Comparing Reticulum and MeshtasticJan 31, 2024
I've blogged about both Reticulum and Meshtastic before (1, 2, 3, 4) and I've even given a presentation about both of them. The past few months, I started getting more involved with Reticulum, however I'm still reading the Meshtastic Discord to keep up with the project. In both communities, I see one question that comes up often: "Which one is better?". I want to try to answer this question and hopefully help people understand these projects better.
Apples and Oranges
The truth is that trying to compare Reticulum and Meshtastic, is like trying to compare apples and oranges as the expression goes. While they have some similarities, their end goals are completely different. Let's start by comparing the first sentence on each project's website:
An open source, off-grid, decentralized, mesh network built to run on
affordable, low-power devices
Reticulum is the cryptography-based networking stack for building local and
wide-area networks with readily available hardware.
Again, on the surface these read in a very similar manner, however there are four words in the Reticulum tagline that clearly define the project's goal: cryptography-based networking stack. Reticulum aims to be a network stack that uses cryptography at its core for routing information.
On the other hand, Meshtastic is a long range off-grid communication platform as described in the introduction page.
So, we have a network stack vs a communication platform.
Both apples and oranges are fruits
Having said the above, the two projects do have some similarities, so it does make some sense that people try to compare them.
First of all, both projects make use of cheap LoRa devices to achieve their very long-range communications. I think a lot of people stumble upon both projects when they search for usecases of these cheap LoRa boards. This is how I found out about both of them and from what I've seen this holds truth for others as well.
Second, both projects create a mesh network with the connected devices. The way routing in the two mesh implementations works is drastically different, but this is an implementation detail that most users will not initially look at.
Finally, both are Free and Open Source Software. The Reticulum ecosystem is mostly using the MIT license, while Meshtastic is mostly GPLv3. Meshtastic does require contributors to sign a CLA however, which is something I'm firmly opposed to.
Right fruit for the job
Each project is better suited towards a certain use case. Identify what your needs are and pick the one that works best for you.
Reticulum is meant to create networks over non-homogeneous devices (LoRa, Packet Radio, TCP/IP, I2P, even Wi-Fi HaLow) from the ground up, while Meshtastic is meant as a platform for end users to exchange messages over LoRa.
I hope the above helps shed some light in the two projects.
Comments on Fediverse.