[tor-dev] Proposal idea: Stop assigning (and eventually supporting) the Named flag

Sebastian Hahn hahn.seb at web.de
Fri Apr 18 18:29:24 UTC 2014

On 18 Apr 2014, at 19:52, Nick Mathewson <nickm at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> Imo we _should_ check through the code for things related to the Named
> flag, though, back through 0.2.3 or maybe 0.2.2.  Reasons:
>  * Private networks never worked very well with older tors.
>  * Maybe there's some piece of obscure functionality that breaks
> without naming authorities which we never tested on a private network.

Ok, here's round two then, with the Design section updated:

Filename: xxx-kill-named-flag.txt                                                                 
Title: Stop assigning (and eventually supporting) the Named flag
Authors: Sebastian Hahnn
Created: 10 April 2014
Target: 0.2.5
Status: Draft

1. Intro and motivation

  Currently, Tor supports the concept of linking a Tor relay's nickname
  to its identity key. This happens automatically as a new relay joins
  the network with a unique nickname, and keeps it for a while. To
  indicate that a nickname is linked to the presented identity, the
  directory authorities vote on a Named flag for all relays where they
  have such a link. Not all directory authorities are currently doing
  this - in fact, there are only two, gabelmoo and tor26.

  For a long time, we've been telling everyone to not rely on relay
  nicknames, even if the Named flag is assigned. This has two reasons:
  First off, it adds another trust requirement on the directory
  authorities, and secondly naming may change over time as relays go
  offline for substantial amounts of time.

  Now that a significant portion of the network is required to rotate
  their identity keys, few relays will keep their Named flag. We should
  use this chance to stop assigning Named flags.

2. Design

  None so far, but we should review older-but-still-supported Tor
  versions (down to 0.2.2.x) for potential issues. In theory, Tor
  clients already support consensuses without Named flags, and testing
  in private Tor networks has never revealed any issues in this regard,
  but we're unsure if there might be some functionality that isn't
  typically tested with private networks and could get broken now.

3. Implementation

  The gabelmoo and tor26 directory authorities can simply remove the
  NamingAuthoritativeDirectory configuration option to stop giving out
  Named flags. This will mean the consensus won't include Named and
  Unnamed flags any longer. The code collecting naming statistics is
  independent of Tor, so it can run a while longer to ensure Naming can
  be switched on if unforeseen issues arise.

  Once this has been shown to not cause any issues, support for the
  Named flag can be removed from the Tor client implementation, and
  support for the NamingAuthoritativeDirectory can be removed from the
  Tor directory authority implementation.

4. Open questions


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