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OpenLI -- open source ETSI-compliant Lawful Intercept software

Version: 1.0.1

Copyright (c) 2018, 2019 The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. All rights reserved.

This code has been developed by the University of Waikato WAND research group. For further information please see

OpenLI is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see


This software is provided AS-IS and offers no guarantee that it will able to completely satisfy your lawful intercept obligations. This version of the software is an initial release and we anticipate that there will still be many bugs and incompatibilities that we have not yet encountered in our testing so far. If you do encounter issues with the OpenLI software, please report them to us via our Github page ( so that we can continue to improve the quality of OpenLI for all of our users.


  • libtrace 4.0.5 or later (packages for Debian / Ubuntu are available from WAND as well).

  • libwandder 1.1.0 or later (packages for Debian / Ubuntu are available from WAND as well).

  • libyaml -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the libyaml-dev package. Required for all components.

  • libosip2 -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the libosip2-dev package. Only required for the collector.

  • uthash -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the uthash-dev package. Required for all components.

  • libzmq -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the libzmq3-dev package. Required for all components.

  • libJudy -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the libjudy-dev package. Required for the collector and the mediator.

  • libtcmalloc -- Debian / Ubuntu users can install the libgoogle-perftools-dev package. Optional, but highly recommended for performance reasons.

Building OpenLI

To build OpenLI from source, just follow the series of steps given below.

  1. Run the ./ script at the top level of the source tree (only required if you have cloned the OpenLI git repo).

  2. Run the ./configure script.

    If you wish to install OpenLI to a non-standard location (which is typically /usr/local/), append --prefix=<location> to the ./configure command.

    ./configure will fail if any of the required dependencies are missing. If you have installed any of the dependencies in non-standard locations, you may need to also tell ./configure where they are using the CFLAGS and LDFLAGS arguments. For example, if I had installed libtrace into the /home/wand/ directory, I would need to add CFLAGS="-I/home/wand/include" LDFLAGS="-L/home/wand/lib" to the ./configure command.

    To disable the building of any of the three core OpenLI components, you can add any of the following to your './configure' command.

  3. Run make.

  4. To install OpenLI on your system, run make install. If you haven't set the prefix in Step 2, you'll probably need to run this command as a superuser (e.g. sudo make install).

    This last step is optional -- the OpenLI software components should run without needing to be installed.

Running OpenLI

OpenLI consists of three software components: the provisioner, the collector and the mediator. In a typical deployment, you would have 1 provisioner, 1 mediator (although multiple mediators are supported) and multiple collectors (1 per interception point in your network).

The provisioner acts as a centralised controller for the OpenLI system. All other components report their presence to the provisioner, which then issues intercept instructions for the components to carry out. In the case of the collectors, these instructions will identify the interception target and detail which mediator should receive the intercept records from that target. For the mediator, the instructions will describe how to connect to the law enforcement agencies and which intercepts should be forwarded to each agency.

The mediator collates the intercept records produced by the collectors and forwards them to the appropriate agency via the handovers (HI2 and HI3, to use ETSI terminology). The mediator also maintains the TCP sessions for the agency handovers, including sending keep-alives when the handovers are otherwise idle.

The collector captures the packets that are observed on one or more network interfaces. If any of the packets is destined to or sent by an intercept target, the collector will encode the packet using the ETSI standard and forward the encoded packet onto a mediator as an intercept record. The collector also maintains all of the necessary internal state to map intercept targets (which are typically expressed as SIP URIs or ISP usernames) to their corresponding RTP or IP sessions. A collector can capture using multiple input sources (i.e. capture interfaces) and use multiple threads to spread the collection workload across multiple CPU cores.

More details on how to configure and run each component can be found in the relevant document in the doc/ directory included with the OpenLI source. Example configuration for each component is also included in this directory.

Changing configuration of a running OpenLI system

If you wish to make changes to the configuration of a running instance of OpenLI, sending a SIGHUP to any running OpenLI process will cause it to re-read its configuration file and apply any changes that have occurred. Any ongoing intercepts that have not been modified will continue uninterrupted.

In particular, this is the primary mechanism for adding and removing intercepts at the moment, e.g. to add an intercept, add it to the provisioner config file and send a SIGHUP to the OpenLI provisioner process. The provisioner will read the new intercept details from the config and push that out to all of the collectors and mediators that it is managing. Halting an intercept works much the same way, except you remove the intercept from the config file before sending SIGHUP to the provisioner.

Common problems with OpenLI

Q. OpenLI doesn't build or complains about unresolved symbols when I try to start one of the tools!

A. Unfortunately there are plenty of reasons why this might happen. Here are a few things you can try that might resolve your issue:

Q. My collector keeps logging messages "dropped X packets in last second".

A. This means that your collector is not keeping up with the number of packets that it is trying to intercept. This can be a tricky problem to solve.

If you have unused CPU cores, try increasing the number of threads used by the collector input that is handling your IP traffic. You can also try increasing the number of encoding threads used by the collector.

If the input source for your IP traffic is a standard network interface, you may want to consider using an Intel DPDK capable interface instead. This may require you to install a DPDK-supported NIC on your collector. See in the doc/ directory for more information on how to configure a DPDK interface for use with OpenLI.

Otherwise, your options are:

  • use more powerful hardware for your collector (more CPU cores generally helps most).

  • find a way to split the interception workload across multiple collectors (only if the workload is coming from multiple intercepts).

  • accept that your LI needs are too large to be handled by a simple open-source project and ask your vendors if they can supply you with a better solution.

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