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SPV resolver daemon for the Handshake network. Written in C for speed/size/embedability.


hnsd exists as a 4-layer architecture:

  1. An SPV node which syncs headers and requests name proofs and data from peers over the HNS P2P network.
  2. An authoritative root server which translates the HNS name data to DNS responses. These responses appear as if they came from a root zone.
  3. A recursive name server pointed at the authoritative server, which serves . as a stub zone
  4. A hardcoded fallback for ICANN's root zone, residing in the authoritative layer.

A standard stub resolver can hit the recursive server with a request. The flow looks something like this.

stub resolver
  -> +rd request
  -> recursive server
  -> libunbound
  -> +nord request
  -> authoritative server
  -> spv node
  -> proof request
  -> peer

Coming back, a response will look like:

  -> proof response
  -> spv node
  -> authoritative server
  -> translated dns response
  -> libunbound
  -> recursive server
  -> dns response
  -> stub resolver

This daemon currently stores no data, and uses about 12mb of memory when operating with a full DNS cache.

This architecture works well, given that there's two layers of caching between the final resolution and the p2p layer (which entails the production of slightly expensive-to-compute proofs).

The recursive resolver leverages libunbound's built-in cache: there is, however, also a cache for the authoritative server. This is atypical when compared to a standard RFC 1035 nameserver which simply holds a zonefile in memory and serves it. All current ICANN-based root zone servers are RFC 1035 nameservers. We differ in that our root zonefile is a blockchain. With caching for the root server, new proofs only need to be requested every 6 hours (the duration of name tree update interval at the consensus layer). This substantially reduces load for full nodes who are willing to serve proofs as a public service.



  • libuv >= 1.19.2 (included)


hnsd will recursively build and statically link to uv, which is included in the source repo.

Installing Dependencies


$ brew install git automake autoconf libtool unbound


You're a Linux user so you probably already know what to do. Make sure you have git, autotools, libtool, and unbound installed via whatever package manager your OS uses. You can install these dependencies on any Ubuntu/Debian style linux using sudo apt install -y autotools-dev libtool libunbound-dev


Windows builds are made natively with MSYS2 / MinGW. This uses the MinGW libunbound and OpenSSL packages provided by MSYS2.

  1. Install MSYS2 from - follow the instructions on that page
  2. Install dependencies - do one of the following in an MSYS2 shell
    • x86_64: pacman -S base-devel mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain mingw-w64-x86_64-unbound mingw-w64-x86_64-crt-git
    • x86: pacman -S base-devel mingw-w64-i686-toolchain mingw-w64-i686-unbound mingw-w64-i686-crt-git
  3. (Optional) You can install git if you want to use it from the MSYS2 shell - pacman -S git
    • Git for Windows works fine too but avoid mixing the two, they may not handle line endings the same way
  4. Then build normally from the MSYS2 shell.

The Windows build will dynamically link to the MinGW libunbound and OpenSSL DLLs. You can run it from the MSYS2 shell, which sets PATH appropriately, copy those DLLs to the hnsd directory, etc.


$ git clone git://
$ cd hnsd


$ ./ && ./configure && make


$ sudo make install


Currently, hnsd will setup a recursive name server listening locally. If you want to resolve names through the handshake network, this requires you to change your resolv.conf to, as well as configure the daemon to listen on port 53 -- this requires root access on OSX, and some hackery on Linux.


  1. Open "System Preferences" on the panel/dock.
  2. Select "Network".
  3. Select "Advanced".
  4. Select "DNS".
  5. Here, you can add and remove nameservers. Remove all nameservers and add a single server: "". You can change this back to google's servers ( and later if you want.
  6. Run hnsd with $ sudo ./hnsd -p 4 -r


First we need to alter our resolv.conf:

echo 'nameserver' | sudo tee /etc/resolv.conf > /dev/null

Secondly, we need to allow our daemon to listen on low ports, without root access (much safer than running as root directly).

$ sudo setcap 'cap_net_bind_service=+ep' /path/to/hnsd

Now run with:

$ ./hnsd -p 4 -r

Using a static resolv.conf

On Linux, there are a few services which may try to automatically overwrite your resolv.conf. resolvconf, dhcpcd, and NetworkManager are usually the culprits here.


If you're using resolvconf, /etc/resolvconf.conf must be modified:

$ sudo vi /etc/resolvconf.conf

The name_servers field must be altered in order to truly alter your resolv.conf:



dhcpcd may try to overwrite your resolv.conf with whatever nameservers are advertised by your router (usually your ISP's nameservers). To prevent this, /etc/dhcpcd.conf must be modified:

$ sudo vi /etc/dhcpcd.conf

In the default config, you may see a line which looks like:

option domain_name_servers, domain_name, domain_search, host_name

We want to remove domain_name_servers, domain_name, and domain_search.

option host_name


Likewise, NetworkManager has similar behavior to dhcpcd. To prevent it from tainting your resolv.conf, /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf must be altered:

$ sudo vi /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf

The default NetworkManager.conf is usually empty, but we need to add a dns option under the [main] section, resulting in a configuration like:


Note that NetworkManager will also check connectivity by resolving a domain. This can cause issues with hnsd. Disable with:



Windows users: your system may alter the "end of line" characters in certain files that will break the build inside docker. To prevent this, add this option to your git global configuraiton before cloning this repo:

 $ git config --global core.autocrlf input

Building an image

To build a Docker image with the name hnsd, run:

$ docker build -t hnsd .

Running a container

To create and run a container named hnsd, run:

$ docker create \
  --name=hnsd \
  --publish= \
  --restart=unless-stopped \
  hnsd -r
$ docker start hnsd

To check the hnsd container if it runs correctly

$ docker ps -a

Stopping a container

To stop a container named hnsd, run:

$ docker stop hnsd


To build hnsd as an OpenWRT package you'll need to rename openwrt_Makefile to Makefile and put it in your_openwrt_dir/package/net/hnsd before building. Then you can use your menuconfig and select it.
Or you can use this command if you want to build on your SDK this package only:

$ make package/net/hnsd/compile V=s

Please keep in mind that hnsd needs libunbound and all of its dependencies such as libsodium, libmnl, libevent2(all packs), libpthread, libnghttp2, python3-base,libprotobuf-c and some of them are reqired to be installed manually.


$ hnsd [options]

Reccomended usage:

mkdir ~/.hnsd
hnsd -t -x ~/.hnsd

This will start hnsd sync from the hard-coded checkpoint and continue to save its own checkpoints to disk to ensure rapid chain sync on future boots.


-c, --config <config>
  Path to config file.

-n, --ns-host <ip[:port]>
  IP address and port for root nameserver, e.g.

-r, --rs-host <ip[:port]>
  IP address and port for recursive nameserver, e.g.

-i, --ns-ip <ip>
  Public IP for NS records in the root zone.

-u, --rs-config <config>
  Path to unbound config file.

-p, --pool-size <size>
  Size of peer pool.

-k, --identity-key <hex-string>
  Identity key for signing DNS responses as well as P2P messages.

-s, --seeds <seed1,seed2,...>
  Extra seeds to connect to on P2P network.
    -s aorsxa4ylaacshipyjkfbvzfkh3jhh4yowtoqdt64nzemqtiw2whk@

-l, --log-file <filename>
  Redirect output to a log file.

-a, --user-agent <string>
  Add supplemental user agent string in p2p version message.

-t, --checkpoint
  Start chain sync from checkpoint.

-x, --prefix <directory name>
  Write/read state to/from disk in given directory.
-d, --daemon
  Fork and background the process.

-h, --help
  Help message.


Unit tests

The make command will output two binaries into the root directory: hnsd and test_hnsd, which is compiled from unit tests in the test/ directory. Run the tests with ./test_hnsd.

Integration tests

The integration/ directory contains a nodejs package that installs hsd and runs a bmocha test suite. hnsd is run using child_process.spawn() and tested by making DNS queries to its open ports.

hnsd MUST be built in regtest mode: ./configure --with-network=regtest

Build and run the integration tests (requires nodejs >= v16):

make e2e


npm --prefix ./integration install
npm --prefix ./integration run test


  • Copyright (c) 2018, Christopher Jeffrey (MIT License).

See LICENSE for more info.