Go Beyond

Written by Teran McKinney
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Autonomous, crowd-funded Tor Relays with Bitcoin

Continued with my previous efforts of making this blog purchase two new servers, update nameserver records, and renew itself every week, I've continued on a similar path.

I realized that there are many applications for servers buying other servers. Let's consider Tor, a network that allows anonymity and safety for many. Journalists, whistleblowers, or even average people in totalitarian countries where many online services are otherwise blocked. The network is largely a group of proxies, going from one to another to another. A server somewhere at the beginning or the middle is called a relay node. These servers are quite important to ensure the speed and reliability of the tor network.

So one might usually fiddle with scripts and run their own tor relay. Forget about it a while later. Or donate to have others setup a tor relay. But what if you just paid the tor relay and it paid for itself?

Or what if the relay had enough money that it created another server altogther?

I updated the launch profile for the Tor Relay in SporeStack. I added self-renewing and self-propogating properties.

I then created two servers in every supported SporeStack region (all fourteen of them across the world), and paid for two weeks of time on each one. Each server broadcasts a Bitcoin address to keep itself alive. If you like the server you can pay for it. If you like one server and not another, pay only for the ones you like. In time this may become an evolutionary process where the most useful relay configurations are paid and the lesser useful ones die off, with the whole system evolving over time.

These Bitcoin addresses do not go directly to SporeStack. Each server creates its own wallet and monitors the balance -- I don't have any direct access to the funds. If the server has been renewed once and does not have enough funds to renew again, the remainder should automatically be donated to Noisebridge's tor exit node service.

I can only fund these servers for so long out of pocket. If you want to help sustain the Tor network and pioneer the future of autonomous computing, check the Tor Atlas and send some Bitcoin to the addresses shown in the contact field on any given node. The Atlas shows graphs of performance and uptime.

For instance, 1NvhNrBe2YorNfRtxe7ftjHgz4CkRuPFtC is the Bitcoin address for one of the SporeStack-launched relays (, 2001:19f0:5401:be:5400:ff:fe6c:929)

TorTip is another option. It will split donations between relays based on performance. You can see a number of SporeStack relays listed. Although it seems both the Tor Atlas and TorTip are not the most consistently reliable services.

If you'd rather just launch one yourself, you can do that as well.

Thanks for reading.


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