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About

Zebra is the Zcash Foundation's independent, consensus-compatible implementation of a Zcash node, currently under development. It can be used to join the Zcash peer-to-peer network, which helps keeping Zcash working by validating and broadcasting transactions, and maintaining the Zcash blockchain state in a distributed manner.

Zcash is a cryptocurrency designed to preserve the user's privacy. If you just want to send and receive Zcash then you don't need to use Zebra directly. You can download a Zcash wallet application which will handle that for you.

Please join us on Discord if you'd like to find out more or get involved!

Using Zebra

You would want to run Zebra if you want to contribute to the Zcash network: the more nodes are run, the more reliable the network will be in terms of speed and resistance to denial of service attacks, for example.

Zebra aims to be faster, more secure, and more easily extensible than other Zcash implementations.

Release Candidates

Every few weeks, we release a new Zebra version.

Zebra's network stack is interoperable with zcashd, and Zebra implements all the features required to reach Zcash network consensus. Currently, Zebra validates all of the Zcash consensus rules for the NU5 network upgrade.

Zebra validates blocks and transactions, but needs extra software to generate them:

Getting Started

You can run Zebra using our Docker image. This command will run our latest release, and sync it to the tip:

docker run zfnd/zebra:1.0.0-rc.1

For more information, read our Docker documentation.

You can also:

Build Instructions

If you want to build zebrad yourself, you'll need Rust, libclang, a C++ compiler, and some other dependencies.

To run zebrad, follow the instructions to compile zebrad for your platform:

  1. Install cargo and rustc.
    • Zebra is tested with the latest stable Rust version. Earlier versions are not supported or tested. Any Zebra release can remove support for older Rust versions, without any notice. (Rust 1.59 and earlier are definitely not supported, due to missing features.)
  2. Install Zebra's build dependencies:
    • libclang: the libclang, libclang-dev, llvm, or llvm-dev packages (these packages will have different names depending on your package manager)
    • clang or another C++ compiler: g++ (all platforms) or Xcode (macOS)
  3. Run cargo install --locked --git https://github.com/ZcashFoundation/zebra --tag v1.0.0-rc.1 zebrad
  4. Run zebrad start (see Running Zebra for more information)

For more detailed instructions, refer to the documentation.

Configuring JSON-RPC for lightwalletd

To use zebrad as a lightwalletd backend, give it this ~/.config/zebrad.toml:

[rpc]
# listen for RPC queries on localhost
listen_addr = '127.0.0.1:8232'

# automatically use multiple CPU threads
parallel_cpu_threads = 0

WARNING: This config allows multiple Zebra instances to share the same RPC port. See the RPC config documentation for details.

Optional Features

For performance reasons, some debugging and monitoring features are disabled in release builds.

You can enable these features using:

cargo install --features=<name> ...

System Requirements

The recommended requirements for compiling and running zebrad are:

  • 4 CPU cores
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 300 GB available disk space for building binaries and storing cached chain state
  • 100 Mbps network connection, with 300 GB of uploads and downloads per month

We continuously test that our builds and tests pass on:

The latest GitHub Runners for:

  • macOS
  • Ubuntu

Docker:

  • Debian Bullseye

Zebra's tests can take over an hour, depending on your machine. We're working on making them faster.

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

For more detailed requirements, refer to the documentation.

Memory Troubleshooting

If Zebra's build runs out of RAM, try setting: export CARGO_BUILD_JOBS=2

If Zebra's tests timeout or run out of RAM, try running: cargo test -- --test-threads=2

(cargo uses all the processor cores on your machine by default.)

macOS Test Troubleshooting

Some of Zebra's tests deliberately cause errors that make Zebra panic. macOS records these panics as crash reports.

If you are seeing "Crash Reporter" dialogs during Zebra tests, you can disable them using this Terminal.app command:

defaults write com.apple.CrashReporter DialogType none

Network Ports and Data Usage

Zebra uses the following inbound and outbound TCP ports:

  • 8233 on Mainnet
  • 18233 on Testnet

Outbound connections are required to sync, inbound connections are optional. Zebra also needs access to the Zcash DNS seeders, via the OS DNS resolver (usually port 53).

Zebra needs some peers which have a round-trip latency of 2 seconds or less. If this is a problem for you, please open a ticket.

zebrad's typical mainnet network usage is:

  • Initial sync: 100 GB download, we expect the initial download to grow to hundreds of gigabytes over time
  • Ongoing updates: 10 MB - 10 GB upload and download per day, depending on user-created transaction size and peer requests

Zebra performs an initial sync every time its internal database version changes, so some version upgrades might require a full download of the whole chain.

For more detailed information, refer to the documentation.

Network Troubleshooting

Some of Zebra's tests download Zcash blocks, so they might be unreliable depending on your network connection. You can set ZEBRA_SKIP_NETWORK_TESTS=1 to skip the network tests.

Zebra may be unreliable on Testnet, and under less-than-perfect network conditions. See our roadmap for details.

Disk Usage

Zebra uses around 200 GB of space for cached mainnet data, and 10 GB of space for cached testnet data. We expect disk usage to grow over time, so we recommend reserving at least 300 GB for mainnet nodes.

Zebra's database cleans up outdated data periodically, and when Zebra is shut down and restarted.

Disk Troubleshooting

Zebra's state commits changes using RocksDB database transactions.

If you forcibly terminate Zebra, or it panics, any incomplete changes will be rolled back the next time it starts.

So Zebra's state should always be valid, unless your OS or disk hardware is corrupting data.

Known Issues

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

  • Zebra falsely estimates that it's close to the tip when the network connection goes down #4649

    • One of the consequences of this issue is that Zebra might add unwanted load to other peers when the connection goes back up. This load will last only for a short period of time because Zebra will quickly find out that it's still not close to the tip.
  • If Zebra fails downloading the Zcash parameters, use the Zcash parameters download script instead. This script might be needed on macOS, even with Rust stable.

  • No Windows support #3801

    • We used to test with Windows Server 2019, but not anymore; see issue for details
  • Experimental Tor support is disabled until arti-client upgrades to x25519-dalek 2.0.0 or later

    • This happens due to a Rust dependency conflict, which can only be resolved by changing the dependencies of x25519-dalek
  • Output of help, --help flag, and usage of invalid commands or options are inconsistent. Reports of these issues can be found here and are planned to be fixed in the context of upgrading Abscissa.

Future Work

Performance and Reliability:

  • Reliable syncing under poor network conditions
  • Additional batch verification
  • Performance tuning

Currently, the following features are out of scope:

  • Optional Zcash network protocol messages
  • Consensus rules removed before Canopy activation (Zebra checkpoints on Canopy activation)

Documentation

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.

Security

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

License

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

See LICENSE-APACHE and LICENSE-MIT.