Node Tutorial: Running Your Casa Node on Tor
Update: Casa Node software is no longer maintained; we recommend looking at other build-your-own node projects.
Running your Casa Node on Tor has some great benefits: increased privacy, no port forwarding necessary, the ability to access your node from outside your home network, and the chance to write crypto thought leader tweets about how you only use Tor these days and enjoy eating raw onions like apples.
Some Quick Tips
However, like an onion, Tor has some occasional pains as you’re digging into it. Here are a few things you need to know to keep your Casa Node + Tor experience smooth.
- When you switch your Lightning Node over to Tor, you’ll get a new connection code. Your existing channels will stay active when you switch over, and non-Tor nodes can still open a channel to you.
- There are fewer Tor Lightning Nodes on the network, so until this feature grows it may be harder to get inbound channels. But now you can talk to your fellow Casa Noders and get them running Tor too, so everyone can have more privacy!
- Each time you switch your Bitcoin or Lightning node between Tor and “clearnet” (the cypherpunk name for the “regular” internet) that node will need to restart to apply the settings. Give it a few minutes after flipping the switch and you should be fine—refresh the page if it seems to be taking a while.
- We don’t currently allow Bitcoin to run on Tor only, because we noticed in testing that it was hard to find peers and stay in sync with the chain. In a future update, we’ll allow the Bitcoin node to run purely on Tor.
New Connections Page
We’ve added a new tab to the System card on your dashboard, called “Connections”. This is now where you’ll manage everything about your node’s connection to the network.
Here’s what you’ll find on this new page:
- Your Lightning Node’s connection code (this has been removed from the Manage Lightning Node page)
- Port forwarding settings for Bitcoin and Lightning
- Tor settings
- Your Node’s internal and external IP addresses, plus its Tor onion addresses if Tor is enabled
How to Turn on Tor
We’ve moved some of the connection and port forwarding details to a new “Connections” tab in the System area of the dashboard. You’ll now go here for your Lightning connection code, to check your external or internal IP addresses, and to find your Tor onion addresses.
To turn on Tor:
1. Click on the Connections tab.
2. Flip the switch for Tor on Bitcoin, Lightning, or both.
3. Wait 3-5 minutes for the Bitcoin and/or Lightning node to restart after flipping the switch.
If you turn on Lightning Tor, you’ll have a new connection code shown on this page, which you should now use for letting others connect to you. You don’t need to worry about your existing channels closing - they will switch over automatically.
Note that if you switch back to clearnet after turning on Tor, you’ll need to re-enter your forwarded port on the “Configure Port” page. See our guide here about port forwarding for more info.
Using Tor to Access your Node Outside your Home Network
Once you turn on either Bitcoin or Lightning Tor, you’ll see a third Tor option appear: the dashboard Tor address. This lets you access your node dashboard securely from outside your home WiFi by using a Tor browser. Note that using the Tor Browser is typically slower than a browser like Chrome or Safari due to Tor’s added privacy layers. You can read more about it in our Tor explainer article.
To do this, first download a Tor browser if you haven’t already.
Desktop: Tor Project, Brave (you must use Brave’s “Private Window with Tor” feature)
iOS: We have not found a good iOS Tor browser to recommend yet, but will update this article when we do or when the Tor Project releases its official iOS app.
Android: Tor Project Android App
Copy your dashboard Tor address and paste it in the Tor browser URL. We recommend bookmarking it for future use.
Unlike IP addresses that can randomly change (annoying, we know), Tor addresses will stay the same as long as you don’t turn off Tor mode. This specific address will always point to your Casa Node dashboard. This is a great convenience, but it’s important not to share this address with others. That would allow them to attempt to guess your password and log in to your dashboard without your knowledge.