min read

What is Urbit and why does Tacen support it?

Written by
Logan Smith
Published on
June 20, 2023

As we get closer to hosting Reassembly 2023 – the premier (unofficial) Urbit conference – we wanted to take a moment to explain to our community and anyone else who is watching what Urbit is, why we love it, and why you should be interested in it, too.

What is Urbit?

Urbit is a rapidly growing operating system (OS) and peer-to-peer network built to act as an alternative to the legacy Internet network that many of us are accustomed to. Designed to be completely owned by its users, Urbit reimagines the Internet as staying true to its original roots: open-source, peer-to-peer, and out of the control of mega corporations.

What’s so special about the Urbit OS?

The Urbit operating system (Urbit OS) is a meticulously designed stack of software, including a virtual machine, a programming language, and a kernal. The Urbit OS was built to run software for an individual, not a corporation that is trying to control the flow of data on the Internet. Put differently, the Urbit OS was created due to a lack of viable alternatives for building an entirely new “Internet” from scratch – rather than try to force something else to work, the team behind Urbit realized that a home-grown OS would be the best way to build a new global peer-to-peer network.

What are Urbit IDs?  

To understand what an Urbit ID is, it’s best to go directly to Urbit and see how they explain it:

“Urbit ID is an identity and authentication system specifically designed to work with Urbit OS. When you boot or log in to Urbit OS, you use your Urbit ID.

Your Urbit ID is a short, memorable name (like ~ravmel-ropdyl) that’s a username, network address and crypto wallet all in one. It’s registered on a blockchain, you own it with a key and no one can take it away from you. Urbit IDs are cryptographic property.

Urbit IDs aren’t money, but they are scarce, so each one costs something. This means that when you meet a stranger on the Urbit network, they have some skin in the game and are less likely to be a bot or a spammer.”

As you can see, the Urbit ID is the perfect way to safeguard this blossoming peer-to-peer network. Much like a current IP address, but much, much more useful for everyday use, data security, identity verification, and more.

What are Urbit planets?

If you’ve been paying attention to our recent social media posts, you may have seen us mention Urbit “planets” by now. Here is how Urbit explains this:

“Urbit IDs come in three classes: galaxies, stars, and planets. The length of an identity’s name will tell you its class. Galaxies are 8-bit and have names like ~mul. Galaxies issue 16-bit stars (~dacmul), which can themselves issue 32-bit planets (~laptel-holfur).

Planets are intended for everyday use by individuals, and there are 4.3 billion of them (two to the 32nd power). Stars and galaxies, on the other hand, are meant to act as network infrastructure: on the Urbit OS network they provide routing and are responsible for distributing software updates.”

The use of planets, stars, and galaxies is an intuitive way to make sense of this kind of scale and architecture.  

What are some other Urbit terms that I should know?

Other helpful Urbit terms would be:

Azimuth – the set of Ethereum contracts that make up the infrastucture for Urbit IDs.

Moons - meant for connected devices: phones, desktops, smart TVs, digital thermostats, and other IoT devices. Moons are subordinate to their parent planet.

Comets - have no parents. They can be launched by anyone for free. Since their identity is not maintained on the blockchain, they will likely not be trusted by default by others on the Urbit OS network, though you shouldn't have any problem until the network grows much larger.

@p – pronounced pat-pee - a name like ~zod or ~lodleb-ritrul composed of pronounceable, three-letter phonemic elements like. This is what a user identity is referred to as.

Hoon - a strict, higher-order typed functional programming language that compiles itself to Nock. As a result Hoon code is effectively implemented by the interpreter Vere. Programs for the Urbit operating system and kernel, Arvo, are written in Hoon.

Why is Tacen so interested in Urbit?

This video explains the appeal of Urbit very well; it’s a little over three minutes long, and you should check it out. To summarize our thinking: the Internet, as it currently exists, is not working as it should. With high amounts of surveillance, restrictions, and bad actors, the Internet that you’re using right now is not the Internet that we were promised years ago. Urbit offers an alternative: a network that you control.

Tacen wants to see people become more free. That’s a driving factor behind our work on the Tacen Exchange and Tacen Swap features, and we want to see a future with more freedom. For that reason, we support Urbit and look forward to the day that people can use our products on Urbit.

With Reassembly 2023 happening August 16-18, 2023, time is running out to secure your spot at this incredible conference! Come on out to Cheyenne, Wyoming to learn about Urbit, meet the team behind Tacen, and discover something new.


New to Tacen and wanting to learn what it’s all about? Be sure to follow us on Twitter to catch the latest updates and join our Discord community to meet the team and make friends. We love to give crypto to our community, and staying active on our Twitter and in our Discord server are the best ways to be the first in line.  

Welcome to Tacen – how crypto was meant to be.

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