ZeroTier - A Planetary Ethernet Switch
ZeroTier is an enterprise Ethernet switch for planet Earth.
It erases the LAN/WAN distinction and makes VPNs, tunnels, proxies, and other kludges arising from the inflexible nature of physical networks obsolete. Everything is encrypted end-to-end and traffic takes the most direct (peer to peer) path available.
ZeroTier's basic operation is easy to understand. Devices have 10-digit ZeroTier addresses like
89e92ceee5 and networks have 16-digit network IDs like
8056c2e21c000001. All it takes for a device to join a network is its 16-digit ID, and all it takes for a network to authorize a device is its 10-digit address. Everything else is automatic.
A "device" in our terminology is any "unit of compute" capable of talking to a network: desktops, laptops, phones, servers, VMs/VPSes, containers, and even user-space applications via our SDK.
For testing purposes we provide a public virtual network called Earth with network ID
8056c2e21c000001. You can join it with:
sudo zerotier-cli join 8056c2e21c000001
Now wait about 30 seconds and check your system with
ip addr list or
ifconfig. You'll see a new interface whose name starts with zt and it should quickly get an IPv4 and an IPv6 address. Once you see it get an IP, try pinging
126.96.36.199. If you've joined Earth from more than one system, try pinging your other machine. If you don't want to belong to a giant Ethernet party line anymore, just type:
sudo zerotier-cli leave 8056c2e21c000001
The zt interface will disappear. You're no longer on the network.
To create networks of your own, you'll need a network controller. ZeroTier One (for desktops and servers) includes controller functionality in its default build that can be configured via its JSON API (see README.md in controller/). ZeroTier provides a hosted solution with a nice web UI and SaaS add-ons at my.zerotier.com. Basic controller functionality is free for up to 100 devices.
artwork/: icons, logos, etc.
attic/: old stuff and experimental code that we want to keep around for reference.
controller/: the reference network controller implementation, which is built and included by default on desktop and server build targets.
debian/: files for building Debian packages on Linux.
doc/: manual pages and other documentation.
ext/: third party libraries, binaries that we ship for convenience on some platforms (Mac and Windows), and installation support files.
include/: include files for the ZeroTier core.
java/: a JNI wrapper used with our Android mobile app. (The whole Android app is not open source but may be made so in the future.)
macui/: a Macintosh menu-bar app for controlling ZeroTier One, written in Objective C.
node/: the ZeroTier virtual Ethernet switch core, which is designed to be entirely separate from the rest of the code and able to be built as a stand-alone OS-independent library. Note to developers: do not use C++11 features in here, since we want this to build on old embedded platforms that lack C++11 support. C++11 can be used elsewhere.
osdep/: code to support and integrate with OSes, including platform-specific stuff only built for certain targets.
service/: the ZeroTier One service, which wraps the ZeroTier core and provides VPN-like connectivity to virtual networks for desktops, laptops, servers, VMs, and containers.
tcp-proxy/: TCP proxy code run by ZeroTier, Inc. to provide TCP fallback (this will die soon!).
windows/: Visual Studio solution files, Windows service code for ZeroTier One, and the Windows task bar app UI.
The base path contains the ZeroTier One service main entry point (
one.cpp), self test code, makefiles, etc.
Build and Platform Notes
To build on Mac and Linux just type
make. On FreeBSD and OpenBSD
gmake (GNU make) is required and can be installed from packages or ports. For Windows there is a Visual Studio solution in `windows/'.
- Xcode command line tools for OSX 10.7 or newer are required.
- Tap device driver kext source is in
ext/tap-macand a signed pre-built binary can be found in
ext/bin/tap-mac. You should not need to build it yourself. It's a fork of tuntaposx with device names changed to
zt#, support for a larger MTU, and tun functionality removed.
- The minimum compiler versions required are GCC/G++ 4.9.3 or CLANG/CLANG++ 3.4.2.
- Linux makefiles automatically detect and prefer clang/clang++ if present as it produces smaller and slightly faster binaries in most cases. You can override by supplying CC and CXX variables on the make command line.
- CentOS 7 ships with a version of GCC/G++ that is too old, but a new enough version of CLANG can be found in the epel repositories. Type
yum install epel-releaseand then
yum install clangto build there.
- Windows 7 or newer (and equivalent server versions) are supported. This may work on Vista but you're on your own there. Windows XP is not supported since it lacks many important network API functions.
- We build with Visual Studio 2015. Older versions may not work with the solution file and project files we ship and may not have new enough C++11 support.
- Pre-built signed Windows drivers are included in
ext/bin/tap-windows-ndis6. The MSI files found there will install them on 32-bit and 64-bit systems. (These are included in our multi-architecture installer as chained MSIs.)
- Windows builds are more painful in general than other platforms and are for the adventurous.
- Tested most recently on FreeBSD-11. Older versions may work but we're not sure.
- GCC/G++ 4.9 and gmake are required. These can be installed from packages or ports. Type
- There is a limit of four network memberships on OpenBSD as there are only four tap devices (
/dev/tap3). We're not sure if this can be increased.
- OpenBSD lacks
getifmaddrs(or any equivalent method) to get interface multicast memberships. As a result multicast will only work on OpenBSD for ARP and NDP (IP/MAC lookup) and not for other purposes.
- Only tested on OpenBSD 6.0. Older versions may not work.
- GCC/G++ 4.9 and gmake are required and can be installed using
pkg_addor from ports. They get installed in
eg++and our makefile is pre-configured to use them on OpenBSD.
- There is a limit of four network memberships on OpenBSD as there are only four tap devices (
make selftest will build a zerotier-selftest binary which unit tests various internals and reports on a few aspects of the build environment. It's a good idea to try this on novel platforms or architectures.
Running zerotier-one with -h will show help.
On Linux and BSD you can start the service with:
sudo ./zerotier-one -d
A home folder for your system will automatically be created.
The service is controlled via the JSON API, which by default is available at 127.0.0.1 port 9993. We include a zerotier-cli command line utility to make API calls for standard things like joining and leaving networks. The authtoken.secret file in the home folder contains the secret token for accessing this API. See README.md in service/ for API documentation.
Here's where home folders live (by default) on each OS:
- FreeBSD / OpenBSD:
\ProgramData\ZeroTier\One(That's for Windows 7. The base 'shared app data' folder might be different on different Windows versions.)
Running ZeroTier One on a Mac is the same, but OSX requires a kernel extension. We ship a signed binary build of the ZeroTier tap device driver, which can be installed on Mac with:
sudo make install-mac-tap
This will create the home folder for Mac, place tap.kext there, and set its modes correctly to enable ZeroTier One to manage it with kextload and kextunload.
For most users, it just works.
If you are running a local system firewall, we recommend adding a rule permitting UDP port 9993 inbound and outbound. If you installed binaries for Windows this should be done automatically. Other platforms might require manual editing of local firewall rules depending on your configuration.
The Mac firewall can be found under "Security" in System Preferences. Linux has a variety of firewall configuration systems and tools. If you're using Ubuntu's ufw, you can do this:
sudo ufw allow 9993/udp
On CentOS check
/etc/sysconfig/iptables for IPTables rules. For other distributions consult your distribution's documentation. You'll also have to check the UIs or documentation for commercial third party firewall applications like Little Snitch (Mac), McAfee Firewall Enterprise (Windows), etc. if you are running any of those. Some corporate environments might have centrally managed firewall software, so you might also have to contact IT.
ZeroTier One peers will automatically locate each other and communicate directly over a local wired LAN if UDP port 9993 inbound is open. If that port is filtered, they won't be able to see each others' LAN announcement packets. If you're experiencing poor performance between devices on the same physical network, check their firewall settings. Without LAN auto-location peers must attempt "loopback" NAT traversal, which sometimes fails and in any case requires that every packet traverse your external router twice.
Users behind certain types of firewalls and "symmetric" NAT devices may not able able to connect to external peers directly at all. ZeroTier has limited support for port prediction and will attempt to traverse symmetric NATs, but this doesn't always work. If P2P connectivity fails you'll be bouncing UDP packets off our relay servers resulting in slower performance. Some NAT router(s) have a configurable NAT mode, and setting this to "full cone" will eliminate this problem. If you do this you may also see a magical improvement for things like VoIP phones, Skype, BitTorrent, WebRTC, certain games, etc., since all of these use NAT traversal techniques similar to ours.
If you're interested, there's a technical deep dive about NAT traversal on our blog. A troubleshooting tool to help you diagnose NAT issues is planned for the future as are uPnP/IGD/NAT-PMP and IPv6 transport.
If a firewall between you and the Internet blocks ZeroTier's UDP traffic, you will fall back to last-resort TCP tunneling to rootservers over port 443 (https impersonation). This will work almost anywhere but is very slow compared to UDP or direct peer to peer connectivity.
Please make pull requests against the
dev branch. The
master branch is release, and
edge is for unstable and work in progress changes and is not likely to work.
The ZeroTier source code is open source and is licensed under the GNU GPL v3 (not LGPL). If you'd like to embed it in a closed-source commercial product or appliance, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss commercial licensing. Otherwise it can be used for free.