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README.md

AergoLite

SQLite with Blockchain

The easiest way to deploy a blockchain for relational data storage on your app or device

AergoLite allows us to have a replicated SQLite database secured by a private and lightweight blockchain.

Each app has a local replica of the database.

New database transactions are distributed to all the peers and once they reach a consensus on the order of execution all the nodes execute the transactions. As the order of execution of these transactions is the same, all the nodes have the same resulting database content.

Apps can also write to the local database when they are off-line. The database transactions are stored on a local queue and sent to the network once the connectivity is reestablished. The application will read the new state of the database after the off-line modifications, and it can check if the off-line transactions were processed by the global consensus. If rejected, the database will return to the previous state.

AergoLite uses special blockchain technology focused on resource constrained devices.

The consensus protocol uses a Verifiable Random Function (VRF) to determine which node will produce the next block, and the nodes cannot discover which node is selected ahead of time. Making it safe against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

AergoLite uses absolute finality. Once the nodes reach consensus on a new block and the transactions are confirmed there is no way back. Also there is no need to create new blocks if there are no transactions to be processed (unlike with probabilistic finality).

Only the last block is required to check the blockchain and the database state integrity, therefore the nodes do not need to keep and verify all the history of blocks and transactions. It is also possible to setup some nodes to keep all the history for audit reasons.

It also uses a hash of the database state. This lets the nodes to check if they have exactly the same content on the database, protects against intentional modifications on the database file and also works as an integrity check to detect failures on the storage media.

This final hash is updated using only the modified pages on each new block. It does not need to load the entire database to calculate the new state. The integrity check is also only made when a new db page is loaded. This drastically increases the database performance.

The resulting solution does not require big disk storage, uses low processor time and low RAM.

The network traffic is also lightweight to reduce energy consumption. New packets are transferred only when there are new database transactions.

This technology allows us to run a real private blockchain on IoT and mobile devices.

AergoLite is also easy to use. You do not need to know how a blockchain works to use it.

Supported OS:

  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • OpenWrt

Supported programming languages:

  • C
  • C++
  • Java
  • Javascript (Node.js)
  • Python
  • .Net (C# and VB)
  • Ruby
  • Swift
  • Lua
  • Go

And probably any other that has support for SQLite.

Most of these languages are supported via existing wrappers.

Pre-compiled binaries

Check the releases

Docker images

  • Base (with libraries and the SQLite shell, it can also be used to add C/C++ applications)
  • Python
  • Node.js

To build the images locally:

make docker

Compiling and installing

On Linux and Mac

First install the required tools with this command:

sudo apt-get install git gcc make automake libtool libreadline-dev -y

Then copy and paste this on a terminal:

# Install libuv

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/libuv/libuv
cd libuv
./autogen.sh
./configure
make
sudo make install
sudo ldconfig
cd ..

# Install binn

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/liteserver/binn
cd binn
make
sudo make install
cd ..

# Install libsecp256k1-vrf

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/aergoio/secp256k1-vrf
cd secp256k1-vrf
./autogen.sh
./configure --disable-benchmark
make
sudo make install
cd ..

# Install AergoLite

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/aergoio/aergolite
cd aergolite
make
sudo make install
cd -

On Windows using MinGW

Copy and paste this on a MSYS2 MinGW terminal:

# Compile libuv

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/libuv/libuv
cd libuv
./autogen.sh
./configure
make
make install
cd ..

# Compile binn

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/liteserver/binn
cd binn
make
make install
cd ..

# Compile libsecp256k1-vrf

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/aergoio/secp256k1-vrf
cd secp256k1-vrf
./autogen.sh
./configure --with-bignum=no --disable-benchmark
make
make install
cd ..

# Compile AergoLite

git clone --depth=1 https://github.com/aergoio/aergolite
cd aergolite
make
make install

For Android

Use the SQLite Android Bindings to generate an aar file and then include it on the Android Studio project. A sample project is available here

For iOS

Generate static and dynamic libraries with the command:

./makeios

They can be included as a module on iOS projects. You can also copy them to the AergoLite sub-folder from the AergoLite.swift wrapper

Automated Tests

These tests simulate up to 100 nodes on your computer.

Before running the tests you will need to increase the limit of open files on your terminal:

ulimit -Sn 16000

Then you can run the automated tests with:

make test

For printing debug messages to a log file you must recompile the library in debug mode before running the tests:

make clean
make debug

Running the tests with Valgrind is also available:

make valgrind

Using

The compiled library has support for both native SQLite database files and for SQLite databases with blockchain support, so the application can open native SQLite databases and ones with blockchain at the same time.

The library works exactly the same way for a normal SQLite database.

For opening a database with blockchain support we use a URI parameter: blockchain

Example:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on"

Blockchain Administrator

AergoLite implements a private blockchain. This means that you or your organization can have your own private blockchain(s) in which you have control of what can happen.

The entity who has the control over the blockchain is called the blockchain administrator. It is an user that has its own private + public key pair.

The blockchain administrator can:

  • Add nodes to the blockchain network
  • Execute reserved SQL commands

In future versions it will also be able to:

  • Remove nodes from the blockchain network
  • Add users to the network
  • Create smart contracts to let nodes to execute blocked SQL commands

You will need to inform the public key of the blockchain administrator on each participating node.

This ensures that:

  1. The nodes can verify that the received commands come from the blockchain administrator
  2. A node will not join a network that is not owned by you

This is done via the admin parameter, where the public key can be in native or hex format.

Example:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&admin=95F9AB75CA1..."

Immutability

Trust based solutions allow specific users or nodes to execute any SQL command on the database. They are not secure because an attacker acquiring control of a single node can delete and/or overwrite data on the entire network.

A real trustless and immutable blockchain should control what nodes can do.

AergoLite is by default append-only for nodes. They can only execute INSERT INTO SQL commands. Only the administrator is able to execute all the SQL commands.

Future versions may allow nodes to execute smart contracts created by the administrator that can include any SQL command.

All of this enforces the requirement for an attacker to control the majority of the nodes on the network to be able to attack it.

Private key protection

Each node generates a distinct private + public key pair. They are identified and authorized via their public key.

For now the private key for each node is stored encrypted on the device. Future versions may support hardware based private key protection.

We need to inform the password used for decrypting the private key using the password URI parameter.

Example:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&admin=95F9AB75CA1...&password=testing"

The password can be different on each node.

Optionally your application can be responsible for generating and storing the private key for each node. In this case it can inform the private key in hex format to the library via URI using the privkey parameter:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&admin=95F9AB75CA1...&privkey=AABBCCDD..."

This can be useful when using AergoLite on containers, where each instance must have a different private key.

The blockchain administrator is responsible for storing its private key in a secure way. We recommend not storing it on one of the blockchain nodes and not in plain format. It should be encrypted and stored on an external device or media. A paper wallet is also a good idea. The best option is to use a hardware wallet.

Hardware wallet

ledger-app-aergolite-sql

For the higher level of security the blockchain administrator can protect its private key using a Ledger Nano S.

On this case he/she would use the device to sign its transactions.

For more details check the instructions

Node discovery

A node needs to discover its peers on the blockchain network.

We specify the node discovery method using the discovery URI parameter.

There are 2 options of node discovery:

1. Local UDP broadcast

This method sends an UDP broadcast packet on the local area network to the specified port.

All nodes from the same local network must use the same port number.

Example:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&discovery=local:4329"

2. Known nodes

On this method some nodes have a fixed IP address and the other nodes connect to them.

The nodes with known address must also bind to a defined TCP port. This is informed using the bind parameter.

Example URI for a "known" node:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&bind=5501"

The other nodes must have an explicit discovery parameter containing the address of the known nodes.

Example URI for the other nodes:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&discovery=<ip-address>:<port>"

We can also specify the addresses of more known nodes:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&discovery=<ip-address1>:<port1>,<ip-address2>:<port2>"

Once a connection is established and the node is accepted they exchange a list of active nodes addresses.

3. Mixing both methods

We can also use the 2 above methods at the same time. This can be useful when we have some nodes on the LAN and others that are outside.

We can fix the address of one or more nodes so they can be found by nodes from outside the local network.

Nodes on the LAN will discover local nodes via UDP broadcast and can either connect to known nodes outside the LAN or receive connections from them.

Known nodes can bind to a port, find local nodes via broadcast and also connect to external known nodes. Example:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&bind=1234&discovery=local:1234,<outside_ip1>:<port1>,<outside_ip2>:<port2>"

Nodes without fixed address will use the local discovery and the connection to outside known nodes:

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&discovery=local:1234,<outside_ip1>:<port1>,<outside_ip2>:<port2>"

If nodes on this LAN are just receiving connections from outside, then the discovery parameter must contain just the local discovery method.

Listing connected nodes

You can list the nodes on your private blockchain network using the command:

PRAGMA nodes

It will list all authorized nodes, connected or not, and also connected nodes that are not yet authorized.

Adding nodes to the network

After listing the connected nodes with the above command the blockchain administrator can authorize nodes using the command:

PRAGMA add_node="<public key>"

Only the blockchain administrator can add nodes to the network.

The first node to be authorized must be the one in which the command is being executed.

The authorizations for other nodes must be executed on nodes that are already authorized.

The above command will be sent to the Ledger device to be signed if the device is connected, otherwise it will fire the transaction signature callback where the transaction must be signed using the blockchain administrator private key.

Specifying the node type

By default a node is authorized as a light node (does not keep the history of blocks). To authorize it as a full node add full: before the node's public key:

PRAGMA add_node="full:<public key>"

To modify a node's type after it was already authorized, use the node_type command. It has this format:

PRAGMA node_type="<type>:<nodes>"

The type can be full or light. The "nodes" is a comma separated list of node identifiers (public key or node id) or * for all the authorized nodes.

Here are some examples:

PRAGMA node_type="full:Am12..abc1"
PRAGMA node_type="full:Am12..abc1,Am12..abc2,Am12..abc3"
PRAGMA node_type="full:1287649477,3817592406,2373041549"
PRAGMA node_type="full:*"
PRAGMA node_type="light:1287649477"

Signing transactions

On AergoLite the blockchain transactions are built using the SQL commands from the database transactions.

Each database transaction generates one blockchain transaction.

These transactions need to be signed to be accepted by the network and included on the blockchain.

Two entities can sign transactions:

  • The administrator
  • Each authorized node

If the transaction requires special rights, the AergoLite library will send it to be signed by the adminstrator. Otherwise it will automatically sign it using the node's private key.

If no Ledger device is used on your network, then at least one node needs to register a function that will be used to sign transactions from the administrator

Example in Python:

def on_sign_transaction(data):
  print "txn to be signed: " + data
  signature = sign(data, privkey)
  return hex(pubkey) + ":" + hex(signature)

con.create_function("sign_transaction", 1, on_sign_transaction)

ATTENTION: The callback function is called by the worker thread!! Your application must sign the transaction and return as fast as possible!

If a special command that requires admin privilege is executed on a node but it is not signed by him then the transaction will be rejected.

Retrieving status

There are 2 ways to retrieve status:

  1. Locally via PRAGMA commands
  2. Remotely sending status requests via UDP packets

Database status

Your application must check if the local database is ready for read and write before any SQL command is executed.

This checking is done with the command:

PRAGMA db_is_ready

It returns 1 when the application can read from and write to the database, otherwise it returns 0.

Blockchain status

This has information about the local blockchain, the local database and the network.

It can be queried locally using the command:

PRAGMA blockchain_status

It will return a result in JSON format like the following:

{
  "use_blockchain": true,

  "blockchain": {
    "last_block": 150,
    "state_hash": "E3B0C44298FC1C149AFBF4C8996FB92427AE41E4649B934CA495991B7852B855",
    "integrity": {
      "state": "OK",
      "chain": "pruned"
    }
  },

  "node": {
    "id": 1366464921,
    "pubkey": "AmNdtXoBk6mYwgq2XDsx8pW9cvmoTQ3bp7v7kJxBcckvrC8HWBrE",
    "type": "light",
    "local_transactions": {
      "processed": 17,
      "unprocessed": 2,
      "total": 19
    }
  },

  "mempool": {
    "num_transactions": 2
  },

  "network": {
    num_authorized_nodes: 25,
    num_connected_peers: 21
  },

  "downstream_state": "in sync",
  "upstream_state": "in sync"
}

Mempool status

It returns the pending transactions on the local mempool.

PRAGMA mempool

It will return a result in JSON format like the following:

[{
  "id": 17698765927658,
  "node_id": 123,
  "nonce": 18,
  "timestamp": "2020-11-30 09:55:13",
  "commands": [
    "INSERT INTO test VALUES ('hello world!')"
  ]
}]

Application defined node information

Your application can set node specific information using this command:

PRAGMA node_info=<text>

The text value can be a single node identifier or it can contain many information serialized in any text format. Only your applications will use it.

This information is kept on memory locally and also sent to the connected peers. It is not saved on the database and it is dynamic: the next time this command is executed with a different value it will replace the previous one.

The last set value for this node can be retrieved locally using the PRAGMA node_info command.

It is possible to view the values from the connected nodes in the result of the PRAGMA nodes command in the extra field.

Last nonce

Each generated transaction on a specific node has an unique incremental nonce.

It is possible to retrieve the current node's last nonce with the command:

PRAGMA last_nonce

If the returned number is zero it means that this node has not generated any transaction yet.

Transaction Status

To retrieve the status of a local transaction:

PRAGMA transaction_status(<nonce>)

Where <nonce> should be replaced by the transaction's nonce. eg: PRAGMA transaction_status(3)

It will return

On full nodes:

  • unprocessed: the transaction was not yet processed by the network
  • included: a consensus was reached and the transaction was included on a block
  • rejected: a consensus was reached and the transaction was rejected

On light nodes:

  • unprocessed: the transaction was not yet processed by the network
  • processed: the transaction was processed by the network and a consensus was reached on its result

Light nodes do not keep information about specific transactions.

Transaction Notification

To be informed whether a specific transaction was included on a block or rejected the application must use a callback function. It is set up as an user defined function:

Example in Python:

def on_processed_transaction(nonce, status):
  print "transaction " + str(nonce) + ": " + status
  return None

con.create_function("transaction_notification", 2, on_processed_transaction)

Example in C:

static void on_processed_transaction(sqlite3_context *context, int argc, sqlite3_value **argv){
  long long int nonce = sqlite3_value_int64(argv[0]);
  char *status = sqlite3_value_text(argv[1]);

  printf("transaction %lld: %s\n", nonce, status);

  sqlite3_result_null(context);
}

sqlite3_create_function(db, "transaction_notification", 2, SQLITE_UTF8 | SQLITE_DETERMINISTIC,
  NULL, &on_processed_transaction, NULL, NULL);

ATTENTION: The callback function is called by the worker thread!! Your application should not use the db connection there and it must return as fast as possible! It can send the notification to the main thread before returning

Update Notification

Your application can be informed whenever an update occurred on the local db due to receiving a new block on the blockchain.

The notification is made using a callback function that is set using an user defined function:

Example in Python:

def on_db_update(arg):
  print "update received"
  return None

con.create_function("update_notification", 1, on_db_update)

Example in C:

static void on_db_update(sqlite3_context *context, int argc, sqlite3_value **argv){
  puts("update received");
  sqlite3_result_null(context);
}

sqlite3_create_function(db, "update_notification", 1, SQLITE_UTF8 | SQLITE_DETERMINISTIC,
  NULL, &on_db_update, NULL, NULL);

ATTENTION: The callback function is called by the worker thread!! Your application should not use the db connection there and it must return as fast as possible! It can send the notification to the main thread before returning

Block interval

Blocks are created by randomly selected nodes on each round.

AergoLite does not produce empty blocks. If there is no transaction to be processed, then no block is created.

A timer for creating a new block is activated when a transaction arrives on the nodes (and the timer is not yet active).

This timeout interval can be configured via URI using the block_interval parameter.

The value is interpreted as milliseconds.

"file:test.db?blockchain=on&block_interval=1000"

If the block interval is not specified then the library will use a default value of 3 seconds.

Limitations

This first version uses a fully connected network for communication between the nodes. It works with up to 200 nodes on the automated tests. Soon it will also contain a gossip based protocol to support millions of nodes.

Only 1 connection to each database file. If there are many applications needing to access the db file, each application must have its own copy of the database, configured as a separate node.

The numbering of rows in rowid tables (those who use an integer as the primary key) is different from SQLite. The first 32-bit are the node id and the remaining 32-bit are sequential per node. This also means that each node can create up to 2^32 rows on each rowid table.

As in any multi-master replication system, conflicts can happen. The entire transaction can be aborted in some cases, so take this into consideration. See above how the app can check the status of the transaction.

Licensing

AergoLite is released under one of the two options bellow:

  1. AGPLv3

This means that your application must comply with this license, including releasing its source code and being published under a compatible GPL.

  1. COMMERCIAL LICENSE

If the above conditions do not fit your requirements, or if you want better support and services, contact us to acquire a commercial license.

About Us

AergoLite was developed by Bernardo Ramos at:

aergo logo

Aergo has a public blockchain with support for smart contracts in Lua.

It will support relational data storage and SQL on smart contracts soon, currently available in our testnet and on private chains.

Support

Low priority support is available at our Forum

Special enterprise support is also available. Contact us via e-mail: aergolite AT aergo DOT io

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