Decentralized certificate authority and naming

An experimental peer-to-peer root DNS.

Developer Faucet: Dispenses coins for internet name registration Sign-up

Source Code: Latest code on GitHub

Technical Info: Paper, install and docs.


Handshake is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol compatible with DNS where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities. Its purpose is not to replace the DNS protocol, but to replace the root zone file and the root servers with a public commons.

The Handshake protocol maintains the root zone file in a decentralized manner, making the root zone uncensorable, permissionless, and free of gatekeepers.

Blockchain Blocks


By running Handshake, one can participate in a decentralized open platform secured by a decentralized peer-to-peer network.

Read the project paper
Documentation can be found here
Latest source code is on GitHub

  • Transparent auction process for simpler, decentralized and more secure top-level domain registration
  • Alternative to certificate authorities, using a decentralized trust anchor to prove domain ownership
  • Distributed and permissionless zone file to which any participant has the right to add an entry or serve as host and validator
  • All entries in the existing root zone file have been registered in the genesis block; the top 100K domains are reserved as TLDs for existing trademark holders
  • Light clients via merkelized proofs and proof-of-work allow for secure name resolutions and certificates
  • 70% of initial 1.36B coins distributed to the FOSS community. Contributors can sign-up for the coin faucet. Learn more or sign-up


Handshake uses a coin system for name registration. The Handshake coin (HNS) is the mechanism by which participants transfer, register, and update internet names. Upon launch of the mainnet, the community will be able to initiate auctions and place bids for top-level domains using HNS or trade their HNS as they see fit. This is necessary to prevent spam on the peer-to-peer network.

To ensure Handshake remains closely tied to the FOSS community, 70% of the initial coin supply will be granted freely to the Free and Open Source Software community (with the majority going to individual FOSS contributors).

Sign-Up for the Faucet

Majority ownership of Handshake is granted to Free and Open Source Software contributors via a faucet.

The faucet dispenses coins to freenode users, top GitHub contributors, the PGP Web of Trust Strong Set, or via personal recommendation. Github registrations filled on a weekly basis.



The Handshake project has received 10.2MM USD from Project Sponsors. The net proceeds are pledged to be distributed to Free and Open Source Software communities (projects, non-profits, hackerspaces).

Free and Open Source Software is an often overlooked but crucial part of the foundations of the Internet. The Handshake project, its sponsors and contributors recognize that the project would not be here today if it wasn’t for the efforts of this community.

Many contributors to the Handshake community identify with and are long-term proponents of Free and Open Source Software. Gratitude of how this community has served humanity has been a common thread throughout the entire process thus far. Handshake has benefited not only as consumers of FOSS output but also from the mentorship, knowledge and guidance we have been able to access through the FOSS communities we have been involved with over the years.

The inclusion of the pledge recipients on this page does not constitute or imply any endorsement of Handshake on the part of recipients but simply reflects our gratitude for the recipients' contributions to FOSS!


The Project Sponsors received a minority participation (7.5%) of HNS in the interest of aligning all stakeholders, including industry. All of the 10.2MM USD collected from Project Sponsors (Funds and Individuals) will be given to Free and Open Source Software projects.

The traditional model of for-profit companies releasing open source code and hiring open source developers has historically been the primary method of community funding. The Handshake model is an experiment in a self-sustaining alternative source of no-obligation FOSS community support. See the project paper for more information.


  1. Phase I: Faucet for FOSS developers and contributors

    Q3 2018

    The Handshake faucet goes live. Verified FOSS contributors who sign-up are eligible for 2,500 HNS (up to 7,500 HNS) with the goal of ensuring that both the long-term economic sustainability and governance of the Handshake project remain closely tied to the Free and Open Source communities going forward.

  2. Phase II: Mainnet launch

    Q4 2018 (Tentative)

    The Handshake mainnet launches, allowing users to start reserving and auctioning top-level domains. HNS coins are distributed to verified contributors and partner institutions worldwide, including advisors, free/open source nonprofits, sponsors, and universities.

  3. Phase III: Worldwide distribution to humanity

    TBD, upon community consensus

    If Handshake's market cap reaches 50bn USD within the first three years (or other projects also begin to make similar commitments), we hope the community will consent to double the coin supply and distribute new coins to the world’s internet population.


The faucet distributes to freenode users, top GitHub contributors, the PGP Web of Trust Strong Set, or FOSS contributors via personal recommendation. (freenode users prioritized)



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