Filename: 242-better-families.txt
Title: Better performance and usability for the MyFamily option
Author: Nick Mathewson
Created: 2015-02-27
Status: Superseded

1. Problem statement.

   The current family interface allows well-behaved relays to
   identify that they all belong to the same 'family', and should
   not be used in the same circuits.

   Right now, this interface works by having every family member
   list every other family member in its server descriptor.  This
   winds up using O(n^2) space in microdescriptors, server
   descriptors, and RAM.  Adding or removing a server from the
   family requires all the other servers to change their torrc

   One proposal is to eliminate the use of the Family option
   entirely; see ticket #6676.  But if we don't, let's come up with
   a way to make it better.  (I'm writing this down mainly to get it
   out of my head.)

2. Design overview.

   In this design, every family has a master ed25519 key.  A node is
   in the family iff its server descriptor includes a certificate of
   its ed25519 identity key with the master ed25519 key.  The
   certificate format is as in proposal 220 section 2.1.

   Note that because server descriptors are signed with the node's
   ed25519 signing key, this creates a bidirectional relationship
   where nodes can't be put in families without their consent.

3. Changes to server descriptors

   We add a new entry to server descriptors:

   This line contains a base64-encoded certificate as described
   above.  It may appear any number of times.

4. Changes to microdescriptors

   We add a new entry to microdescriptors:

   This line contains one or more space-separated strings describing
   families to which the node belongs.  These strings MUST be
   between 1 and 64 characters long, and sorted in lexical order.
   Clients MUST NOT depend on any particular property of these

5. Changes to voting algorithm

   We allocate a new consensus method number for voting on these keys.

   When generating microdescriptors using a suitable consensus
   method, the authorities include a "family-keys" line if the
   underlying server descriptor contains any family-cert lines.
   For each family-cert in the server descriptor, they add a
   base-64-encoded string of that family-cert's signing key.

6. Client behavior

   Clients should treat node A and node B as belonging to the same
   family if ANY of these is true:

       * The client has server descriptors or microdescriptors for A
         and B, and A's descriptor lists B in its family line, and
         B's descriptor lists A in its family line.

       * The client has a server descriptor for A and one for B, and
         they both contain valid family-cert lines whose certs are
         signed by the family key.

       * The client has microdescriptors for A and B, and they both
         contain some string in common on their family-cert line.

7. Deprecating the old family lines.

   Once all clients that support the old family line format are
   deprecated, servers can stop including family lines in their
   descriptors, and authorities can stop including them in their

8. Open questions

   The rules in section 6 above leave open the possibility of old
   clients and new clients reaching different decisions about who is
   in a family.  We should evaluate this for anonymity implications.

   It's possible that families are a bad idea entirely; see ticket