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Nix packages and nixos modules including profiles to easily install featureful Bitcoin nodes. Work in progress.


nix-bitcoin.nix provides the two profiles "minimal" and "all":

  • minimal
    • bitcoind (pruned) with outbound connections through Tor and inbound connections through a hidden service
    • clightning with outbound connections through Tor, not listening
    • includes "nodeinfo" script which prints basic info about the node
    • adds non-root user "operator" which has access to bitcoin-cli and lightning-cli
  • all
    • adds clightning hidden service
    • liquid-daemon
    • lightning charge
    • nanopos
    • adds an index page using nginx to display node information and link to nanopos
    • spark-wallet
      • Notes: run nodeinfo to get its onion address and systemctl status spark-wallet to get the access key. When entering the onion address on the Android app don't forgot to prepend "http://"

The data directories can be found in /var/lib.

Installing profiles

The easiest way is to run nix-shell env.nix and then create a nixops deployment with the provided network.nix. Fix the FIXMEs in configuration.nix and deploy with nixops in nix-shell.

The "all" profile requires 15 GB of disk space and 2GB of memory.

Tutorial: install a nix-bitcoin node on Debian 9 Stretch in a VirtualBox

Install Dependencies

sudo apt-get install curl git gnupg2 dirmngr

Install Latest Nix with GPG Verification

curl -o install-nix-2.1.3 https://nixos.org/nix/install
curl -o install-nix-2.1.3.sig https://nixos.org/nix/install.sig
gpg2 --recv-keys B541D55301270E0BCF15CA5D8170B4726D7198DE
gpg2 --verify ./install-nix-2.1.3.sig
sh ./install-nix-2.1.3
. /home/user/.nix-profile/etc/profile.d/nix.sh

Add virtualbox.list to /etc/apt/sources.list.d

deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian stretch contrib

Add Oracle VirtualBox public key

wget https://www.virtualbox.org/download/oracle_vbox_2016.asc
gpg2 oracle_vbox_2016.asc

Proceed only if fingerprint reads B9F8 D658 297A F3EF C18D 5CDF A2F6 83C5 2980 AECF

sudo apt-key add oracle_vbox_2016.asc

Install virtualbox-5.2

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-5.2

Create Host Adapter in VirtualBox

Open VirtualBox
File -> Host Network Manager -> Create
This should create a hostadapter named vboxnet0

Clone this project

git clone https://github.com/jonasnick/nix-bitcoin
cd ~/nix-bitcoin

Setup environment

nix-shell env.nix

Create nixops deployment in nix-shell

nixops create network.nix network-vbox.nix -d bitcoin-node

Adjust configuration Open configuration.nix and remove FIXMEs. No custom boot options or hardware configuration is needed for a VM install.

Deploy Nixops in nix-shell

nixops deploy -d bitcoin-node

This will now create a nix-bitcoin node in a VirtualBox on your computer.

Nixops automatically creates a ssh key and adds it to your computer.

Access bitcoin-node through ssh in nix-shell.

nixops ssh operator@bitcoin-node


  • Q: When deploying or trying to SSH into the machine I see
    bitcoin-node> waiting for SSH...
    Received disconnect from port 22:2: Too many authentication failures
    • A: Somehow ssh-agent and nixops don't play well together (see also https://github.com/NixOS/nixops/issues/256), if you have a few keys already added to your ssh-agent. Killing and restarting the ssh-agent should fix the problem. Also make sure you don't have something like
    Host *
        PubkeyAuthentication no
    in your ssh config.
  • Q: When deploying to virtualbox for the first time I see
    bitcoin-node> Mar 19 09:22:27 bitcoin-node systemd[1]: Started Get NixOps SSH Key.
    bitcoin-node> Mar 19 09:22:27 bitcoin-node get-vbox-nixops-client-key-start[2226]: VBoxControl: error: Failed to connect to the guest property service, error VERR_INTERNAL_ERROR
    bitcoin-node> Mar 19 09:22:27 bitcoin-node systemd[1]: get-vbox-nixops-client-key.service: Main process exited, code=exited, status=1/FAILURE
    bitcoin-node> Mar 19 09:22:27 bitcoin-node systemd[1]: get-vbox-nixops-client-key.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.
    bitcoin-node> error: Traceback (most recent call last):
      File "/nix/store/6zyvpi0q6mvprycadz2dpdqag4742y18-python2.7-nixops-1.6pre0_abcdef/lib/python2.7/site-packages/nixops/deployment.py", line 731, in worker
        raise Exception("unable to activate new configuration")
    Exception: unable to activate new configuration
  • Q: I'm deploying to virtualbox it's not able to connect anymore.
    • A: Maybe the IP address of the box changed. Run nixops deploy --check to update nixops with the new IP address.
  • Q: The clightning service is running but when I try to use it (f.e. by running lightning-cli getinfo as user operator) all I get is lightning-cli: Connecting to 'lightning-rpc': Connection refused.
    • A: Check your clightning logs with journalctl -eu clightning. Do you see something like bitcoin-cli getblock ... false failed? Are you using pruned mode? That means that clightning hasn't seen all the blocks it needs to and it can't get that block because your node is pruned. If you're just setting up a new node you can systemctl stop clightning and wipe your /var/lib/clightning directory. Otherwise you need to reindex the Bitcoin node.
  • Q: My disk space is getting low due to nix.
    • A: run nix-collect-garbage -d