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codecov License


Zebra is the Zcash Foundation's independent, consensus-compatible implementation of the Zcash protocol, currently under development. Please join us on Discord if you'd like to find out more or get involved!

Alpha Releases

Every few weeks, we release a new Zebra alpha release.

The goals of the alpha release series are to:

  • participate in the Zcash network,
  • replicate the Zcash chain state,
  • implement the Zcash proof of work consensus rules, and
  • sync on Mainnet under excellent network conditions.

Currently, Zebra does not validate all the Zcash consensus rules. It may be unreliable on Testnet, and under less-than-perfect network conditions. See our current features and roadmap for details.

Getting Started

Building zebrad requires Rust, libclang, and a C++ compiler.

Detailed Build and Run Instructions

  1. Install cargo and rustc.
    • Using rustup installs the stable Rust toolchain, which zebrad targets.
  2. Install Zebra's build dependencies:
    • libclang: the libclang, libclang-dev, llvm, or llvm-dev packages, depending on your package manager
    • clang or another C++ compiler: g++, Xcode, or MSVC
  3. Run cargo install --locked --git https://github.com/ZcashFoundation/zebra --tag v1.0.0-alpha.19 zebrad
  4. Run zebrad start

If you're interested in testing out zebrad please feel free, but keep in mind that there is a lot of key functionality still missing.

Build Troubleshooting

If you're having trouble with:

  • dependencies:
    • install both libclang and clang - they are usually different packages
    • use cargo install without --locked to build with the latest versions of each dependency
  • libclang: check out the clang-sys documentation
  • g++ or MSVC++: try using clang or Xcode instead
  • rustc: use rustc 1.48 or later
    • Zebra does not have a minimum supported Rust version (MSRV) policy yet

System Requirements

We usually build zebrad on systems with:

  • 2+ CPU cores
  • 7+ GB RAM
  • 14+ GB of disk space

On many-core machines (like, 32-core) the build is very fast; on 2-core machines it's less fast.

We continuously test that our builds and tests pass on:

  • Windows Server 2019
  • macOS Big Sur 11.0
  • Ubuntu 18.04 / the latest LTS
  • Debian Buster

We usually run zebrad on systems with:

  • 4+ CPU cores
  • 16+ GB RAM
  • 50GB+ available disk space for finalized state
  • 100+ Mbps network connections

zebrad might build and run fine on smaller and slower systems - we haven't tested its exact limits yet.

Network Ports and Data Usage

By default, Zebra uses the following inbound TCP listener ports:

  • 8233 on Mainnet
  • 18233 on Testnet

If Zebra is configured with a specific listen_addr, it will advertise this address to other nodes for inbound connections.

Zebra makes outbound connections to peers on any port. But zcashd prefers peers on the default ports, so that it can't be used for DDoS attacks on other networks.

zebrad's typical network usage is:

  • initial sync: 30 GB download
  • ongoing updates: 10-50 MB upload and download per day, depending on peer requests

The major constraint we've found on zebrad performance is the network weather, especially the ability to make good connections to other Zcash network peers.

Current Features


  • synchronize the chain from peers
  • download gossiped blocks from peers
  • answer inbound peer requests for hashes, headers, and blocks


  • persist block, transaction, UTXO, and nullifier indexes
  • handle chain reorganizations

Proof of Work:

  • validate equihash, block difficulty threshold, and difficulty adjustment
  • validate transaction merkle roots

Validating proof of work increases the cost of creating a consensus split between zebrad and zcashd.

This release also implements some other Zcash consensus rules, to check that Zebra's validation architecture supports future work on a full validating node:

  • block and transaction structure
  • checkpoint-based verification up to and including Canopy activation
  • transaction validation (incomplete)
  • transaction cryptography (incomplete)
  • transaction scripts (incomplete)
  • batch verification (incomplete)


Zebra primarily depends on pure Rust crates, and some Rust/C++ crates:

Known Issues

There are a few bugs in Zebra that we're still working on fixing:

Zebra's state commits changes using database transactions. If you forcibly terminate it, or it panics, any incomplete changes will be rolled back the next time it starts.

Future Work

In 2021, we intend to finish validation, add RPC support, and add wallet integration. This phased approach allows us to test Zebra's independent implementation of the consensus rules, before asking users to entrust it with their funds.


  • full consensus rule validation
  • transaction mempool
  • wallet functionality
  • RPC functionality

Performance and Reliability:

  • reliable syncing on Testnet
  • reliable syncing under poor network conditions
  • batch verification
  • performance tuning


The Zebra website contains user documentation, such as how to run or configure Zebra, set up metrics integrations, etc., as well as developer documentation, such as design documents. We also render API documentation for the external API of our crates, as well as internal documentation for private APIs.


Unlike zcashd, which originated as a Bitcoin Core fork and inherited its monolithic architecture, Zebra has a modular, library-first design, with the intent that each component can be independently reused outside of the zebrad full node. For instance, the zebra-network crate containing the network stack can also be used to implement anonymous transaction relay, network crawlers, or other functionality, without requiring a full node.

At a high level, the fullnode functionality required by zebrad is factored into several components:

  • zebra-chain, providing definitions of core data structures for Zcash, such as blocks, transactions, addresses, etc., and related functionality. It also contains the implementation of the consensus-critical serialization formats used in Zcash. The data structures in zebra-chain are defined to enforce structural validity by making invalid states unrepresentable. For instance, the Transaction enum has variants for each transaction version, and it's impossible to construct a transaction with, e.g., spend or output descriptions but no binding signature, or, e.g., a version 2 (Sprout) transaction with Sapling proofs. Currently, zebra-chain is oriented towards verifying transactions, but will be extended to support creating them in the future.

  • zebra-network, providing an asynchronous, multithreaded implementation of the Zcash network protocol inherited from Bitcoin. In contrast to zcashd, each peer connection has a separate state machine, and the crate translates the external network protocol into a stateless, request/response-oriented protocol for internal use. The crate provides two interfaces:

    • an auto-managed connection pool that load-balances local node requests over available peers, and sends peer requests to a local inbound service, and
    • a connect_isolated method that produces a peer connection completely isolated from all other node state. This can be used, for instance, to safely relay data over Tor, without revealing distinguishing information.
  • zebra-script provides script validation. Currently, this is implemented by linking to the C++ script verification code from zcashd, but in the future we may implement a pure-Rust script implementation.

  • zebra-consensus performs semantic validation of blocks and transactions: all consensus rules that can be checked independently of the chain state, such as verification of signatures, proofs, and scripts. Internally, the library uses tower-batch to perform automatic, transparent batch processing of contemporaneous verification requests.

  • zebra-state is responsible for storing, updating, and querying the chain state. The state service is responsible for contextual verification: all consensus rules that check whether a new block is a valid extension of an existing chain, such as updating the nullifier set or checking that transaction inputs remain unspent.

  • zebrad contains the full node, which connects these components together and implements logic to handle inbound requests from peers and the chain sync process.

  • zebra-rpc and zebra-client will eventually contain the RPC and wallet functionality, but as mentioned above, our goal is to implement replication of chain state first before asking users to entrust Zebra with their funds.

All of these components can be reused as independent libraries, and all communication between stateful components is handled internally by internal asynchronous RPC abstraction ("microservices in one process").


Zebra has a responsible disclosure policy, which we encourage security researchers to follow.


Zebra is distributed under the terms of both the MIT license and the Apache License (Version 2.0).