Tim Wilson-Brown (teor)
This document describes the format of Tor's directory lists, which are compiled and hard-coded into the tor binary. There is currently one list: the fallback directory mirrors. This list is also parsed by other libraries, like stem and metrics-lib. Alternate Tor implementations can use this list to bootstrap from the latest public Tor directory information.
The FallbackDir feature was introduced by proposal 210, and was first supported by Tor in Tor version 0.2.4.7-alpha. The first hard-coded list was shipped in 0.2.8.1-alpha.
The hard-coded fallback directory list is located in the tor source repository at:
In Tor 0.3.4 and earlier, the list is located at:
This document describes version 2.0.0 and later of the directory list format.
Legacy, semi-structured versions of the fallback list were released with Tor 0.2.8.1-alpha through Tor 0.3.1.9. We call this format version 1. Stem and Relay Search have parsers for this legacy format.
A directory list is a C code fragment containing an array of C string constants. Each double-quoted C string constant is a valid torrc FallbackDir entry. Each entry contains various data fields.
Directory lists do not include the C array's declaration, or the array's terminating NULL. Entries in directory lists do not include the FallbackDir torrc option. These are handled by the including C code.
Directory lists also include C-style comments and whitespace. The presence of whitespace may be significant, but the amount of whitespace is never significant. The type of whitespace is not significant to the C compiler or Tor C string parser. However, other parsers MAY rely on the distinction between newlines and spaces. (And that the only whitespace characters in the list are newlines and spaces.)
The directory entry C string constants are split over multiple lines for readability. Structured C-style comments are used to provide additional data fields. This information is not used by Tor, but may be of interest to other libraries.
The order of directory entries and data fields is not significant, except where noted below.
The original fallback directory script and format was created by weasel. The current script uses code written by gsathya & karsten.
This specification was revised after feedback from Damian Johnson ("atagar") and Iain R. Learmonth ("irl").
The directory list format uses semantic versioning: https://semver.org
In particular: * major versions are used for incompatible changes, like removing non-optional fields * minor versions are used for compatible changes, like adding fields * patch versions are for bug fixes, like fixing an incorrectly-formatted Summary item 1.0.0 - The legacy fallback directory list format 2.0.0 - Adds name and extrainfo structured comments, and section separator comments to make the list easier to parses. Also adds a source list comment to the header. 3.0.0 - Modifies the format of the source list comment.
Tor also has an auth_dirs.inc file, but it is not yet in this format. Tor uses slightly different formats for authorities and fallback directory mirrors, so we will need to make some changes to tor so that it parses this format. (We will also need to add authority-specific information to this format.) See #24818 for details.
We want to add a torrc option so operators can opt-in their relays as fallback directory mirrors. This gives us a signed opt-in confirmation. (We can also continue to accept whitelist entries, and do other checks.) We need to write a short proposal, and make some changes to tor and the fallback update script. See #24839 for details.
Directory lists contain the following sections:
- List Header (exactly once)
- List Generation (exactly once, may be empty)
- Directory Entry (zero or more times)
Each section (or entry) ends with a separator.
The following nonterminals are defined in the Onionoo details document specification:
The following nonterminals are defined in the "Tor directory protocol" specification in dir-spec.txt:
Keyword ArgumentChar NL (newline) SP (space) bool (must not be confused with Onionoo's JSON "boolean")
We derive the following nonterminals from Onionoo and dir-spec.txt:
ipv4_or_port ::= port from an IPv4 or_addresses item The ipv4_or_port is the port part of an IPv4 address from the Onionoo or_addresses list. ipv6_or_address ::= an IPv6 or_addresses item The ipv6_or_address is an IPv6 address and port from the Onionoo or_addresses list. The address MAY be in the canonical RFC 5952 IPv6 address format. A key-value pair: value ::= Zero or more ArgumentChar, excluding the following strings: * a double quotation mark (DQUOTE), and * the C comment terminators ("/*" and "*/"). Note that the C++ comment ("//") and equals sign ("=") are not excluded, because they are reserved for future use in base64 values. key_value ::= Keyword "=" value We also define these additional nonterminals: number ::= An optional negative sign ("-"), followed by one or more numeric characters ([0-9]), with an optional decimal part (".", followed by one or more numeric characters). separator ::= "/*" SP+ "=====" SP+ "*/"
The list header consists of a number of key-value pairs, embedded in C-style comments.
"/*" SP+ "type=" Keyword SP+ "*/" SP\* NL [At start, exactly once.] The type of directory entries in the list. Parsers SHOULD exit with an error if this is not the first line of the list, or if the value is anything other than "fallback". "/*" SP+ "version=" version_number SP+ "*/" SP* NL [In second position, exactly once.] The version of the directory list format. version_number is a semantic version, see the "Format Versions" section for details. Version 1.0.0 represents the undocumented, legacy fallback list format(s). Version 2.0.0 and later are documented by this specification. "/*" SP+ "timestamp=" number SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Exactly once.] A positive integer that indicates when this directory list was generated. This timestamp is guaranteed to increase for every version 2.0.0 and later directory list. The current timestamp format is YYYYMMDDHHMMSS, as an integer. "/*" SP+ "source=" Keyword ("," Keyword)* SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Zero or one time.] A list of the sources of the directory entries in the list. As of version 3.0.0, the possible sources are: * "offer-list" - the fallback_offer_list file in the fallback-scripts repository. * "descriptor" - one or more signed descriptors, each containing an "offer-fallback-dir" line. This feature will be implemented in ticket #24839. * "fallback" - a fallback_dirs.inc file from a tor repository. Used in check_existing mode. Before #24839 is implemented, the default is "offer-list". During the transition to signed offers, it will be "descriptor,offer-list". Afterwards, it will be "descriptor". In version 2.0.0, only one source name was allowed after "source=", and the deprecated "whitelist" source name was used instead of "offer-list". This line was added in version 2.0.0 of this specification. The format of this line was modified in version 3.0.0 of this specification. "/*" SP+ key_value SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Zero or more times.] Future releases may include additional header fields. Parsers MUST NOT rely on the order of these additional fields. Additional header fields will be accompanied by a minor version increment. separator SP* NL The list header ends with the section separator.
The list generation information consists of human-readable prose describing the content and origin of this directory list. It is contained in zero or more C-style comments, and may contain multi-line comments and uncommented C code.
In particular, this section may contain C-style comments that contain an equals ("=") character. It may also be entirely empty.
Future releases may arbitrarily change the content of this section. Parsers MUST NOT rely on a version increment when the format changes.
In general, parsers MUST NOT rely on the format of this section.
Parsers MAY rely on the following details:
The list generation section MUST NOT be a valid directory entry.
The list generation summary MUST end with a section separator:
separator SP* NL
There MUST NOT be any section separators in the list generation section, other than the terminating section separator.
A directory entry consists of a C string constant, and one or more C-style comments. The C string constant is a valid argument to the DirAuthority or FallbackDir torrc option. The section also contains additional key-value fields in C-style comments.
The list of fallback entries does not include the directory authorities: they are in a separate list. (The Tor implementation combines these lists after parsing them, and applies the DirAuthorityFallbackRate to their weights.)
If a directory entry does not conform to this format, the entry SHOULD be ignored by parsers. DQUOTE dir_address SP+ "orport=" ipv4_or_port SP+ "id=" fingerprint DQUOTE SP* NL [At start, exactly once, on a single line.] This line consists of the following fields: dir_address An IPv4 address and DirPort for this directory, as defined by Onionoo. In this format version, all IPv4 addresses and DirPorts are guaranteed to be non-zero. (For IPv4 addresses, this means that they are not equal to "0.0.0.0".) ipv4_or_port An IPv4 ORPort for this directory, derived from Onionoo. In this format version, all IPv4 ORPorts are guaranteed to be non-zero. fingerprint The relay fingerprint of this directory, as defined by Onionoo. All relay fingerprints are guaranteed to have one or more non-zero digits. Note: Each double-quoted C string line that occurs after the first line, starts with space inside the quotes. This is a requirement of the Tor implementation. DQUOTE SP+ "ipv6=" ipv6_or_address DQUOTE SP* NL [Zero or one time.] The IPv6 address and ORPort for this directory, as defined by Onionoo. If present, IPv6 addresses and ORPorts are guaranteed to be non-zero. (For IPv6 addresses, this means that they are not equal to "[::]".) DQUOTE SP+ "weight=" number DQUOTE SP* NL [Zero or one time.] A non-negative, real-numbered weight for this directory. The default fallback weight is 1.0, and the default DirAuthorityFallbackRate is 1.0 in legacy Tor versions, and 0.1 in recent Tor versions. weight was removed in version 2.0.0, but is documented because it may be of interest to libraries implementing Tor's fallback behaviour. DQUOTE SP+ key_value DQUOTE SP* NL [Zero or more times.] Future releases may include additional data fields in double-quoted C string constants. Parsers MUST NOT rely on the order of these additional fields. Additional data fields will be accompanied by a minor version increment. "/*" SP+ "nickname=" nickname* SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Exactly once.] The nickname for this directory, as defined by Onionoo. An empty nickname indicates that the nickname is unknown. The first fallback list in the 2.0.0 format had nickname lines, but they were all empty. "/*" SP+ "extrainfo=" bool SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Exactly once.] An integer flag that indicates whether this directory caches extra-info documents. Set to 1 if the directory claimed that it cached extra-info documents in its descriptor when the list was created. 0 indicates that it did not, or its descriptor was not available. The first fallback list in the 2.0.0 format had extrainfo lines, but they were all zero. "/*" SP+ key_value SP+ "*/" SP* NL [Zero or more times.] Future releases may include additional data fields in C-style comments. Parsers MUST NOT rely on the order of these additional fields. Additional data fields will be accompanied by a minor version increment. separator SP* NL [Exactly once.] Each directory entry ends with the section separator. "," SP* NL [Exactly once.] The comma terminates the C string constant. (Multiple C string constants separated by whitespace or comments are coalesced by the C compiler.)
This section contains recommended library behaviours. It does not affect the format of directory lists.
The fallback list typically changes once every 6-12 months. The data in the list represents the state of the fallback directory entries when the list was created. Fallbacks can and do change their details over time.
Libraries SHOULD parse and cache the most recent version of these lists during their build or release processes. Libraries MUST NOT retrieve the lists by default every time they are deployed or executed.
The latest fallback list can be retrieved from:
Libraries MUST NOT rely on the availability of the server that hosts these lists.
The list can also be retrieved using:
git clone https://gitlab.torproject.org/tpo/core/tor/
If you just want the latest list, you may wish to perform a shallow clone.
Some libraries retrieve directory documents directly from the Tor Directory Authorities. The directory authorities are designed to support Tor relay and client bootstrap, and MAY choose to rate-limit library access. Libraries MAY provide a user-agent in their requests, if they are not intended to support anonymous operation. (User agents are a fingerprinting vector.)
Libraries SHOULD consider the potential load on the authorities, and whether other sources can meet their needs.
Libraries that require high-uptime availability of Tor directory information should investigate the following options:
* OnionOO: https://metrics.torproject.org/onionoo.html * Third-party OnionOO mirrors are also available * CollecTor: https://collector.torproject.org/ * Fallback Directory Mirrors
Onionoo and CollecTor are typically updated every hour on a regular schedule. Fallbacks update their own directory information at random intervals, see dir-spec for details.
The fallback list is typically regenerated when the fallback failure rate exceeds 25%. Libraries SHOULD NOT rely on any particular fallback being available, or some proportion of fallbacks being available.
Libraries that use fallbacks MAY wish to query an authority after a few fallback queries fail. For example, Tor clients try 3-4 fallbacks before trying an authority.
A sample version 2.0.0 fallback list is available here:
A sample transitional version 2.0.0 fallback list is available here:
/*type=fallback */ /* version=2.0.0 */ /* =====*/
/*Whitelist & blacklist excluded 1326 of 1513 candidates. */ /* Checked IPv4 DirPorts served a consensus within 15.0s. */ /* Final Count: 151 (Eligible 187, Target 392 (1963* 0.20), Max 200) Excluded: 36 (Same Operator 27, Failed/Skipped Download 9, Excess 0) Bandwidth Range: 1.3 - 40.0 MByte/s */ /* Onionoo Source: details Date: 2017-05-16 07:00:00 Version: 4.0 URL: https:onionoo.torproject.orgdetails?fields=fingerprint%2Cnickname%2Ccontact%2Clast_changed_address_or_port%2Cconsensus_weight%2Cadvertised_bandwidth%2Cor_addresses%2Cdir_address%2Crecommended_version%2Cflags%2Ceffective_family%2Cplatform&flag=V2Dir&type=relay&last_seen_days=-0&first_seen_days=30- */ /* Onionoo Source: uptime Date: 2017-05-16 07:00:00 Version: 4.0 URL: https:onionoo.torproject.orguptime?first_seen_days=30-&flag=V2Dir&type=relay&last_seen_days=-0 */ /* ===== \*/
"126.96.36.199:80 orport=443 id=0111BA9B604669E636FFD5B503F382A4B7AD6E80" /*nickname=foo */ /* extrainfo=1 */ /* ===== */ , "188.8.131.52:9030 orport=9001 id=0756B7CD4DFC8182BE23143FAC0642F515182CEB" " ipv6=\[2a01:4f8:162:51e2::2\]:9001" /* nickname= */ /* extrainfo=0 */ /* =====*/ ,