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Overview

This document explains how to enable VoIP relaying on your homeserver with TURN.

The synapse Matrix homeserver supports integration with TURN server via the TURN server REST API. This allows the homeserver to generate credentials that are valid for use on the TURN server through the use of a secret shared between the homeserver and the TURN server.

The following sections describe how to install coturn (which implements the TURN REST API) and integrate it with synapse.

Requirements

For TURN relaying with coturn to work, it must be hosted on a server/endpoint with a public IP.

Hosting TURN behind NAT requires port forwaring and for the NAT gateway to have a public IP. However, even with appropriate configuration, NAT is known to cause issues and to often not work.

coturn setup

Initial installation

The TURN daemon coturn is available from a variety of sources such as native package managers, or installation from source.

Debian installation

Just install the debian package:

apt install coturn

This will install and start a systemd service called coturn.

Source installation

  1. Download the latest release from github. Unpack it and cd into the directory.

  2. Configure it:

    ./configure

    You may need to install libevent2: if so, you should do so in the way recommended by your operating system. You can ignore warnings about lack of database support: a database is unnecessary for this purpose.

  3. Build and install it:

    make
    make install

Configuration

  1. Create or edit the config file in /etc/turnserver.conf. The relevant lines, with example values, are:

    use-auth-secret
    static-auth-secret=[your secret key here]
    realm=turn.myserver.org
    

    See turnserver.conf for explanations of the options. One way to generate the static-auth-secret is with pwgen:

    pwgen -s 64 1

    A realm must be specified, but its value is somewhat arbitrary. (It is sent to clients as part of the authentication flow.) It is conventional to set it to be your server name.

  2. You will most likely want to configure coturn to write logs somewhere. The easiest way is normally to send them to the syslog:

    syslog

    (in which case, the logs will be available via journalctl -u coturn on a systemd system). Alternatively, coturn can be configured to write to a logfile - check the example config file supplied with coturn.

  3. Consider your security settings. TURN lets users request a relay which will connect to arbitrary IP addresses and ports. The following configuration is suggested as a minimum starting point:

    # VoIP traffic is all UDP. There is no reason to let users connect to arbitrary TCP endpoints via the relay.
    no-tcp-relay
    
    # don't let the relay ever try to connect to private IP address ranges within your network (if any)
    # given the turn server is likely behind your firewall, remember to include any privileged public IPs too.
    denied-peer-ip=10.0.0.0-10.255.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=192.168.0.0-192.168.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=172.16.0.0-172.31.255.255
    
    # recommended additional local peers to block, to mitigate external access to internal services.
    # https://www.rtcsec.com/article/slack-webrtc-turn-compromise-and-bug-bounty/#how-to-fix-an-open-turn-relay-to-address-this-vulnerability
    no-multicast-peers
    denied-peer-ip=0.0.0.0-0.255.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=100.64.0.0-100.127.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=127.0.0.0-127.255.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=169.254.0.0-169.254.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=192.0.0.0-192.0.0.255
    denied-peer-ip=192.0.2.0-192.0.2.255
    denied-peer-ip=192.88.99.0-192.88.99.255
    denied-peer-ip=198.18.0.0-198.19.255.255
    denied-peer-ip=198.51.100.0-198.51.100.255
    denied-peer-ip=203.0.113.0-203.0.113.255
    denied-peer-ip=240.0.0.0-255.255.255.255
    
    # special case the turn server itself so that client->TURN->TURN->client flows work
    # this should be one of the turn server's listening IPs
    allowed-peer-ip=10.0.0.1
    
    # consider whether you want to limit the quota of relayed streams per user (or total) to avoid risk of DoS.
    user-quota=12 # 4 streams per video call, so 12 streams = 3 simultaneous relayed calls per user.
    total-quota=1200
    
  4. Also consider supporting TLS/DTLS. To do this, add the following settings to turnserver.conf:

    # TLS certificates, including intermediate certs.
    # For Let's Encrypt certificates, use `fullchain.pem` here.
    cert=/path/to/fullchain.pem
    
    # TLS private key file
    pkey=/path/to/privkey.pem
    
    # Ensure the configuration lines that disable TLS/DTLS are commented-out or removed
    #no-tls
    #no-dtls
    

    In this case, replace the turn: schemes in the turn_uris settings below with turns:.

    We recommend that you only try to set up TLS/DTLS once you have set up a basic installation and got it working.

    NB: If your TLS certificate was provided by Let's Encrypt, TLS/DTLS will not work with any Matrix client that uses Chromium's WebRTC library. This currently includes Element Android & iOS; for more details, see their respective issues as well as the underlying WebRTC issue. Consider using a ZeroSSL certificate for your TURN server as a working alternative.

  5. Ensure your firewall allows traffic into the TURN server on the ports you've configured it to listen on (By default: 3478 and 5349 for TURN traffic (remember to allow both TCP and UDP traffic), and ports 49152-65535 for the UDP relay.)

  6. If your TURN server is behind NAT, the NAT gateway must have an external, publicly-reachable IP address. You must configure coturn to advertise that address to connecting clients:

    external-ip=EXTERNAL_NAT_IPv4_ADDRESS
    

    You may optionally limit the TURN server to listen only on the local address that is mapped by NAT to the external address:

    listening-ip=INTERNAL_TURNSERVER_IPv4_ADDRESS
    

    If your NAT gateway is reachable over both IPv4 and IPv6, you may configure coturn to advertise each available address:

    external-ip=EXTERNAL_NAT_IPv4_ADDRESS
    external-ip=EXTERNAL_NAT_IPv6_ADDRESS
    

    When advertising an external IPv6 address, ensure that the firewall and network settings of the system running your TURN server are configured to accept IPv6 traffic, and that the TURN server is listening on the local IPv6 address that is mapped by NAT to the external IPv6 address.

  7. (Re)start the turn server:

    • If you used the Debian package (or have set up a systemd unit yourself):

      systemctl restart coturn
    • If you installed from source:

      bin/turnserver -o

Synapse setup

Your homeserver configuration file needs the following extra keys:

  1. "turn_uris": This needs to be a yaml list of public-facing URIs for your TURN server to be given out to your clients. Add separate entries for each transport your TURN server supports.
  2. "turn_shared_secret": This is the secret shared between your homeserver and your TURN server, so you should set it to the same string you used in turnserver.conf.
  3. "turn_user_lifetime": This is the amount of time credentials generated by your homeserver are valid for (in milliseconds). Shorter times offer less potential for abuse at the expense of increased traffic between web clients and your homeserver to refresh credentials. The TURN REST API specification recommends one day (86400000).
  4. "turn_allow_guests": Whether to allow guest users to use the TURN server. This is enabled by default, as otherwise VoIP will not work reliably for guests. However, it does introduce a security risk as it lets guests connect to arbitrary endpoints without having gone through a CAPTCHA or similar to register a real account.

As an example, here is the relevant section of the config file for matrix.org. The turn_uris are appropriate for TURN servers listening on the default ports, with no TLS.

turn_uris: [ "turn:turn.matrix.org?transport=udp", "turn:turn.matrix.org?transport=tcp" ]
turn_shared_secret: "n0t4ctuAllymatr1Xd0TorgSshar3d5ecret4obvIousreAsons"
turn_user_lifetime: 86400000
turn_allow_guests: True

After updating the homeserver configuration, you must restart synapse:

  • If you use synctl:
    # Depending on how Synapse is installed, synctl may already be on
    # your PATH. If not, you may need to activate a virtual environment.
    synctl restart
  • If you use systemd:
    systemctl restart matrix-synapse.service

... and then reload any clients (or wait an hour for them to refresh their settings).

Troubleshooting

The normal symptoms of a misconfigured TURN server are that calls between devices on different networks ring, but get stuck at "call connecting". Unfortunately, troubleshooting this can be tricky.

Here are a few things to try:

  • Check that you have opened your firewall to allow TCP and UDP traffic to the TURN ports (normally 3478 and 5349).

  • Check that you have opened your firewall to allow UDP traffic to the UDP relay ports (49152-65535 by default).

  • Try disabling coturn's TLS/DTLS listeners and enable only its (unencrypted) TCP/UDP listeners. (This will only leave signaling traffic unencrypted; voice & video WebRTC traffic is always encrypted.)

  • Some WebRTC implementations (notably, that of Google Chrome) appear to get confused by TURN servers which are reachable over IPv6 (this appears to be an unexpected side-effect of its handling of multiple IP addresses as defined by draft-ietf-rtcweb-ip-handling).

    Try removing any AAAA records for your TURN server, so that it is only reachable over IPv4.

  • If your TURN server is behind NAT:

    • double-check that your NAT gateway is correctly forwarding all TURN ports (normally 3478 & 5349 for TCP & UDP TURN traffic, and 49152-65535 for the UDP relay) to the NAT-internal address of your TURN server. If advertising both IPv4 and IPv6 external addresses via the external-ip option, ensure that the NAT is forwarding both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic to the IPv4 and IPv6 internal addresses of your TURN server. When in doubt, remove AAAA records for your TURN server and specify only an IPv4 address as your external-ip.

    • ensure that your TURN server uses the NAT gateway as its default route.

  • Enable more verbose logging in coturn via the verbose setting:

    verbose
    

    ... and then see if there are any clues in its logs.

  • If you are using a browser-based client under Chrome, check chrome://webrtc-internals/ for insights into the internals of the negotiation. On Firefox, check the "Connection Log" on about:webrtc.

    (Understanding the output is beyond the scope of this document!)

  • You can test your Matrix homeserver TURN setup with https://test.voip.librepush.net/. Note that this test is not fully reliable yet, so don't be discouraged if the test fails. Here is the github repo of the source of the tester, where you can file bug reports.

  • There is a WebRTC test tool at https://webrtc.github.io/samples/src/content/peerconnection/trickle-ice/. To use it, you will need a username/password for your TURN server. You can either:

    • look for the GET /_matrix/client/r0/voip/turnServer request made by a matrix client to your homeserver in your browser's network inspector. In the response you should see username and password. Or:

    • Use the following shell commands:

      secret=staticAuthSecretHere
      
      u=$((`date +%s` + 3600)):test
      p=$(echo -n $u | openssl dgst -hmac $secret -sha1 -binary | base64)
      echo -e "username: $u\npassword: $p"

      Or:

    • Temporarily configure coturn to accept a static username/password. To do this, comment out use-auth-secret and static-auth-secret and add the following:

      lt-cred-mech
      user=username:password
      

      Note: these settings will not take effect unless use-auth-secret and static-auth-secret are disabled.

      Restart coturn after changing the configuration file.

      Remember to restore the original settings to go back to testing with Matrix clients!

    If the TURN server is working correctly, you should see at least one relay entry in the results.