Filename: 299-ip-failure-count.txt
Title: Preferring IPv4 or IPv6 based on IP Version Failure Count
Author: Neel Chauhan
Created: 25-Jan-2019
Status: Superseded
Superseded-by: 306

1. Introduction

   As IPv4 address space becomes scarce, ISPs and organizations will deploy
   IPv6 in their networks. Right now, Tor clients connect to guards using
   IPv4 connectivity by default.

   When networks first transition to IPv6, both IPv4 and IPv6 will be enabled
   on most networks in a so-called "dual-stack" configuration. This is to not
   break existing IPv4-only applications while enabling IPv6 connectivity.
   However, IPv6 connectivity may be unreliable and clients should be able
   to connect to the guard using the most reliable technology, whether IPv4
   or IPv6.

   In ticket #27490, we introduced the option ClientAutoIPv6ORPort which adds
   preliminary "happy eyeballs" support. If set, this lets a client randomly
   choose between IPv4 or IPv6. However, this random decision does not take
   into account unreliable connectivity or network failures of an IP family.
   A successful Tor implementation of the happy eyeballs algorithm requires
   that unreliable connectivity on IPv4 and IPv6 are taken into consideration.

   This proposal describes an algorithm to take into account network failures
   in the random decision used for choosing an IP family and the data fields
   used by the algorithm.

2. Options To Enable The Failure Counter

   To enable the failure counter, we will add a flags to ClientAutoIPv6ORPort.
   The new format for ClientAutoIPv6ORPort is:

      ClientAutoIPv6ORPort 0|1 [flags]

   The first argument is to enable the automatic selection between IPv4 and
   IPv6 if it is 1. The second argument is a list of optional flags.

   The only flag so far is "TrackFailures", which enables the tracking of
   failures to make a better decision when selecting between IPv4 and IPv6.
   The tracking of failures will be described in the rest of this proposal.

   However, we should be open to more flags from future proposals as they
   are written and implemented.

3. Failure Counter Design

   I propose that the failure counter uses the following fields:

      * IPv4 failure points

      * IPv6 failure points

   These entries will exist as internal counters for the current session, and
   a calculated value from the previous session in the statefile. 

   These values will be stored as 32-bit unsigned integers for the current
   session and in the statefile.

   When a new session is loaded, we will load the failure count from the
   statefile, and when a session is closed, the failure counts from the current
   session will be stored in the statefile. 

4. Failure Probability Calculation

   The failure count of one IP version will increase the probability of the
   other IP version. For instance, a failure of IPv4 will increase the IPv6
   probability, and vice versa.

   When the IP version is being chosen, I propose that these values will be
   included in the guard selection code:

      * IPv4 failure points

      * IPv6 failure points

      * Total failure points

   These values will be stored as 32-bit unsigned integers.

   A generic failure of an IP version will add one point to the failure point
   count values of the particular IP version which failed.

   A failure of an IP version from a "no route" error which happens when
   connections automatically fail will be counted as two failure points
   for the automatically failed version.

   The failure points for both IPv4 and IPv6 is sum of the values in the state
   file plus the current session's failure values. The total failure points is
   a sum of the IPv4 and IPv6 failure points, and is updated when the failure
   point count of an IP version is updated.

   The probability of a particular IP version is the failure points of the
   other version divided by the total number of failure points, multiplied
   by 4 and stored as an integer. We will call this value the summarized
   failure point value (SFPV). The reason for this summarization is to
   emulate a probability in 1/4 intervals by the random number generator.

   In the random number generator, we will choose a random number between 0
   and 4. If the random number is less than the IPv6 SFPV, we will choose
   IPv4. If it is equal or greater, we will choose IPv6.

   If the probability is 0/4 with a SFPV value of 0, it will be rounded to
   1/4 with a SFPV of 1. Also, if the probability is 4/4 with a SFPV of 4,
   it will be rounded to 3/4 with a SFPV of 3. The reason for this is to
   accomodate mobile clients which could change networks at any time (e.g.
   WiFi to cellular) which may be more or less reliable in terms of a
   particular IP family when compared to the previous network of the client.

5. Initial Failure Point Calculation

   When a client starts without failure points or if the FP value drops to 0,
   we need a SFPV value to start with. The Initial SFPV value will be counted
   based on whether the client is using a bridge or not and if the relays in
   the bridge configuration or consensus have IPv6.

   For clients connecting directly to Tor, we will:

      * During Bootstrap: use the number of IPv4 and IPv6 capable fallback
        directory mirrors during bootstrap.

      * After the initial consensus is received: use the number of IPv4 and
        IPv6 capable guards in the consensus.

   The reason why the consensus will be used to calculate the initial failure
   point value is because using the number of guards would bias the SFPV value
   with whatever's dominant on the network rather than what works on the

   For clients connecting through bridges, we will use the number of bridges
   configured and the IP versions supported.

   The initial value of the failure points in the scenarios described in this
   section would be:

      * IPv4 Faulure Points: Count the number of IPv6-capable relays

      * IPv6 Failure Points: Count the number of IPv4-capable relays

   If the consensus or bridge configuration changes during a session, we should
   not update the failure point counters to generate a SFPV.

   If we are starting a new session, we should use the existing failure points
   to generate a SFPV unless the counts for IPv4 or IPv6 are zero.

6. Forgetting Old Sessions

   We should be able to forget old failures as clients could change networks.
   For instance, a mobile phone could switch between WiFi and cellular. Keeping
   an exact failure history would have privacy implications, so we should store
   an approximate history.

   One way we could forget old sessions is by halving all the failure point
   (FP) values before adding when:

      * One or more failure point values are a multiple of a random number
        between 1 and 5

      * One or more failure point values are greater than or equal to 100

   The reason for halving the values at regular intervals is to forget old
   sessions while keeping an approxmate history. We halve all FP values so
   that one IP version doesn't dominante on the failure count if the other
   is halved. This keeps an approximate scale of the failures on a client.

   The reason for halving at a multiple of a random number instead of a fixed
   interval is so we can halve regularly while not making it too predictable.
   This prevents a situation where we would be halving too often to keep an
   approximate failure history.

   If we halve, we add the FP value for the failed IP version after halving all
   FPs if done to account for the failure. If halving is not done, we will just
   add the FP.

   If the FP value for one IP version goes down to zero, we will re-calculate
   the SFPV for that version using the methods described in Section 4.

7. Separate Concurrent Connection Limits

   Right now, there is a limit for three concurrent connections from a client.
   at any given time. This limit includes both IPv4 and IPv6 connections.
   This is to prevent denial of service attacks. I propose that a seperate
   connection limit is used for IPv4 and IPv6. This means we can have three
   concurrent IPv4 connections and three concurrent IPv6 connections at the
   same time.

   Having seperate connection limits allows us to deal with networks dropping
   packets for a particular IP family while still preventing potential denial
   of service attacks.

8. Pathbias and Failure Probability

   If ClientAutoIPv6ORPort is in use, and pathbias is triggered, we should
   ignore "no route" warnings. The reason for this is because we would be
   adding two failure points for the failed as described in Section 3 of this
   proposal. Adding two failure points would make us more likely to prefer the
   competing IP family over the failed one versus than adding a single failure
   point on a normal failure.

9. Counting Successful Connections

   If a connection to a particular IP version is successful, we should use
   it. This ensures that clients have a reliable connection to Tor. Accounting
   for successful connections can be done by adding one failure point to the
   competing IP version of the successful connection. For instance, if we have
   a successful IPv6 connection, we add one IPv4 failure point.

   Why use failure points for successful connections? This reduces the need for
   separate counters for successes and allows for code reuse. Why add to the
   competing version's failure point? Similar to how we should prefer IPv4 if
   IPv6 fails, we should also prefer IPv4 if it is successful. We should also
   prefer IPv6 if it is successful.

   Even on adding successes, we will still halve the failure counters as
   described in Section 5.

10. Acknowledgements

   Thank you teor for aiding me with the implementation of Happy Eyeballs in
   Tor. This would not have been possible if it weren't for you.