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Tor Hidden Services Load Balancing: OnionBalance Onion Mirror Links

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Tor Hidden Services Load Balancing: OnionBalance Onion Mirror Links  The OnionBalance software allows for Tor hidden service requests to be distributed across multiple backend Tor instances. OnionBalance provides load-balancing while also making onion services more resilient and reliable by

Tor Hidden Services Load Balancing


     The OnionBalance software allows for Tor hidden service requests to be distributed across multiple backend Tor instances. OnionBalance provides load-balancing while also making onion services more resilient and reliable by eliminating single points-of-failure.   This tool is designed to allow requests to Tor onion service to be directed to multiple back-end Tor instances, thereby increasing availability and reliability. The design involves collating the set of introduction points created by one or more independent Tor onion service instances into a single ‘master’ onion service descriptor.

    The master descriptor is signed by the onion service permanent key and published to the HSDir system as normal.  Clients who wish to access the onion service would then retrieve the master service descriptor and try to connect to introduction points from the descriptor in a random order. If a client successfully establishes an introduction circuit, they can begin communicating with one of the onion services instances with the normal onion service protocol defined in rend-spec.txt

Features

OnionBalance is under active development and new features are being added regularly:

  • Load balancing between up to 60 backend hidden services
  • Storage of the hidden service private key separate to th hidden service hosts

Terms:

  • Instance – A load-balancing node running an individual onion service.
  • Introduction Point – A Tor relay chosen by an onion service instance as a medium-term meeting-place for initial client connections.
  • Master Descriptor – An onion service descriptor published with the desired onion address containing introduction points for each instance.
  • Management Server – Server running OnionBalance which collates introduction points and publishes a master descriptor.
  • Metadata Channel – A direct connection from an instance to a management server which can be used for instance descriptor upload and transfer of other data.

Management Server

    is the machine running the OnionBalance daemon. It holds the master hidden service private key.  This machine can be located geographically isolated from the machines hosting the hidden service content. It does not need to serve any content.  OnionBalance requires that a recent version of Tor (>= 0.2.7.1-alpha) is installed on the management server system. This version might not be available in your operating system’s repositories yet.s.

The management server need to have its control port enabled to allow the OnionBalance daemon to talk to the Tor process. This can be done by uncommenting the ControlPort option in your torrc configuration file.  Alternatively you can replace your torrc file with the following is suitable for the Tor instance running on the management server:

DataDirectory tor-data

ControlPort 9051
CookieAuthentication 1
SocksPort 0

RunAsDaemon 1

Backend Instance

    Each backend instance should be run a standard onion service which serves your website or other content. More information about configuring onion services is available in the Tor Project’s hidden service configuration guide. If you have used the onionbalance-config tool you should transfer the generated instance config files and keys to the Tor configuration directory on the backend servers.

DataDirectory tor-data

# ControlPort 9051
# CookieAuthentication 1
SocksPort 0

RunAsDaemon 1

# Configure each onion service instance with a unique permanent key.
# HiddenServiceDir tor-data/hidden_service/
# HiddenServicePort 80 127.0.0.1:80

Installation

     OnionBalance requires at least one system that is running the OnionBalance management server. The OnionBalance software does not need to be installed on the backend servers which provide the hidden service content (i.e. web site, IRC server etc.).  OnionBalance is not yet packaged for most Linux and BSD. The tool can be installed from PyPI or directly from the Git repository:

# pip install onionbalance

or

$ git clone https://github.com/DonnchaC/onionbalance.git
$ cd onionbalance
# python setup.py install

If you are running Debian unstable or testing, you can install OnionBalance with the following command:

# apt-get install onionbalance

You can start the OnionBalance management server once all of your backend onion service instances are running. You will need to create a configuration file which list the backend hidden services and the location of your hidden service keys.

$ onionbalance -c config.yaml

or

$ sudo service onionbalance start

The management server must be left running to publish new descriptors for your onion service.

How to create onion mirror links?

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How to create onion mirror links? This section of the file consists of groups of lines, each representing one onion service. Right now they are all commented out (the lines start with #), so onion services are disabled. Each group of lines consists of one HiddenServiceDir line, and one or more HiddenServicePort lines:

  • HiddenServiceDir is a directory where Tor will store information about that onion service. In particular, Tor will create a file here named hostname which will tell you the onion URL. You don’t need to add any files to this directory. Make sure this is not the same directory as the hidserv directory you created when setting up thttpd, as your HiddenServiceDir contains secret information!
  • HiddenServicePort lets you specify a virtual port (that is, what port people accessing the onion service will think they’re using) and an IP address and port for redirecting connections to this virtual port.

Add the following lines to your torrc:

    HiddenServiceDir /Library/Tor/var/lib/tor/hidden_service/
    HiddenServicePort 80 127.0.0.1:8080
    

You’re going to want to change the HiddenServiceDir line, so it points to an actual directory that is readable/writeable by the user that will be running Tor. The above line should work if you’re using the OS X Tor package. On Unix, try “/home/username/hidden_service/” and fill in your own username in place of “username”. On Windows you might pick:

 HiddenServiceDir C:\Users\username\Documents\tor\hidden_service
	HiddenServicePort 80 127.0.0.1:8080 

Note that since 0.2.6, both SocksPort and HiddenServicePort support Unix sockets. This means that you can point the HiddenServicePort to a Unix socket:

    HiddenServiceDir /Library/Tor/var/lib/tor/hidden_service/
    HiddenServicePort 80 unix:/path/to/socket
    

Now save the torrc and restart your tor.