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Experimental features of go-ipfs

This document contains a list of experimental features in go-ipfs. These features, commands, and APIs aren't mature, and you shouldn't rely on them. Once they reach maturity, there's going to be mention in the changelog and release posts. If they don't reach maturity, the same applies, and their code is removed.

Subscribe to https://github.com/ipfs/go-ipfs/issues/3397 to get updates.

When you add a new experimental feature to go-ipfs, or change an experimental feature, you MUST please make a PR updating this document, and link the PR in the above issue.


ipfs pubsub

State

experimental, default-disabled.

In Version

0.4.5

How to enable

run your daemon with the --enable-pubsub-experiment flag. Then use the ipfs pubsub commands.

gossipsub

Gossipsub is a new, experimental routing protocol for pubsub that should waste less bandwidth than floodsub, the current pubsub protocol. It's backwards compatible with floodsub so enabling this feature shouldn't break compatibility with existing IPFS nodes.

You can enable gossipsub via configuration: ipfs config Pubsub.Router gossipsub

Message Signing

As of 0.4.18, go-ipfs signs all pubsub messages by default. For now, it doesn't reject unsigned messages but it will in the future.

You can turn off message signing (not recommended unless you're using a private network) by running: ipfs config Pubsub.DisableSigning true

You can turn on strict signature verification (require that all messages be signed) by running: ipfs config Pubsub.StrictSignatureVerification true

(this last option will be set to true by default and eventually removed entirely)

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works
  • Needs authenticated modes to be implemented
  • needs performance analyses to be done

Client mode DHT routing

Allows the dht to be run in a mode that doesn't serve requests to the network, saving bandwidth.

State

experimental.

In Version

0.4.5

How to enable

run your daemon with the --routing=dhtclient flag.

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works.
  • Needs analysis of effect it has on the network as a whole.

go-multiplex stream muxer

Adds support for using the go-multiplex stream muxer alongside (or instead of) yamux and spdy. This multiplexer is far simpler, and uses less memory and bandwidth than the others, but is lacking on congestion control and backpressure logic. It is available to try out and experiment with.

State

Experimental

In Version

0.4.5

How to enable

run your daemon with --enable-mplex-experiment

To make it the default stream muxer, set the environment variable LIBP2P_MUX_PREFS as follows:

export LIBP2P_MUX_PREFS="/mplex/6.7.0 /yamux/1.0.0 /spdy/3.1.0"

To check which stream muxer is being used between any two given peers, check the json output of the ipfs swarm peers command, you'll see something like this:

$ ipfs swarm peers -v --enc=json | jq .
{
  "Peers": [
    {
      "Addr": "/ip4/104.131.131.82/tcp/4001",
      "Peer": "QmaCpDMGvV2BGHeYERUEnRQAwe3N8SzbUtfsmvsqQLuvuJ",
      "Latency": "46.032624ms",
      "Muxer": "*peerstream_multiplex.conn",
      "Streams": [
        {
          "Protocol": "/ipfs/bitswap/1.1.0"
        },
        {
          "Protocol": "/ipfs/kad/1.0.0"
        },
        {
          "Protocol": "/ipfs/kad/1.0.0"
        }
      ]
    },
    {
...

Road to being a real feature

  • Significant real world testing and performance metrics across a wide variety of workloads showing that it works well.

Raw Leaves for unixfs files

Allows files to be added with no formatting in the leaf nodes of the graph.

State

experimental.

In Version

master, 0.4.5

How to enable

Use --raw-leaves flag when calling ipfs add.

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works.

ipfs filestore

Allows files to be added without duplicating the space they take up on disk.

State

experimental.

In Version

master, 0.4.7

How to enable

Modify your ipfs config:

ipfs config --json Experimental.FilestoreEnabled true

And then pass the --nocopy flag when running ipfs add

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works.
  • Need to address error states and failure conditions
  • Need to write docs on usage, advantages, disadvantages
  • Need to merge utility commands to aid in maintenance and repair of filestore

ipfs urlstore

Allows ipfs to retrieve blocks contents via a url instead of storing it in the datastore

State

experimental.

In Version

master, v0.4.17

How to enable

Modify your ipfs config:

ipfs config --json Experimental.UrlstoreEnabled true

And then add a file at a specific URL using ipfs urlstore add <url>

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works.
  • Need to address error states and failure conditions
  • Need to write docs on usage, advantages, disadvantages
  • Need to implement caching
  • Need to add metrics to monitor performance

Private Networks

Allows ipfs to only connect to other peers who have a shared secret key.

State

Experimental

In Version

master, 0.4.7

How to enable

Generate a pre-shared-key using ipfs-swarm-key-gen):

go get github.com/Kubuxu/go-ipfs-swarm-key-gen/ipfs-swarm-key-gen
ipfs-swarm-key-gen > ~/.ipfs/swarm.key

To join a given private network, get the key file from someone in the network and save it to ~/.ipfs/swarm.key (If you are using a custom $IPFS_PATH, put it in there instead).

When using this feature, you will not be able to connect to the default bootstrap nodes (Since we aren't part of your private network) so you will need to set up your own bootstrap nodes.

First, to prevent your node from even trying to connect to the default bootstrap nodes, run:

ipfs bootstrap rm --all

Then add your own bootstrap peers with:

ipfs bootstrap add <multiaddr>

For example:

ipfs bootstrap add /ip4/104.236.76.40/tcp/4001/ipfs/QmSoLV4Bbm51jM9C4gDYZQ9Cy3U6aXMJDAbzgu2fzaDs64

Bootstrap nodes are no different from all other nodes in the network apart from the function they serve.

To be extra cautious, You can also set the LIBP2P_FORCE_PNET environment variable to 1 to force the usage of private networks. If no private network is configured, the daemon will fail to start.

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works
  • More documentation

ipfs p2p

Allows tunneling of TCP connections through Libp2p streams. If you've ever used port forwarding with SSH (the -L option in openssh), this feature is quite similar.

State

Experimental

In Version

master, 0.4.10

How to enable

The p2p command needs to be enabled in config:

> ipfs config --json Experimental.Libp2pStreamMounting true

How to use

Netcat example:

First, pick a protocol name for your application. Think of the protocol name as a port number, just significantly more user-friendly. In this example, we're going to use /x/kickass/1.0.

Setup:

  1. A "server" node with peer ID $SERVER_ID
  2. A "client" node.

On the "server" node:

First, start your application and have it listen for TCP connections on port $APP_PORT.

Then, configure the p2p listener by running:

> ipfs p2p listen /x/kickass/1.0 /ip4/127.0.0.1/tcp/$APP_PORT

This will configure IPFS to forward all incoming /x/kickass/1.0 streams to 127.0.0.1:$APP_PORT (opening a new connection to 127.0.0.1:$APP_PORT per incoming stream.

On the "client" node:

First, configure the client p2p dialer, so that it forwards all inbound connections on 127.0.0.1:SOME_PORT to the server node listening on /x/kickass/1.0.

> ipfs p2p forward /x/kickass/1.0 /ip4/127.0.0.1/tcp/$SOME_PORT /ipfs/$SERVER_ID

Next, have your application open a connection to 127.0.0.1:$SOME_PORT. This connection will be forwarded to the service running on 127.0.0.1:$APP_PORT on the remote machine. You can test it with netcat:

On "server" node:

> nc -v -l -p $APP_PORT

On "client" node:

> nc -v 127.0.0.1 $SOME_PORT

You should now see that a connection has been established and be able to exchange messages between netcat instances.

(note that depending on your netcat version you may need to drop the -v flag)

SSH example

Setup:

  1. A "server" node with peer ID $SERVER_ID and running ssh server on the default port.
  2. A "client" node.

you can get $SERVER_ID by running ipfs id -f "<id>\n"

First, on the "server" node:

ipfs p2p listen /x/ssh /ip4/127.0.0.1/tcp/22

Then, on "client" node:

ipfs p2p forward /x/ssh /ip4/127.0.0.1/tcp/2222 /ipfs/$SERVER_ID

You should now be able to connect to your ssh server through a libp2p connection with ssh [user]@127.0.0.1 -p 2222.

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works / fits use cases
  • More documentation
  • Support other protocols (e.g, unix domain sockets, websockets, etc.)

Circuit Relay

Allows peers to connect through an intermediate relay node when there is no direct connectivity.

State

Experimental

In Version

master, 0.4.11

How to enable

The relay transport is enabled by default, which allows peers to dial through relay and listens for incoming relay connections. The transport can be disabled by setting Swarm.DisableRelay = true in the configuration.

By default, peers don't act as intermediate nodes (relays). This can be enabled by setting Swarm.EnableRelayHop = true in the configuration. Note that the option needs to be set before online services are started to have an effect; an already online node would have to be restarted.

Basic Usage:

In order to connect peers QmA and QmB through a relay node QmRelay:

  • Both peers should connect to the relay: ipfs swarm connect /transport/address/ipfs/QmRelay
  • Peer QmA can then connect to peer QmB using the relay: ipfs swarm connect /ipfs/QmRelay/p2p-circuit/ipfs/QmB

Peers can also connect with an unspecific relay address, which will try to dial through known relays: ipfs swarm connect /p2p-circuit/ipfs/QmB

Peers can see their (unspecific) relay address in the output of ipfs swarm addrs listen

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use it and report on how well it works.
  • Advertise relay addresses to the DHT for NATed or otherwise unreachable peers.
  • Active relay discovery for specific relay address advertisement. We would like advertised relay addresses to designate specific relays for efficient dialing.
  • Dialing priorities for relay addresses; arguably, relay addresses should have lower priority than direct dials.

Plugins

In Version

0.4.11

State

Experimental

Plugins allow to add functionality without the need to recompile the daemon.

Basic Usage:

See Plugin docs

Road to being a real feature

  • Better support for platforms other than Linux
  • More plugins and plugin types
  • Feedback on stability

Badger datastore

In Version

0.4.11

Badger-ds is new datastore implementation based on https://github.com/dgraph-io/badger

Basic Usage

$ ipfs init --profile=badgerds

or

[BACKUP ~/.ipfs]
$ ipfs config profile apply badgerds
$ ipfs-ds-convert convert

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more testing
  • Make sure there are no unknown major problems

Directory Sharding / HAMT

In Version

0.4.8

State

Experimental

Allows to create directories with unlimited number of entries - currently size of unixfs directories is limited by the maximum block size

Basic Usage:

ipfs config --json Experimental.ShardingEnabled true

Road to being a real feature

  • Make sure that objects that don't have to be sharded aren't
  • Generalize sharding and define a new layer between IPLD and IPFS

IPNS pubsub

In Version

0.4.14

State

Experimental, default-disabled.

Utilizes pubsub for publishing ipns records in real time.

When it is enabled:

  • IPNS publishers push records to a name-specific pubsub topic, in addition to publishing to the DHT.
  • IPNS resolvers subscribe to the name-specific topic on first resolution and receive subsequently published records through pubsub in real time. This makes subsequent resolutions instant, as they are resolved through the local cache. Note that the initial resolution still goes through the DHT, as there is no message history in pubsub.

Both the publisher and the resolver nodes need to have the feature enabled for it to work effectively.

How to enable

run your daemon with the --enable-namesys-pubsub flag; enables pubsub.

Road to being a real feature

  • Needs more people to use and report on how well it works
  • Add a mechanism for last record distribution on subscription, so that we don't have to hit the DHT for the initial resolution. Alternatively, we could republish the last record periodically.

QUIC

In Version

0.4.18

State

Experiment, disabled by default

How to enable

Modify your ipfs config:

ipfs config --json Experimental.QUIC true

For listening on a QUIC address, add it the swarm addresses, e.g. /ip4/0.0.0.0/udp/4001/quic.

Road to being a real feature

  • The IETF QUIC specification needs to be finalised.
  • Make sure QUIC connections work reliably
  • Make sure QUIC connection offer equal or better performance than TCP connections on real world networks
  • Finalize libp2p-TLS handshake spec.