary delay in obtaining the quanitity of Raspberry Pis needed to fill the final reward level. To mitigate this, we have already started a dialog with several suppliers to ensure that when the time comes, we will have the number we need.

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Follow Daniel Blair:

I am Dan, a web and mobile application developer in Winnipeg MB (Canada!). I am the kind of person who gets excited about technology regardless of what it is and I am really passionate about what I do. I focus a lot on open source development making things that help other people but I have also recently started making some fun little games but I am by no stretch of the imagination a full fledged game developer.