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Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Client-Only
    2.1 Description
    2.2 Command Line Example
    2.3 Config File Example
  3. Client-Server via Tor Hidden Service
    3.1 Description
    3.2 Command Line Example
    3.3 Config File Example
  4. Bridge Mode (Not Anonymous)
    4.1 Description
    4.2 Command Line Example
    4.3 Config File Example
  5. Tor Stream Isolation
    5.1 Description
    5.2 Command Line Example
    5.3 Config File Example

1. Overview

btcd provides full support for anonymous networking via the Tor Project, including client-only and hidden service configurations along with stream isolation. In addition, btcd supports a hybrid, bridge mode which is not anonymous, but allows it to operate as a bridge between regular nodes and hidden service nodes without routing the regular connections through Tor.

While it is easier to only run as a client, it is more beneficial to the Bitcoin network to run as both a client and a server so others may connect to you to as you are connecting to them. We recommend you take the time to setup a Tor hidden service for this reason.

2. Client-Only

2.1 Description

Configuring btcd as a Tor client is straightforward. The first step is obviously to install Tor and ensure it is working. Once that is done, all that typically needs to be done is to specify the --proxy flag via the btcd command line or in the btcd configuration file. Typically the Tor proxy address will be 127.0.0.1:9050 (if using standalone Tor) or 127.0.0.1:9150 (if using the Tor Browser Bundle). If you have Tor configured to require a username and password, you may specify them with the --proxyuser and --proxypass flags.

By default, btcd assumes the proxy specified with --proxy is a Tor proxy and hence will send all traffic, including DNS resolution requests, via the specified proxy.

NOTE: Specifying the --proxy flag disables listening by default since you will not be reachable for inbound connections unless you also configure a Tor hidden service.

2.2 Command Line Example

$ ./btcd --proxy=127.0.0.1:9050

2.3 Config File Example

[Application Options]

proxy=127.0.0.1:9050

3. Client-Server via Tor Hidden Service

3.1 Description

The first step is to configure Tor to provide a hidden service. Documentation for this can be found on the Tor project website here. However, there is no need to install a web server locally as the linked instructions discuss since btcd will act as the server.

In short, the instructions linked above entail modifying your torrc file to add something similar to the following, restarting Tor, and opening the hostname file in the HiddenServiceDir to obtain your hidden service .onion address.

HiddenServiceDir /var/tor/btcd
HiddenServicePort 8333 127.0.0.1:8333

Once Tor is configured to provide the hidden service and you have obtained your generated .onion address, configuring btcd as a Tor hidden service requires three flags:

  • --proxy to identify the Tor (SOCKS 5) proxy to use for outgoing traffic. This is typically 127.0.0.1:9050.
  • --listen to enable listening for inbound connections since --proxy disables listening by default
  • --externalip to set the .onion address that is advertised to other peers

3.2 Command Line Example

$ ./btcd --proxy=127.0.0.1:9050 --listen=127.0.0.1 --externalip=fooanon.onion

3.3 Config File Example

[Application Options]

proxy=127.0.0.1:9050
listen=127.0.0.1
externalip=fooanon.onion

4. Bridge Mode (Not Anonymous)

4.1 Description

btcd provides support for operating as a bridge between regular nodes and hidden service nodes. In particular this means only traffic which is directed to or from a .onion address is sent through Tor while other traffic is sent normally. As a result, this mode is NOT anonymous.

This mode works by specifying an onion-specific proxy, which is pointed at Tor, by using the --onion flag via the btcd command line or in the btcd configuration file. If you have Tor configured to require a username and password, you may specify them with the --onionuser and --onionpass flags.

NOTE: This mode will also work in conjunction with a hidden service which means you could accept inbound connections both via the normal network and to your hidden service through the Tor network. To enable your hidden service in bridge mode, you only need to specify your hidden service's .onion address via the --externalip flag since traffic to and from .onion addresses are already routed via Tor due to the --onion flag.

4.2 Command Line Example

$ ./btcd --onion=127.0.0.1:9050 --externalip=fooanon.onion

4.3 Config File Example

[Application Options]

onion=127.0.0.1:9050
externalip=fooanon.onion

5. Tor Stream Isolation

5.1 Description

Tor stream isolation forces Tor to build a new circuit for each connection making it harder to correlate connections.

btcd provides support for Tor stream isolation by using the --torisolation flag. This option requires --proxy or --onionproxy to be set.

5.2 Command Line Example

$ ./btcd --proxy=127.0.0.1:9050 --torisolation

5.3 Config File Example

[Application Options]

proxy=127.0.0.1:9050
torisolation=1