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How do nodes communicate in the IPFS network? Aren't they still using HTTP?

If not, how is JS-IPFS able to interact directly with the IPFS network without the need for a HTTP gateway server?

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IPFS uses peer-to-peer communication using the libp2p library which uses multiaddress(multiaddr). multiaddr is a way of communication using multiple protocols. The JS version of the libp2p library allows you to configure Transports which are used to communicate between peers. Here's a list of supported transports as shown on the configuration guide.

  • libp2p/js-libp2p-tcp
  • libp2p/js-libp2p-webrtc-star
  • libp2p/js-libp2p-webrtc-direct
  • libp2p/js-libp2p-websockets
  • libp2p/js-libp2p-utp (WIP)

The js-libp2p-tcp and js-libp2p-utp cannot be used in a browser.

IPFS & libp2p: https://docs.ipfs.io/concepts/libp2p/

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