Michal Čihař - Blog Archives for Crypto

Running Bitcoin node and ElectrumX server

I've been tempted to run own ElectrumX server for quite some. First attempt was to run this on Turris Omnia router, however that turned out to be impossible due to memory requirements both Bitcoind and ElectrumX have.

This time I've dedicated host for this and it runs fine:

Electrum connecting to btc.cihar.com

The server runs Debian sid (probably it would be doable on stretch as well, but I didn't try much) and the setup was pretty simple.

First we need to install some things - Bitcoin daemon and ElectrumX dependencies:

# Bitcoin daemon, not available in stretch
apt install bitcoind

# We will checkout ElectrumX from git
apt install git

# ElectrumX deps
apt install python3-aiohttp

# Build environment for ElectrumX deps
apt install build-essentials python3-pip libleveldb-dev

# ElectrumX deps not packaged in Debian
pip3 install plyvel pylru

# Download ElectrumX sources
su - electrumx -c 'git clone https://github.com/kyuupichan/electrumx.git'

Create users which will run the services:

adduser bitcoind
adduser electrumx

Now it's time to prepare configuration for the services. For Bitcoin it's quite simple - we need to configure RPC interface and enable transaction index in /home/bitcoind/.bitcoin/bitcoin.conf:


The ElectrumX configuration is quite simple as well and it's pretty well documented. I've decided to place it in /etc/electrumx.conf:





I've decided to control both services using systemd, so it's matter of creating pretty simple units for that. Actually the Bitcoin one closely matches the one I've used on Turris Omnia and the ElectrumX the one they ship, but there are some minor changes.

Systemd unit for ElectrumX in /etc/systemd/system/electrumx.service:




And finally systemd unit for Bitcoin daemon in /etc/systemd/system/bitcoind.service:




Now everything should be configured and it's time to start up the services:

# Enable services so that they start on boot 
systemctl enable electrumx.service bitcoind.service

# Start services
systemctl start electrumx.service bitcoind.service

Now you have few days time until Bitcoin fetches whole blockchain and ElectrumX indexes that. If you happen to have another Bitcoin node running (or was running in past), you can speedup the process by copying blocks from that system (located in ~/.bitcoin/blocks/). Only get blocks from sources you trust absolutely as it might change your view of history, see Bitcoin wiki for more information on the topic. There is also magnet link in the ElectrumX docs to download ElectrumX database to speed up this process. This should be safe to download from untrusted source.

The last think I'd like to mention is resources usage. You should have at least 4 GB of memory to run this, 8 GB is really preferred (both services consume around 4GB). On disk space, Bitcoin currently consumes 170 GB and ElectrumX 25 GB. Ideally all this should be running on the SSD disk.

You can however offload some of the files to slower storage as old blocks are rarely accessed and this can save some space on your storage. Following script will move around 50 GB of blockchain data to /mnt/btc/blocks (use only when Bitcoin daemon is not running):

set -e


cd ~/.bitcoin/blocks/

find . -type f \( -name 'blk00[0123]*.dat' -o -name 'rev00[0123]*dat' \) | sed 's@^\./@@' | while read name ; do
        mv $name $DEST/$name
        ln -s $DEST/$name $name

Anyway if you would like to use this server, configure btc.cihar.com in your Electrum client.

If you find this howto useful, you can send some Satoshis to 3KPccmPtejpMczeog7dcFdqX4oTebYZ3tF.

Weekly phpMyAdmin contributions 2017-W44

Most of last week was spent on bringing U2F and 2FA to phpMyAdmin. Besides that it was really just minor bug fixing.

We've had one pull request for the 2FA already open, however it was not really in quality to be merged and the original author really didn't come back to address our concerns. I was thinking to start over from his work, but in the end I've decided to start from scratch and come with code which will make easier to implement additional second authentication factors in the future.

Anyway what is now there is support for HOTP/TOTP authentication (Google Authenticator and similar) and FIDO U2F hardware tokens. The latter has been tested with TREZOR, but should work with any compliant device.

phpMyAdmin with TREZOR

Handled issues:

Using Trezor to store cryptocurencies

For quite some time I have some cryptocurrencies on hold. These mostly come from times it was possible to mine Bitcoin on the CPU, but I've got some small payments recently as well.

I've been using Electrum wallet so far. It worked quite well, but with increasing Bitcoin value, I was considering having some hardware wallet for that. There are few options which you can use, but I've always preferred Trezor as that device is made by guys I know. Also it's probably device with best support out of these (at least I've heard really bad stories about Ledger support).

In the end what decided is that they are also using Weblate to translate their user interface and offered me the wallet for free in exchange. This is price you can not beat :-). Anyway the setup was really smooth and I'm now fully set up. This also made me more open to accept other cryptocurrencies which are supported by Trezor, so you can now see more options on the Weblate donations page.

Running Bitcoin node on Turris Omnia

For quite some I'm happy user of Turris Omnia router. The router has quite good hardware, so I've decided to try if I can run Bitcoin node on that and ElectrumX server.

To make the things easier to manage, I've decided to use LXC and run all these in separate container. First of all you need LXC on the router. This is the default setup, but in case you've removed it, you can add it back in the Updater settings.

Now we will create Debian container. There is basic information on using in Turris Documentation on how to create the container, in latter documentation I assume it is called debian.

It's also good idea to enable LXC autostart, to do so add your container to cat /etc/config/lxc-auto on :

config container
    option name debian

You might also want to edit lxc container configration to enable clean shutdown:

# Send SIGRTMIN+3 to shutdown systemd (37 on Turris Omnia)
lxc.haltsignal = SIGRTMIN+3

To make the system more recent, I've decided to use Debian Stretch (one of reasons was that ElectrumX needs Python 3.5.3 or newer). Which is anyway probably sane choice right now given that it's already frozen and will be soon stable. As Stretch is not available as a download option in Omnia, I've chosen to use Debian Jessie and upgrate it later:

$ lxc-attach  --name debian
$ sed -i s/jessie/stretch/ /etc/apt/sources.list
$ apt update
$ apt full-upgrade

Now you have up to date system and we can start installing dependencies. First thing to install is Bitcoin Core. Just follow the instructions on their website to do that. Now it's time to set it up and wait for downloading full blockchain:

$ adduser bitcoin
$ su - bitcoin
$ bitcoind -daemon

Depending on your connection speed, the download will take few hours. You can monitor the progress using bitcoin-cli, you're waiting for 450k blocks:

$ bitcoin-cli getinfo
  "version": 140000,
  "protocolversion": 70015,
  "walletversion": 130000,
  "balance": 0.00000000,
  "blocks": 301242,
  "timeoffset": -1,
  "connections": 8,
  "proxy": "",
  "difficulty": 8853416309.1278,
  "testnet": false,
  "keypoololdest": 1490267950,
  "keypoolsize": 100,
  "paytxfee": 0.00000000,
  "relayfee": 0.00001000,
  "errors": ""

Depending how much memory you have (mine has 2G) and what all you run on the router, you will have to tweak bitcoind configuration to consume less memory. This can be done by editing .bitcoin/bitcoin.conf, I've ended up with following settings:


You can also create startup unit for Bitcoin daemon (place that as /etc/systemd/system/bitcoind.service):




Now we can enable services to start on container start:

systemctl enable bitcoind.service

Then I wanted to setup ElectrumX as well, but I've quickly realized that it uses way more memory that my router has, so there is no option to run it without using swap, what will probably make it quite slow (I haven't tried that).