ZeroNet: Decentralized Censorship-resistant Network

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Combining Whonix ™ with ZeroNet. ZeroNet over Tor. Connecting to Tor before ZeroNet.


Deprecated Wiki Page[edit]

The original developer of ZeroNet disappeared approximately February 2021. [1] There may or may not be a continuation of the ZeroNet project in form of a software fork. [2] These are undocumented.


The ZeroNet wiki describes the software design: [3] uses Bitcoin cryptography and BitTorrent technology to build a decentralized censorship-resistant network. Users can publish static or dynamic websites in ZeroNet and visitors can choose to also serve the website. Websites will remain online even if it is being served by only one peer.

This means users are not identified or reachable by an IP address, since they are identified by a public key - specifically a public Bitcoin address. The private key owner can sign and publish changes, which are propagated through the network. Sites are accessed through an ordinary browser in combination with the Zeronet application. [4] The BitTorrent technology refers to the use of trackers to negotiate peer connections. [5] ZeroNet can be optionally configured to use Tor for anonymity. [6]

The Zeronet wiki describes various features and benefits, including: [3]

  • Password-less authorization - the user account is protected by the same cryptography that applies to Bitcoin wallets.
  • Easy setup. [7]
  • Immediate updating of sites in real time.
  • Works with any browser.
  • Full Tor network support, including onion services.
  • Content cannot be censored (removed) after publication.
  • It is impossible to shut down content, since content is served by any user who wishes to.
  • ZeroNet is fast and works offline.

Connecting to Tor before ZeroNet[edit]

These instructions lead to the following connection scheme in Whonix ™:



Ambox notice.png This application requires incoming connections through a Tor onion service. Supported Whonix-Gateway ™ modifications are therefore necessary for full functionality; see instructions below.

For better security, consider using Multiple Whonix-Gateway ™ and Multiple Whonix-Workstation ™. In any case, Whonix ™ is the safest choice for running it. [8]

onion-grater Adjustments[edit]

Complete the following steps in Whonix-Gateway ™ (sys-whonix).

Extend the onion-grater whitelist in Whonix-Gateway ™ (sys-whonix).

On Whonix-Gateway ™.

Add onion-grater profile.

sudo onion-grater-add 40_zeronet

Modify Firewall Settings[edit]

Modify the Whonix-Workstation ™ (anon-whonix) user firewall settings and reload them.

1. Modify Whonix-Workstation ™ User Firewall Settings

Note: If no changes have yet been made to Whonix ™ Firewall Settings, then the Whonix ™ User Firewall Settings File /etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf appears empty (because it does not exist). This is expected.

If using Qubes-Whonix ™, complete these steps.
In Whonix-Workstation ™ App Qube. Make sure folder /usr/local/etc/whonix_firewall.d exists.

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/whonix_firewall.d

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q")Whonix-Workstation ™ App Qube (commonly called anon-whonix)Whonix ™ User Firewall Settings

If using a graphical Whonix-Workstation ™, complete these steps.

Start MenuApplicationsSystemUser Firewall Settings

If using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation ™, complete these steps.

Open file /usr/local/etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf with root rights.

sudoedit /usr/local/etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf

For more help, press on Expand on the right.

Note: This is for informational purposes only! Do not edit /etc/whonix_firewall.d/30_whonix_workstation_default.conf.

The Whonix ™ Global Firewall Settings File /etc/whonix_firewall.d/30_whonix_workstation_default.conf contains default settings and explanatory comments about their purpose. By default, the file is opened read-only and is not meant to be directly edited. Below, it is recommended to open the file without root rights. The file contains an explanatory comment on how to change firewall settings.

## Please use "/etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf" for your custom configuration,
## which will override the defaults found here. When {{project_name_long}} is updated, this
## file may be overwritten.

Also see: Whonix modular flexible .d style configuration folders.

To view the file, follow these instructions.

If using Qubes-Whonix ™, complete these steps.

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q")Template: whonix-ws-16Whonix Global Firewall Settings

If using a graphical Whonix-Workstation ™, complete these steps.

Start MenuApplicationsSettingsGlobal Firewall Settings

If using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation ™, complete these steps.

In Whonix-Workstation ™, open the whonix_firewall configuration file in an editor. nano /etc/whonix_firewall.d/30_whonix_workstation_default.conf

2. Open required external ports.



Save the file.

3. Reload Whonix-Workstation ™ Firewall.

If you are using Qubes-Whonix ™, complete the following steps.

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q")Whonix-Workstation ™ App Qube (commonly named anon-whonix)Reload Whonix ™ Firewall

If you are using a graphical Whonix-Workstation ™, complete the following steps.

Start MenuApplicationsSystemReload Whonix ™ Firewall

If you are using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation ™, run. sudo whonix_firewall

Install Dependencies[edit]

Run the following commands in Whonix-Workstation ™ terminal (Qubes-Whonix ™: whonix-ws-16 Template).

Update the package lists.

sudo apt update

Install dependencies. [9]

sudo apt install git python3-pip python3-msgpack

Retrieve the Signing Key[edit]

Run the following command in Whonix-Workstation ™ terminal (Qubes-Whonix ™: anon-whonix AppVM).

Retrieve the ZeroNet signing key. [10]

notice Digital signatures can increase security but this requires knowledge. Learn more about digital software signature verification.

Securely download the signing key.


Display the key's fingerprint.

gpg --keyid-format long --import --import-options show-only --with-fingerprint tamas@zeronet.io_pub.asc

Verify the fingerprint. It should show.

Key fingerprint = 960F FF2D 6C14 5AA6 13E8 491B 5B63 BAE6 CB96 13AE

The most important check is confirming the key fingerprint exactly matches the output above. [11]

warning Warning:

Do not continue if the fingerprint does not match! This risks using infected or erroneous files! The whole point of verification is to confirm file integrity.

Add the signing key.

gpg --import tamas@zeronet.io_pub.asc

Install ZeroNet[edit]

Run the following commands in Whonix-Workstation ™ terminal (Qubes-Whonix ™: anon-whonix AppVM).

ZeroNet is not yet packaged for Debian, so it must be manually installed. [12] [13]

Download ZeroNet.

git clone

Navigate to the ZeroNet folder.

cd ZeroNet

Check the ZeroNet signature.

git log --show-signature

Install dependencies of ZeroNet. There is currently no better way than using a third party repository and third party package manager pip. [14]

warning Security warning: Adding a third party repository and/or installing third-party software allows the vendor to replace any software on your system. Including but not limited to the installation of malware, deleting files and data harvesting. Proceed at your own risk! See also Foreign Sources for further information. For greater safety, users adding third party repositories should always use Multiple Whonix-Workstation ™ to compartmentalize VMs with additional software.

sudo python3 -m pip install -r requirements.txt

Launch ZeroNet[edit]

1. Launch the ZeroNet process.

Qubes-Whonix ™:

./ --tor always --fileserver_ip $(qubesdb-read /qubes-ip)

Non-Qubes-Whonix ™:

./ --tor always --fileserver_ip

2. Launch Tor Browser.

Start Tor Browser.

If you are using Qubes-Whonix ™.

Qubes Start MenuWhonix-Workstation ™ AppVM (commonly called anon-whonix)Tor Browser

If you are using Non-Qubes-Whonix ™.

Start MenuTor Browser

If you are using a terminal (Konsole).


3. Adjust Tor Browser's configuration.

Note: The following steps will no longer be required once Whonix ™ releases a custom Tor Browser for connecting to alternative networks. [15]

Configure Tor Browser to connect to localhost.

Ambox warning pn.svg.png Warning:

  • This step changes the web fingerprint of Tor Browser!
  • Leave all other settings as is!

In Tor Browser:

  1. Type about:config into the URL bar.
  2. Press Enter
  3. Search for network.proxy.no_proxies_on
  4. Set to 0
  5. Search for network.proxy.allow_hijacking_localhost
  6. Set to false

4. Navigate to the ZeroNet web interface.

Paste The Web Archive into Tor Browser's URL field and press Enter. For additional tips on visiting sites, see: How does it work?

The process is now complete and ZeroNet should be fully functional in Whonix ™. [16]

Figure: ZeroNet Homepage in Whonix ™


Popular ZeroNet Sites[edit]

Some popular ZeroNet sites include: [17]


The homepage of ZeroNet.


End-to-end encrypted, distributed, P2P messaging site. To improve privacy it uses a BitMessage-like solution and will not expose the message recipient.


Self publishing blog demo.


Decentralized, P2P forum demo.


Decentralized, Twitter-like P2P social network.


The finished site for the tutorial of creating a server-less, SQL backed, real-time updated P2P chat application using ZeroNet in less than 100 lines of code.


  1. 3.0 3.1
  2. ZeroNet acts as a local web server for these pages.
  5. Although the Chinese government has blocked the ZeroNet website and bittorrent tracker.
  6. Security considerations:
    • By using Whonix ™, additional protections are in place for greater security.
    • This application requires access to Tor's control protocol.
    • In the Whonix ™ context, Tor's control protocol has dangerous features. The Tor control command GETINFO address reveals the real, external IP of the Tor client.
    • Whonix ™ provides onion-grater, a Tor Control Port Filter Proxy - filtering dangerous Tor Control Port commands.
    • When this application is run inside Whonix-Gateway ™ with an onion-grater whitelist extension, this will limit Whonix-Workstation ™ application rights to Tor control protocol access only. Non-whitelisted Tor control commands such as GETINFO address are rejected by onion-grater in these circumstances. In the event Whonix-Workstation ™, it can't determine its own IP address via requesting to Tor Controller, as onion-grater filters the reply.
    • In comparison, if the application is run on a non-Tor focused operating system like Debian, it will have unlimited access to Tor's control protocol (a less secure configuration).
    • If the (non-)Whonix platform is used to host onion services, then running applications are more vulnerable to attacks against the Tor network compared to when Tor is solely used as a client; see also Onion Services Security.
    In conclusion, Whonix ™ is the safest and correct choice for running this application.
  7. Is python3-msgpack still reuqired?
  8. Minor changes in the output such as new uids (email addresses) or newer expiration dates are inconsequential.
  11. ZeroNet dependencies are not available in Debian.
  12. Except in the case of YaCy, which needs internet access.
  13. Functionality was last confirmed in mid-2020.

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