NDN Video Streaming on the ndn6 Network

The ndn6 network, my own global scale Named Data Networking network, came back earlier this year. I moved my NDNts video streaming app into the ndn6 network, to reduce dependency on the NDN testbed. How well is it performing?


In my last article "NDN video streaming over QUIC", I used Chrome browser's experimental QuicTransport feature to perform video streaming over Named Data Networking. The analysis revealed that QUIC transport was generally performing better than WebSockets in this application, according to metrics including video resolution and startup latency.

Web technologies are constantly evolving. QuicTransport was in Origin Trial status at the time, but it was discontinued as of Chrome 91. WebTransport was introduced in its place. The main difference is that, WebTransport uses HTTP/3 as the underlying network protocol, while QuicTransport uses QUIC datagrams.

Since HTTP/3 runs over QUIC, I expect no performance difference between the two. I promptly registered for the WebTransport Origin Trial, and updated my gateways and NDNts libraries to use the new API.

Return of the ndn6 Network

In 2014, I installed NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD) router on a tiny 128MB virtual machine. I named this node ndn6: IPv6 NDN router, because the virtual machine, purchased from the original Low End Spirit forum for €3.00/year, was an IPv6-primary service. I idled this router for three years, and then shut it down in 2017.

I created NDNts: NDN libraries for the modern web in 2019. Since then, I have been publishing my own content over Named Data Networking, most prominently the NDN push-ups. NDNts does not require a local forwarder, so that I operated video repositories by directly connecting to a nearby testbed router via UDP tunnel. Shortly after, I started experimenting with QUIC transport, which involved deploying several NDN-QUIC gateways to translate between NFD's plain UDP packets and Chrome's QUIC transport protocol.

One day, I realized: my content is sent to the global NDN testbed, and then retrieved back to my servers for delivery to browsers over QUIC. My video repository in Buffalo and NDN-QUIC gateway in Montreal are quite close to each other, but the packets are taking a detour to Boston, increasing latency by at least 10ms. Also, since I statically assign a testbed router for each application, a downtime of that router would bring my application offline as well. I thought, instead of operating isolated applications and gateways, I should setup my own NDN network.

Setting up a new NDN network is no small feat. NFD and NLSR implement forwarding and routing, but I also need to:

  • Decide on a topology between different routers.
  • Assign a name prefix to each router.
  • Install and update software in each router.
  • Generate configuration files for NFD and NLSR, and modify them as the topology changes.
  • Monitor the network and know about ongoing problems.