Installing Bitcoin Core
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Part 1. Installing Bitcoin Core

December 20, 2023

Introduction #

Bitcoin Core originated from the first Bitcoin software client released by Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator(s) of Bitcoin, in 2009. It was initially called “Bitcoin” but later renamed “Bitcoin Core” to differentiate it from the broader Bitcoin network and currency.

By running Bitcoin Core, participants contribute to the decentralized and consensus-driven nature of the Bitcoin network. Each full node independently validates transactions and blocks, ensuring adherence to the network’s rules without reliance on a central authority.

System User #

Create the user “satoshi” during the initial Ubuntu install. You can create “satoshi” with the following command if a different user was created.

sudo adduser --gecos "" satoshi

Create a strong password for the user, avoiding special characters.

Provide “satoshi” with sudo permission.

sudo usermod -aG sudo satoshi

Login as the new system user.

su - satoshi

Run a system upgrade. Use the sudo password created previously.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install required dependencies.

sudo apt install curl gpg unzip apt-transport-https -y

Local IP #

Throughout the guide, you will need to know the local IP address of your node to make the required modifications to the various configuration files.

Run the following command if you do not know your node’s local IP. Note it for future reference.

hostname -I

Configure Tor #

Create a new sources file for Tor.

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tor.list

Paste the following lines, then save and exit the file with “control+x,” confirm with “y,” then “enter.”

deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg] https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org jammy main
deb-src [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg] https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org jammy main

Import the Tor project’s gpg key.

sudo wget -qO- https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org/A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89.asc | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg >/dev/null

Install Tor and Tor Debian keyring.

sudo apt update && sudo apt install tor deb.torproject.org-keyring -y

Open the “torrc” file.

sudo nano /etc/tor/torrc

Paste the following at the top of the file, then save and exit.

# Hidden Service Bitcoind
ControlPort 9051
CookieAuthentication 1
CookieAuthFileGroupReadable 1

Add “satoshi” to the Tor group.

sudo usermod -aG debian-tor satoshi

Configure Bitcoin Daemon #

Download & Verify Core #

Create a downloads directory.

mkdir ~/downloads

Enter the directory.

cd ~/downloads

Visit bitcoincore.org and locate the page for the most current Bitcoin version, avoiding releases marked “test.” At the time of writing, v26.0 is the most recent release.

Copy the URL for the latest “x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz” package and download using “wget.”

torsocks wget https://bitcoincore.org/bin/bitcoin-core-26.0/bitcoin-26.0-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz

On the same page, download the “SHA256SUMS” file.

torsocks wget https://bitcoincore.org/bin/bitcoin-core-26.0/SHA256SUMS

Then download “SHA256SUMS.asc”.

torsocks wget https://bitcoincore.org/bin/bitcoin-core-26.0/SHA256SUMS.asc

Verify the checksum of the download.

sha256sum --ignore-missing --check SHA256SUMS
The output should show an “ok” message, for example:- “bitcoin-0.0-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz: OK.

Verify the validity of the release by checking the signatures against the known developer keys from the official Core repository.

Import developer keys to GPG keyring.

torsocks curl -s https://api.github.com/repos/bitcoin-core/guix.sigs/contents/builder-keys | \
grep download_url | cut -d '"' -f 4 | \
xargs -n 1 curl -O && \
ls *.gpg | xargs -n 1 gpg --import && \
rm *.gpg

Verify the signatures.

gpg --verify SHA256SUMS.asc

This will output a series of signature checks for each public key that signed the checksums.

The keys previously imported into your keyring should show a “gpg: Good signature” message.
Don’t worry about “This key is not certified with a trusted signature!” warnings. Enhanced trust levels have not been manually set for the imported keys.

Remove the downloaded verification files.

rm SHA256SUMS && rm SHA256SUMS.asc

Unpackage Bitcoin Core.

tar xzf bitcoin-*-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz

Remove the archive.

rm -r bitcoin-*-x86_64-linux-gnu.tar.gz

Installing Core #

Run the following command to install Bitcoin Core.

sudo install -m 0755 -o root -g root -t /usr/local/bin bitcoin-*/bin/*

Remove the leftover folder.

rm -r bitcoin-*/

Restart the Tor daemon.

sudo systemctl restart tor

Start the Bitcoin daemon, then stop it again after a few seconds.

bitcoind -daemon
bitcoin-cli stop

Configuration #

Create a Bitcoin configuration file.

nano ~/.bitcoin/bitcoin.conf

Paste the following lines into the file.

proxy=127.0.0.1:9050
listen=1
bind=127.0.0.1
onlynet=onion
server=1
txindex=1
daemon=1
pruned=0
dbcache=1024
peerbloomfilters=1
rpcport=8332
rpcbind=0.0.0.0
rpcallowip=127.0.0.1
rpcallowip=10.0.0.0/8
rpcallowip=172.0.0.0/8
rpcallowip=192.0.0.0/8
zmqpubrawblock=tcp://0.0.0.0:28332
zmqpubrawtx=tcp://0.0.0.0:28333
zmqpubhashblock=tcp://0.0.0.0:28334
whitelist=127.0.0.1
To sync the blockchain via Clearnet instead of Tor, remove the proxy, listen, bind, and onlynet lines, then add again after IBD completes. Bitcoind will need to be restarted to load the modifications. Whilst this accelerates sync performance, it is detrimental to privacy and not recommended.

You also have the option of enabling or disabling “Mempool Full-RBF.” If you want to ensure your choice persists throughout Core updates, regardless of what defaults future releases settle on, It’s recommended to flag this in your conf file using either the enable (1) or disable (0) argument.

You can ignore this line if you are happy to flow with any defaults chosen for you in future updates.

mempoolfullrbf=0

Leave the file open and start a new terminal session. SSH in and download the raw “rpcauth.py file” from the Bitcoin repository.

torsocks wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/master/share/rpcauth/rpcauth.py

Set the correct file permissions.

chmod +x rpcauth.py

Run the following command, replacing “PASSWORDHERE” with a strong RPC password for Bitcoin Core. Avoid the use of special characters.

./rpcauth.py bitcoin PASSWORDHERE

Copy the RPC string, starting “rpcauth=bitcoin,” and paste it, including the long string of numbers that follow, to the bottom of the “bitcoin.conf” file, open in your first terminal window.

Save and exit the file.

Remove the “rpcauth.py” file.

rm rpcauth.py

Service File #

Create a service file to start Bitcoin automatically on system boot.

cd /etc/systemd/system/

Copy the link to the raw “bitcoind.service” file from the Bitcoin repo and download.

sudo torsocks wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/26.x/contrib/init/bitcoind.service

Open the downloaded file.

sudo nano bitcoind.service

Make the following edits.

####change
ExecStart=/usr/bin/bitcoind -pid=/run/bitcoind/bitcoind.pid \
                            -conf=/etc/bitcoin/bitcoin.conf \
                            -datadir=/var/lib/bitcoind \
                            -startupnotify='systemd-notify --ready' \
                            -shutdownnotify='systemd-notify --stopping'

##to
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/bitcoind -pid=/run/bitcoind/bitcoind.pid \
                            -conf=/home/satoshi/.bitcoin/bitcoin.conf \
                            -datadir=/home/satoshi/.bitcoin \
                            -startupnotify='systemd-notify --ready' \
                            -shutdownnotify='systemd-notify --stopping'
####comment out
ExecStartPre=/bin/chgrp bitcoin /etc/bitcoin

##like this
#ExecStartPre=/bin/chgrp bitcoin /etc/bitcoin
####edit
User=bitcoin
Group=bitcoin

##to
User=satoshi
Group=satoshi
####comment out
ProtectHome=true

##like this
#ProtectHome=true

Save the file & exit.

Enable the service file.

sudo systemctl enable bitcoind

Tor Peers #

The first Tor peer needs to be added manually. Open “bitcoin.conf,” then visit the Tor node page at Bitnodes.io in a web browser.

nano ~/.bitcoin/bitcoin.conf

Select an active node from the list and copy the Tor address and port number.

Return to the terminal and paste the address at the bottom of the “bitcoin.conf” file.

As shown in the example below, include the “addnode=” prefix.

addnode=ufi6x4yympldoxmzgszvq5pb3pzixxjicvrhssrmky23f5bgxfxlfqd.onion:8333
Warning: This example is not an active node and should not be used.

Save and exit the file, then reboot the node.

sudo reboot

Wait a few minutes, then SSH into the node as “satoshi.”

Check that the node is successfully connecting to Tor peers. Depending on your waiting time, you may need to run this command several times.

bitcoin-cli getconnectioncount

If the output shows several peers, you can return to “bitcoin.conf” and remove the entire “addnode” line, then save and exit.

nano .bitcoin/bitcoin.conf

Restart Bitcoin CLI.

sudo systemctl restart bitcoind

Wait a few minutes, then check that you are still connecting to Tor nodes.

bitcoin-cli getconnectioncount

Networking #

Confirm that network traffic is only passing through Tor.

The output should show a “reachable false” status for both “IPV4” and “IPV6”.

Also, confirm that “onion” shows a “reachable true” status.

bitcoin-cli getnetworkinfo

The output also displays your Bitcoin Core onion address. This is useful for services requiring a direct connection to Core.

You can also make direct requests for your Bitcoin onion address.

bitcoin-cli getnetworkinfo | grep address.*onion

Tor limits IBD speeds; however, the privacy benefits of avoiding clearnet are substantial.

Monitor progress by running the following command from the home directory.

tail -f .bitcoin/debug.log

Wait until Core sync is finished before continuing. Once logs show “progress=1.000000”, IBD is complete.


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