DarkIRC: Strong Anonymity P2P Chat

In DarkFi, we organize our communication using resilient and censorship-resistant infrastructure. For chatting, darkirc is a peer-to-peer implementation of an IRC server in which any user can participate anonymously using any IRC frontend and by running the IRC daemon. darkirc uses the DarkFi P2P engine to synchronize chats between hosts.

Benefits

  • Encrypted using same algorithms as Signal.
  • There are no identities. You cannot see who is in the chat.
  • Completely anonymous. You can rename yourself easily by using the command /nick foo. This means all messages are unlinkable.
  • God-fearing based CLI without soy gui shit.
  • p2p decentralized.
  • Optionally run it over Tor or Nym (soon) for network level anonymity.

Therefore this is the world's most strongly anonymous chat in existence. Nothing else exists like it.

Installation

Follow the instructions in the README to ensure you have all the necessary dependencies.

% git clone https://codeberg.org/darkrenaissance/darkfi
% cd darkfi 
% make darkirc
% # install system wide only if you can make sure there would be no
% # multiple darkirc versions installed:
% # sudo make install darkirc 

Installation (Android)

This is for Android 64 bit (which is most phones). You will compile darkirc on your computer then copy it to your phone and run it in Termux (a command-line terminal for Android).

We will use podman which is a secure replacement for docker. However if you prefer to use docker just be aware of the security risks. Podman is a drop in replacement.

  1. Setup podman on your computer which may look like:
    1. Install podman package
    2. Run the podman daemon service under your local user
      1. Use the command podman system service.
      2. For Docker it's more complicated, see rootless mode.
  2. Run cd bin/darkirc/ && make podman-android. The resulting file will be called darkirc.aarch64-android (it might be needed to make the file executable chmod +x darkirc.aarch64-android). Copy this to your phone.
  3. Install Termux and RevolutionIRC on F-Droid.
  4. You can access the phone storage from /sdcard/ and copy the file into the Termux home.
  5. Run termux-wake-lock. This stops Android suspending the daemon.
  6. Run the daemon. You can open new Termux sessions by swiping from the left to bring up the sidebar.
  7. Connect the RevolutionIRC frontend by adding a new server:
    1. Write a name for the server (i.g darkirc).
    2. Set the server address and port (if using default config these should be 127.0.0.1:6667).
    3. Untick Use SSL/TLS option.
    4. Save and connect.

Logs

The public channels have logs available, and additionally there is a mirror on telegram @darkfi_darkirc channel. You can also message @darkirc_bot with "sub" to avoid doxxing your username. Use "unsub" to unsubscribe.

Usage (DarkFi Network)

Upon compiling darkirc as described above, the preconfigured defaults will allow you to connect to the network and start chatting with the rest of the DarkFi community.

First, try to start darkirc from your command-line so it can spawn its configuration file in place. The preconfigured defaults will autojoin you to several default channels one of which is #dev where we have weekly meetings, and where the community is most active and talks about DarkFi development.

% ./darkirc

darkirc will create a configuration file darkirc_config.toml by default in ~/.config/darkfi/ you can review and potentially edit. It might be useful if you want to add other channels you want to autojoin (like #philosophy and #memes), or if you want to set a shared secret for some channel in order for it to be encrypted between its participants.

When done, you can run darkirc for the second time in order for it to connect to the network and start participating in the P2P protocol:

% ./darkirc

The daemon will start conncting to peers and sync its database, you'll know it's finished syncing when you see this log message:

% [EVENTGRAPH] DAG synced successfully!

Now connect your favorite IRC client and it should replay missed messages that have been sent by people.

Clients

Weechat

In this section, we'll briefly cover how to use the Weechat IRC client to connect and chat with darkirc.

Normally, you should be able to install weechat using your distribution's package manager. If not, have a look at the weechat git repository for instructions on how to install it on your computer.

Once installed, we can configure a new server which will represent our darkirc instance. First, start weechat, and in its window - run the following commands (there is an assumption that irc_listen in the darkirc config file is set to 127.0.0.1:6667):

/server add darkfi localhost/6667 -notls -autoconnect
/save
/quit

This will set up the server, save the settings, and exit weechat. You are now ready to begin using the chat. Simply start weechat and everything should work.

When you join, you should see users nicknames on the right panel. those nicknames are users who previously sent messages and you got those messages as history when you synced. Normally nicks would not be shown since there is no concept of nicknames or registration on this p2p anonymous chat.

You can change your nickname using /nick foo, and navigate channels using F5/F6 or ALT+X where X is the channel number displayed.

Whenever you edit darkirc_config.toml file and if you have your darkirc daemon running you don't need to restart it to reload the config, you just need to send a rehash command from IRC client for the changes to reflect, like so:

/quote rehash

Or:

/rehash

Network-level privacy

Nodes have knowledge of their peers, including the IP addresses of connected hosts.

DarkFi supports the use of pluggable transports, including Tor and Nym, to provide network-level privacy. As long as there are live seed nodes configured to support a Tor or Nym connection, users can connect to darkirc and benefit from the protections offered by these protocols.

Other approaches include connecting via a cloud server or VPN. Research the risks involved in these methods before connecting.

Usage (Local Deployment)

These steps below are only for developers who wish to make a testing deployment. The previous sections are sufficient to join the chat.

Seed Node

First you must run a seed node. The seed node is a static host which nodes can connect to when they first connect to the network. The seed_session simply connects to a seed node and runs protocol_seed, which requests a list of addresses from the seed node and disconnects straight after receiving them.

The first time you run the program, a config file will be created in ~/.config/darkfi if you are using Linux or in ~/Library/Application Support/darkfi/ on MacOS. You must specify an inbound accept address in your config file to configure a seed node:

## P2P accept addresses
inbound=["127.0.0.1:11001"]

Note that the above config doesn't specify an external address since the seed node shouldn't be advertised in the list of connectable nodes. The seed node does not participate as a normal node in the p2p network. It simply allows new nodes to discover other nodes in the network during the bootstrapping phase.

Inbound Node

This is a node accepting inbound connections on the network but which is not making any outbound connections.

The external addresses are important and must be correct.

To run an inbound node, your config file must contain the following info:

## P2P accept addresses
inbound=["127.0.0.1:11002"]

## P2P external addresses
external_addr=["127.0.0.1:11002"]

## Seed nodes to connect to 
seeds=["127.0.0.1:11001"]

Outbound Node

This is a node which has 8 outbound connection slots and no inbound connections. This means the node has 8 slots which will actively search for unique nodes to connect to in the p2p network.

In your config file:

## Connection slots
outbound_connections=8

## Seed nodes to connect to 
seeds=["127.0.0.1:11001"]

Attaching the IRC Frontend

Assuming you have run the above 3 commands to create a small model testnet, and both inbound and outbound nodes above are connected, you can test them out using weechat.

To create separate weechat instances, use the --dir command:

weechat --dir /tmp/a/
weechat --dir /tmp/b/

Then in both clients, you must set the option to connect to temporary servers:

/set irc.look.temporary_servers on

Finally you can attach to the local darkirc instances:

/connect localhost/6667
/connect localhost/6668

And send messages to yourself.

Running a Fullnode

See the script script/run_node.sh for an example of how to deploy a full node which does seed session synchronization, and accepts both inbound and outbound connections.

Global Buffer

Copy this script to ~/.weechat/python/autoload/, and you will create a single buffer which aggregates messages from all channels. It's useful to monitor activity from all channels without needing to flick through them.

Emojis

Install the noto fonts to have the full unicode set. Popular Linux distros should have packages for them.

Once installed you can view all the emojis in your terminal. Note, you may need to regenerate your font cache (or just restart) after installing them.