Chapter 1. Status of Hive

Hive is a platform for doing research in distributed agents. When we say "no warranty", that's not just legal boilerplate, we mean it! Hive has lots of bugs, several design flaws, and a lot of inefficiencies that make it a far cry from production code. However, we think the architecture is interesting and novel, and hope that providing it to other people in source code form will allow them to learn from it.

Hive is stable enough to be useful. About eight different groups of people within the MIT Media Lab have used Hive to develop their own projects, and a few groups outside our lab are starting to use it as well. Be an early adopter!

Hive is an active research project, and we are delighted to get feedback, bug reports, and improvements from people. Please mail us at with any personal feedback you have. Also please take advantage of our mailing list to talk to other people about Hive. Details are on our web page at

As noted in the preface, Hive is not terribly well documented. We know this is disorienting, and we are working slowly to write more complete documentation. If you want to do much with Hive now, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and look at the source code. That's the good thing about free software, you can do that! Our papers on Hive, particularly the overview paper from ASA/MA '99, will give you a sense of how things work. There is javadoc documentation, but its coverage is spotty.

An Important Note about Security

Hive is a networked mobile code application. Hive has huge security implications when running on your system: it is designed to make it easy for people to come in and use your computer's resources. Anyone can write an agent that moves to your computer and starts running Java code. We have made some effort to build a reasonable security policy for Hive, but we know it has holes and definitely do not guarantee its safety. For the moment, we hope that obscurity and friendliness keeps Hive users safe. If you run Hive with the --nojoin flag, no one else will know you are running Hive unless you try to probe for it. We hope to address the security problems in the long run, but it's a research project in its own right. In the meantime, understand that running Hive constitutes a security risk.