IPFS-based websites are tied to Ethereum-based domain name services, such as ENS and Unstoppable Domains featuring either “.eth” or “.crypto” suffixes.
The websites are hosted on a decentralized network of peer-to-peer computers, making them resilient to most censorship tools available for the traditional web.
Integration on MyEtherWallet automates the process of uploading a website to the IPFS.
Kosala Hemachandra, the CEO of MyEtherWallet, explains that the users provide a .zip file containing the website’s files.
Meanwhile, the dedicated app takes care of uploading it to IPFS and associating it with a blockchain domain.
Although, the technology is still in a relatively crude state.
Hemachandra explains that the websites can only have static pages. On being asked if WordPress could be installed on IPFS, he replied:
“In order for something like WordPress to work you have to have a backend server. Because of that — there are no servers in the distributed world — so there is no way to run the full WordPress instance.”
Websites built on WordPress can still be uploaded to IPFS, although they need to be exported as fully static snapshots through third-party plugins.
This, Hemachandra adds is due to “fundamental limitations on creating something like a distributed server.” The issue is unlikely to be solved soon, but Hemachandra emphasized that “nothing is impossible.”
However, this doesn’t mean that IPFS websites are completely static.
Another issue of IPFS-based websites is the difficulty in accessing them. Natively, only the Opera browser supports blockchain domains.
On others, extensions like MetaMask are necessary to view them.
Moreover, some of these websites are available through proxies with a “.link” domain on the normal web.
Hemachandra noted that some of the people who purchased crypto domains “didn’t know what to do with that.”
The initial case was to associate the long Ethereum hexadecimal address to a human-readable domain.
Hosting a website is thus a way for the company to expose people to some of the more advanced uses of blockchain domains.
“And at the same time, we want to enable free speech.”
He noted that in the cryptocurrency space many platforms still rely on the traditional web, which is inconsistent with the overall vision of the ecosystem.
Hemachandra views that gradually familiarizing users with the experience of using a decentralized website is key to adoption, instead of making a complex and confusing system.
“[We are] slowly taking the first step towards a fully decentralized future, and that’s pretty much our goal.”