Environment Variables

ElectrumX takes no command line arguments, instead its behaviour is controlled by environment variables. Only a few are required to be given, the rest will have sensible defaults if not specified. Many of the defaults around resource usage are conservative; I encourage you to review them.

Note

set SERVICES appropriately to be able to connect to your server. For clients across the internet to know what services you offer you must advertize your services with REPORT_SERVICES.

Required

These environment variables are always required:

COIN

Must be a NAME from one of the Coin classes in lib/coins.py.

DB_DIRECTORY

The path to the database directory. Relative paths should be relative to the parent process working directory. This is the directory of the run script if you use it.

DAEMON_URL

A comma-separated list of daemon URLs. If more than one is provided ElectrumX will initially connect to the first, and failover to subsequent ones round-robin style if one stops working.

The generic form of a daemon URL is:

http://username:password@hostname:port/

The leading http:// is optional, as is the trailing slash. The :port part is also optional and will default to the standard RPC port for COIN and NET if omitted.

For the run script

The following are required if you use the run script:

ELECTRUMX

The path to the electrumx_server script. Relative paths should be relative to the directory of the run script.

USERNAME

The username the server will run as.

Services

These two environment variables are comma-separated lists of individual services.

A service has the general form:

protocol://host:port

protocol is case-insensitive. The recognised protocols are:

tcp    Plaintext TCP sockets
ssl    SSL-encrypted TCP sockets
ws     Plaintext websockets
wss    SSL-encrypted websockets
rpc    Plaintext RPC

In a services list, a protocol can be specified multiple times, with different hosts or ports. This might be useful for multi-homed hosts, or if you offer both Tor and clearnet services.

host can be a hostname, an IPv4 address, or an IPv6 address enclosed in square brackets.

port is an integer from 1 to 65535 inclusive.

Where documented, one or more of protocol, host and port can be omitted, in which case a default value will be assumed.

Here are some examples of valid services:

tcp://host.domain.tld:50001           # Hostname, lowercase protocol, port
SSL://23.45.67.78:50002               # An IPv4 address, upper-case protocol, port
rpC://localhost                       # Host as a string, mixed-case protocol, default port
ws://[1234:5678:abcd::5601]:8000      # Host as an IPv6 address
wss://h3ubaasdlkheryasd.onion:50001   # Host as a Tor ".onion" address
rpc://:8000                           # Default host, port given
host.domain.tld:5151                  # Default protocol, hostname, port
rpc://                                # RPC protocol, default host and port

Note

ElectrumX will not serve any incoming connections until it has fully caught up with your bitcoin daemon. The only exception is local RPC connections, which are served at any time after the server has initialized.

SERVICES

A comma-separated list of services ElectrumX will accept incoming connections for.

This environment variable determines what interfaces and ports the server listens on, so must be set correctly for any connection to the server to succeed. If unset or empty, ElectrumX will not listen for any incoming connections.

protocol can be any recognised protocol.

host defaults to all of the machine’s interfaces, except if the protocol is rpc, when it defaults to localhost.

port can only be defaulted for rpc where the default is 8000.

If any listed service has protocol ssl or wss then SSL_CERTFILE and SSL_KEYFILE must be defined.

Tor onion addresses are invalid in SERVICES.

Here is an example value of the SERVICES environment variable:

tcp://:50001,ssl://:50002,wss://:50004,rpc://

This serves tcp, ssl, wss on all interfaces on ports 50001, 50002 and 50004 respectively. rpc is served on its default host localhost and default port 8000.

REPORT_SERVICES

A comma-separated list of services ElectrumX will advertize and other servers in the server network (if peer discovery is enabled), and any successful connection.

This environment variable must be set correctly, taking account of your network, firewall and router setup, for clients and other servers to see how to connect to your server. If not set or empty, no services are advertized.

The rpc protocol, special IP addresses (inlcuding private ones if peer discovery is enabled), and localhost are invalid in REPORT_SERVICES.

Here is an example value of the REPORT_SERVICES environment variable:

tcp://sv.usebsv.com:50001,ssl://sv.usebsv.com:50002,wss://sv.usebsv.com:50004

This advertizes tcp, ssl, wss services at sv.usebsv.com on ports 50001, 50002 and 50004 respectively.

Note

Certificate Authority-signed certificates don’t work over Tor, so you should only have Tor services` in REPORT_SERVICES if yours is self-signed.

SSL_CERTFILE

The filesystem path to your SSL certificate file.

Creating a self-signed SSL certificate

SSL_KEYFILE

The filesystem path to your SSL key file.

Creating a self-signed SSL certificate

Miscellaneous

These environment variables are optional:

LOG_FORMAT

The Python logging format string to use. Defaults to %(levelname)s:%(name)s:%(message)s.

LOG_LEVEL

The default Python logging level, a case-insensitive string. Useful values are ‘debug’, ‘info’, ‘warning’ and ‘error’.

ALLOW_ROOT

Set this environment variable to anything non-empty to allow running ElectrumX as root.

NET

Must be a NET from one of the Coin classes in lib/coins.py. Defaults to mainnet.

DB_ENGINE

Database engine for the UTXO and history database. The default is leveldb. The other alternative is rocksdb. You will need to install the appropriate python package for your engine. The value is not case sensitive.

DONATION_ADDRESS

The server donation address reported to Electrum clients. Defaults to empty, which Electrum interprets as meaning there is none.

BANNER_FILE

The path to a banner file to serve to clients in Electrum’s “Console” tab. Relative file paths must be relative to DB_DIRECTORY. The banner file is re-read for each new client.

You can place several meta-variables in your banner file, which will be replaced before serving to a client.

  • $SERVER_VERSION is replaced with the ElectrumX version you are running, such as 1.0.10.
  • $SERVER_SUBVERSION is replaced with the ElectrumX user agent string. For example, ElectrumX 1.0.10.
  • $DAEMON_VERSION is replaced with the daemon’s version as a dot-separated string. For example 0.12.1.
  • $DAEMON_SUBVERSION is replaced with the daemon’s user agent string. For example, /BitcoinUnlimited:0.12.1(EB16; AD4)/.
  • $DONATION_ADDRESS is replaced with the address from the DONATION_ADDRESS environment variable.

See here for a script that updates a banner file periodically with useful statistics about fees, last block time and height, etc.

TOR_BANNER_FILE

As for BANNER_FILE (which is also the default) but shown to incoming connections believed to be to your Tor hidden service.

ANON_LOGS

Set to anything non-empty to replace IP addresses in logs with redacted text like xx.xx.xx.xx:xxx. By default IP addresses will be written to logs.

LOG_SESSIONS

The number of seconds between printing session statistics to the log. The output is identical to the sessions RPC command except that ANON_LOGS is honoured. Defaults to 3600. Set to zero to suppress this logging.

REORG_LIMIT

The maximum number of blocks to be able to handle in a chain reorganisation. ElectrumX retains some fairly compact undo information for this many blocks in levelDB. The default is a function of COIN and NET; for Bitcoin mainnet it is 200.

EVENT_LOOP_POLICY

The name of an event loop policy to replace the default asyncio policy, if any. At present only uvloop is accepted, in which case you must have installed the uvloop Python package.

If you are not sure what this means leave it unset.

DROP_CLIENT

Set a regular expression to disconnect any client based on their version string. For example to drop versions from 1.0 to 1.2 use the regex 1\.[0-2]\.\d+.

Resource Usage Limits

The following environment variables are all optional and help to limit server resource consumption and prevent simple DoS.

Address subscriptions in ElectrumX are very cheap - they consume about 160 bytes of memory each and are processed efficiently. I feel the two subscription-related defaults below are low and encourage you to raise them.

MAX_SESSIONS

The maximum number of incoming connections. Once reached, TCP and SSL listening sockets are closed until the session count drops naturally to 95% of the limit. Defaults to 1,000.

MAX_SEND

The maximum size of a response message to send over the wire, in bytes. Defaults to 1,000,000 (except for AuxPoW coins, which default to 10,000,000). Values smaller than 350,000 are taken as 350,000 because standard Electrum protocol header “chunk” requests are almost that large.

The Electrum protocol has a flaw in that address histories must be served all at once or not at all, an obvious avenue for abuse. MAX_SEND is a stop-gap until the protocol is improved to admit incremental history requests. Each history entry is approximately 100 bytes so the default is equivalent to a history limit of around 10,000 entries, which should be ample for most legitimate users. If you use a higher default bear in mind one client can request history for multiple addresses. Also note that the largest raw transaction you will be able to serve to a client is just under half of MAX_SEND, as each raw byte becomes 2 hexadecimal ASCII characters on the wire. Very few transactions on Bitcoin mainnet are over 500KB in size.

COST_SOFT_LIMIT
COST_HARD_LIMIT
REQUEST_SLEEP
INITIAL_CONCURRENT

All values are integers. COST_SOFT_LIMIT defaults to 1,000, COST_HARD_LIMIT to 10,000, REQUEST_SLEEP to 2,500 milliseconds, and INITIAL_CONCURRENT to 10 concurrent requests.

The server prices each request made to it based upon an estimate of the resources needed to process it. Factors include whether the request uses bitcoind, how much bandwidth it uses, and how hard it hits the databases.

To set a base for the units, a blockchain.scripthash.subscribe() subscription to an address with a history of 2 or fewer transactions is costed at 1.0 before considering the bandwidth consumed. server.ping() is costed at 0.1.

As the total cost of a session goes over the soft limit, its requests start to be throttled in two ways. First, the number of requests for that session that the server will process concurrently is reduced. Second, each request starts to sleep a little before being handled.

Before throttling starts, the server will process up to INITIAL_CONCURRENT requests concurrently without sleeping. As the session cost ranges from COST_SOFT_LIMIT to COST_HARD_LIMIT, concurrency drops linearly to zero and each request’s sleep time increases linearly up to REQUEST_SLEEP milliseconds. Once the hard limit is reached, the session is disconnected.

In order that non-abusive sessions can continue to be served, a session’s cost gradually decays over time. Subscriptions have an ongoing servicing cost, so the decay is slower as the number of subscriptions increases.

If a session disconnects, ElectrumX continues to associate its cost with its IP address, so if it immediately reconnects it will re-acquire its previous cost allocation.

A server operator should experiment with different values according to server loads. It is not necessarily true that e.g. having a low soft limit, decreasing concurrency and increasing sleep will help handling heavy loads, as it will also increase the backlog of requests the server has to manage in memory. It will also give a much worse experience for genuine connections.

BANDWIDTH_UNIT_COST

The number of bytes, sent and received, by a session that is deemed to cost 1.0.

The default value 5,000 bytes, meaning the bandwidth cost assigned to a response of 100KB is 20. If your bandwidth is cheap you should probably raise this.

REQUEST_TIMEOUT

An integer number of seconds defaulting to 30. If a request takes longer than this to respond to, either because of request limiting or because the request is expensive, the server rejects it and returns a timeout error to the client indicating that the server is busy.

This can help prevent large backlogs of unprocessed requests building up under heavy load.

SESSION_TIMEOUT

An integer number of seconds defaulting to 600. Sessions that have not sent a request for longer than this are disconnected. Properly functioning clients should send a server.ping() request once roughly 450 seconds have passed since the previous request, in order to avoid disconnection.

Peer Discovery

In response to the server.peers.subscribe() RPC call, ElectrumX will only return peer servers that it has recently connected to and verified basic functionality.

If you are not running a Tor proxy ElectrumX will be unable to connect to onion server peers, in which case rather than returning no onion peers it will fall back to a hard-coded list.

To give incoming clients a full range of onion servers you will need to be running a Tor proxy for ElectrumX to use.

ElectrumX will perform peer-discovery by default and announce itself to other peers. If your server is private you may wish to disable some of this.

PEER_DISCOVERY

This environment variable is case-insensitive and defaults to on.

If on, ElectrumX will occasionally connect to and verify its network of peer servers.

If off, peer discovery is disabled and a hard-coded default list of servers will be read in and served. If set to self then peer discovery is disabled and the server will only return itself in the peers list.

PEER_ANNOUNCE

Set this environment variable to empty to disable announcing itself. If not defined, or non-empty, ElectrumX will announce itself to peers.

If peer discovery is disabled this environment variable has no effect, because ElectrumX only announces itself to peers when doing peer discovery if it notices it is not present in the peer’s returned list.

FORCE_PROXY

By default peer discovery happens over the clear internet. Set this to non-empty to force peer discovery to be done via the proxy. This might be useful if you are running a Tor service exclusively and wish to keep your IP address private.

TOR_PROXY_HOST

The host where your Tor proxy is running. Defaults to localhost.

If you are not running a Tor proxy just leave this environment variable undefined.

TOR_PROXY_PORT

The port on which the Tor proxy is running. If not set, ElectrumX will autodetect any proxy running on the usual ports 9050 (Tor), 9150 (Tor browser bundle) and 1080 (socks).

BLACKLIST_URL

URL to retrieve a list of blacklisted peers. If not set, a coin- specific default is used.

Cache

If synchronizing from the Genesis block your performance might change by tweaking the cache size. Cache size is only checked roughly every minute, so the cache can grow beyond the specified size. Moreover, the Python process is often quite a bit fatter than the cache size, because of Python overhead and also because leveldb consumes a lot of memory when flushing. So I recommend you do not set this over 60% of your available physical RAM:

CACHE_MB

The amount of cache, in MB, to use. The default is 1,200.

A portion of the cache is reserved for unflushed history, which is written out frequently. The bulk is used to cache UTXOs.

Larger caches probably increase performance a little as there is significant searching of the UTXO cache during indexing. However, I don’t see much benefit in my tests pushing this too high, and in fact performance begins to fall, probably because LevelDB already caches, and also because of Python GC.

I do not recommend raising this above 2000.