[Bitcoin-development] Zero-Conf for Full Node Discovery

Matt Whitlock bip at mattwhitlock.name
Tue May 26 05:47:37 UTC 2015

On Tuesday, 26 May 2015, at 1:15 am, Peter Todd wrote:
> On Tue, May 26, 2015 at 12:52:07AM -0400, Matt Whitlock wrote:
> > On Monday, 25 May 2015, at 11:48 pm, Jim Phillips wrote:
> > > Do any wallets actually do this yet?
> > 
> > Not that I know of, but they do seed their address database via DNS, which you can poison if you control the LAN's DNS resolver. I did this for a Bitcoin-only Wi-Fi network I operated at a remote festival. We had well over a hundred lightweight wallets, all trying to connect to the Bitcoin P2P network over a very bandwidth-constrained Internet link, so I poisoned the DNS and rejected all outbound connection attempts on port 8333, to force all the wallets to connect to a single local full node, which had connectivity to a single remote node over the Internet. Thus, all the lightweight wallets at the festival had Bitcoin network connectivity, but we only needed to backhaul the Bitcoin network's transaction traffic once.
> Interesting!
> What festival was this?

The Porcupine Freedom Festival ("PorcFest") in New Hampshire last summer. I strongly suspect that it's the largest gathering of Bitcoin users at any event that is not specifically Bitcoin-themed. There's a lot of overlap between the Bitcoin and liberty communities. PorcFest draws somewhere around 1000-2000 attendees, a solid quarter of whom have Bitcoin wallets on their mobile devices.

The backhaul was a 3G cellular Internet connection, and the local Bitcoin node and network router were hosted on a Raspberry Pi with some Netfilter tricks to restrict connectivity. The net result was that all Bitcoin nodes (lightweight and heavyweight) on the local Wi-Fi network were unable to connect to any Bitcoin nodes except for the local node, which they discovered via DNS. I also had provisions in place to allow outbound connectivity to the API servers for Mycelium, Blockchain, and Coinbase wallets, by feeding the DNS resolver's results in real-time into a whitelisting Netfilter rule utilizing IP Sets.

For your amusement, here's the graphic for the banner that I had made to advertise the network at the festival (*chuckle*): http://www.mattwhitlock.com/bitcoin_wifi.png

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