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Frequently asked questions

Do I need to have a port opened?

This is optional, you can browse and use ZeroNet sites without an open port. If you want to create a new site it's highly recommended to have an open port.

At startup ZeroNet tries to open a port for you on your router using UPnP, if this fails you have to do it manually:

If it still doesn't work then try to find a 'port forwarding' section of your router page. This is different for every router. Here is a tutorial on YouTube. The port to forward is 15441.


Is ZeroNet anonymous?

It's no more anonymous than BitTorrent, but privacy (the possibility to find out who is the owner of the comment/site) will increase as the network and the sites gains more peers.

ZeroNet is made to work with anonymity networks: you can easily hide your IP using the Tor network.


How to use ZeroNet with the Tor browser?

In Tor mode it is recommended to use ZeroNet from within the Tor Browser:

  • Start the Tor Browser
  • Go to address about:preferences#advanced
  • Click Settings...
  • Enter 127.0.0.1 to field No proxy for
  • Open http://127.0.0.1:43110 in the browser

If you still see a blank page: - Click on NoScript's button (first on the toolbar) - Choose "Temporary allow all this page" - Reload the page


How to use ZeroNet with Tor?

If you want to hide your IP address, install the latest version of ZeroNet then click Tor > Enable Tor for every connection on ZeroHello.

On Windows, Tor is bundled with ZeroNet. ZeroNet will attempt to download and unpack Tor on its first run. If this fails for any reason, you can install it manually following the instruction in core\tools\tor\manual_install.txt.

For other OS's, follow the instructions in the "How to make ZeroNet work with Tor under Linux/MacOS" section.

Tip: You can verify your IP address using ZeroNet's Stats page.

Tip: If you get connection errors, make sure you have the latest version of Tor installed. (0.2.7.5+ required)


How to make ZeroNet work with Tor under Linux/MacOS?

  • Install Tor for your OS following Tor's official guidelines: Linux Mac.
  • sudo nano /etc/tor/torrc
  • Remove the # character from lines ControlPort 9051 and CookieAuthentication 1 (line ~57)
  • Restart tor
  • Add permission for yourself to read the auth cookie. With Debian Linux, the command is sudo usermod -a -G debian-tor [yourlinuxuser]
    (if you are not on Debian check the file's user group by ls -al /var/run/tor/control.authcookie)
  • Logout/Login with your user to apply group changes

Tip: You can verify if your Tor setup is running correctly using echo 'PROTOCOLINFO' | nc 127.0.0.1 9051

Tip: It's also possible to use Tor without modifying torrc (or to use older versions of Tor clients), by running zeronet.py --tor disable --proxy 127.0.0.1:9050 --disable_udp, but then you will lose ability to talk with other .onion addresses.


Is it possible to use a configuration file?

Any command line configuration flag can also be used as a configuration option. Place these options line-by-line into a file called zeronet.conf in your top-level zeronet directory (the one with zeronet.py). Example:

[global]
data_dir = my-data-dir
log_dir = my-log-dir
ui_restrict =
 1.2.3.4
 2.3.4.5

To list possible options, use the zeronet.py --help command


How to make Tor work if my ISP or goverment blocks it?

ZeroNet does not include Tor pluggable transports yet. The easiest way to make Tor work in a censored network is to start the Tor browser, configure it to connect to the Tor network with working pluggable transports, and modify ZeroNet's config to use Tor browser's proxy and control port by starting ZeroNet with --tor_controller 127.0.0.1:9151 --tor_proxy 127.0.0.1:9150 or by adding these parameters to zeronet.conf.

[global]
tor_controller = 127.0.0.1:9151
tor_proxy = 127.0.0.1:9150

Can I use the same username on multiple machines?

Yes, simply copy the data/users.json file to your new machine.


How to create a "fancy" (non .bit) site address?

Use vanitygen to generate one. Once you get your keys, create data/1YourPublicKey...tCkBzAXTKvJk4uj8 directory. Put some files there.

Then navigate to http://127.0.0.1:43110/1YourPublicKey...tCkBzAXTKvJk4uj8/. Drag the 0 button to the left and use the sidebar to sign your site.


How can I register a .bit domain?

You can register .bit domains using Namecoin. Manage your domains using the client's GUI or by the command line interface.

After the registration is done you have to edit your domain's record by adding a zeronet section to it, e.g.:

{
...
    "zeronet": {
        "": "1EU1tbG9oC1A8jz2ouVwGZyQ5asrNsE4Vr",
        "blog": "1BLogC9LN4oPDcruNz3qo1ysa133E9AGg8",
        "talk": "1TaLk3zM7ZRskJvrh3ZNCDVGXvkJusPKQ"
    },
...
}

An empty string ("") means the top domain, anything other than that is a sub-domain.

Tip: You can buy Namecoin for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies using shapeshift.io.

Tip: Other possibilities to register .bit domains: domaincoin.net, peername.com, dotbit.me

Tip: You can verify your domain on namecha.in, for example: zeroid.bit

Tip: You should use only lower-cased letters, numbers and - in your domains.

Tip: To make ZeroHello display your domain name instead of your site's Bitcoin address, add a domain key to your content.json. (Example)


Can I use the generated site address/private key to accept Bitcoin payments?

Yes, it's a standard Bitcoin address. The private key is WIF formatted, so you can import it in most clients.

Tip: It's not recommended to keep a high amount of money on your site's address, because you have to enter your private key every time you modify your site.


What happens when someone hosts malicious content?

The ZeroNet sites are sandboxed, they have the same privileges as any other website you visit over the Internet. You are in full control of what you are hosting. If you find suspicious content you can stop hosting the site at any time.


Is it possible to install ZeroNet to a remote machine?

Yes, you have to enable the UiPassword plugin by renaming the plugins/disabled-UiPassword directory to plugins/UiPassword, then start ZeroNet on the remote machine using
zeronet.py --ui_ip "*" --ui_password anypassword. This will bind the ZeroNet UI webserver to all interfaces, but to keep it secure you can only access it by entering the given password.

Tip: You can also restrict the interface based on ip address by using --ui_restrict ip1 ip2.

Tip: You can specify the password in the config file by creating a zeronet.conf file and adding [global] and ui_password = anypassword lines to it.


Is there any way to track the bandwidth ZeroNet is using?

The sent/received bytes are displayed at ZeroNet's sidebar.
(open it by dragging the topright 0 button to left)

Tip: Per connection statistics page: http://127.0.0.1:43110/Stats


What happens if two people use the same keys to modify a site?

Every content.json file is timestamped, the clients always accept the newest one with a valid signature.


Does ZeroNet use Bitcoin's blockchain?

No, ZeroNet only uses the cryptography of Bitcoin for site addresses and content signing/verification. User identification is based on Bitcoin's BIP32 format.

Namecoin's blockchain is being used for domain registrations, however clients do not download the blockchain. Blockchain metadata is instead passed over the ZeroNet network.


Does ZeroNet only support HTML, CSS websites?

ZeroNet is built for dynamic, real-time updated websites, but you can serve any kind of files using it, such as (VCS repositories, your own thin-client, database, etc.


How can I create a new ZeroNet site?

Follow these instructions.


What happens when I access a site?

  • When you want to open a new site it asks for visitor's IP addresses from BitTorrent trackers.
  • Initially, a file named content.json is downloaded, which holds all other filenames, hashes and the site owner's cryptographic signature.
  • The downloaded content.json file is verified using the site's address and the site owner's signature from the file.
  • Other files (html, css, js...) are then downloaded and verified using their size and SHA512 hash from content.json.
  • Each visited site then becomes also served by you.
  • If the site owner (who has the private key for the site address) modifies the site, then he/she signs the new content.json and publishes it to peers. After the peers have verified the file's integrity (using the signature), they download the modified files and serve the new content to other peers.

More info: ZeroNet sample sites, Slideshow about how ZeroNet works