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Earthstar

Server guide

An Earthstar server is an always-online peer which can synchronise with other Earthstar peers over the internet.

It's also just a server, so it can handle requests from browsers and serve back responses, e.g. HTML pages made from data on your Earthstar shares.

An Earthstar server is configured with extensions which give the server its capabilities. For example: syncing over the web, reading a list of shares to host from disk, or serving share attachments over HTTP.

About shares and discoverability

Earthstar peers only sync shares they have in common, and they do this without revealing to each other what those shares are. If a peer connects and wants to sync their +gardening share with the server, the server will need to know about that share's address ahead of time to do so.

Configuring the server's shares is done with extensions like ExtensionKnownShares, which pulls a list of shares to host from a JSON file, or ExtensionServerSettings which reads server configuration data from a share.

About shares, hosting, and secrets

Earthstar servers are able to sync share data without having to know the secret for that share. All they need to be able to do is validate data with the share's public address.

What this means is that you can rehost shares you like and support the Earthstar ecosystem without having to convince people to hand over their secrets (you just need to convince them to share their addresses).

It also means that there's no way to steal share secrets from a server — as those credentials were never there to begin with.

Installation

For Deno:

import { Server } from "https://deno.land/x/earthstar/mod.ts";

Earthstar's syncing does not work with version of Deno between 1.27.0 - 1.28.1 (inclusive) due to a regression in these versions' WebSocket implementation.

For NPM:

npm install @earthstar-project/server
import { Server } from "earthstar/node";

Setting up a server

Here's how to run a basic server which creates replicas from a list of shares on disk, and is able to sync over the web.

import {
  ExtensionKnownShares,
  ExtensionSyncWeb,
  Server,
} from "https://deno.land/x/earthstar/mod.ts";

const server = new Server([
  new ExtensionKnownShares({
    // known_shares.json contains a JSON array of public share addresses.
    knownSharesPath: "./known_shares.json",
    // Persist share data to disk with ReplicaDriverFs
    onCreateReplica: (shareAddress) => {
      return new Earthstar.Replica({
        driver: new ReplicaDriverFs(shareAddress, "./share_data"),
      });
    },
  }),
  new ExtensionSyncWeb(),
]);

This looks a little bit different on Node, due to Node's server APIs have a very different shape:

import {
  ExtensionKnownShares,
  ExtensionSyncWeb,
  Replica,
  ReplicaDriverFs,
  Server,
} from "earthstar";
import { createServer } from "http";

const nodeServer = createServer();

const server = new Server([
  new ExtensionKnownShares({
    // known_shares.json contains a JSON array of public share addresses.
    knownSharesPath: "./known_shares.json",
    // Persist share data to disk with ReplicaDriverFs
    onCreateReplica: (shareAddress) => {
      return new Earthstar.Replica({
        driver: new ReplicaDriverFs(shareAddress, "./share_data"),
      });
    },
  }),
  new ExtensionSyncWeb({ server: nodeServer }),
], { server: nodeServer });

The Node version of the Server API may not be able to support extensions which use streaming responses, due to Node servers not using the same standard Fetch API types which server extensions make use of.

Extensions

The order in which you specify extensions matters, as some extensions may do something which another extension depends upon, e.g. ExtensionKnownShares sets up replicas which ExtensionServeContent will serve content from.

Equally, requests will fall through extensions, returning on the first match. So sync extensions like ExtensionSyncHttp should come before ExtensionServeContent, so that requests to sync aren't swallowed.

ExtensionKnownShares

This extension configures which shares a server knows about and can sync. Earthstar peers can only sync shares they both know about beforehand, protecting your server from syncing data with strangers. The known share list is pulled from a JSON file on disk, and you can specify how the extension should create corresponding replicas for the shares.

ExtensionSyncWeb

Makes it possible for Earthstar peers to sync with your server over a HTTP connection.

ExtensionServeContent

This extension will translate requests to the server to documents of a share of your choice, so a request for https://my.server/posts/page.html will make this extension fetch /posts/page.html from a replica, and serve it back in the response. It'll do the same with text, images, videos, music and more.

ExtensionServerSettings

This extension reads server settings from a specified share, allowing those settings to be modified externally by other peers. These settings are adjusted dynamically so that changes are reflected as soon as changes to the share is made.

Developing your own extensions

Your extension needs to implement the interface IServerExtension, which has two methods:

You can use your extension's constructor as a place for configuring the extension before it's registered.

Extensions can be very simple or complex. ExtensionKnownShares is less than 50 lines of code.

Here's a simple extension which would display a message showing the number of shares when a user would make a request to /share-count:

class ShareCounterExtension implements IServerExtension {
  private greeting: string;
  private peer: Earthstar.Peer;

  constructor(greeting: string) {
    // Set the user's greeting to a private variable.
    this.greeting = greeting;
  }

  register(peer: Earthstar.Peer) {
    // Set the server's peer to a private variable.
    this.peer = peer;

    // We could also do other stuff here, like start a new process in the background.
  }

  request(req: Request) {
    const url = new URL(req.url);

    // Check if the request is for `/share-count`
    if (url.pathname === "/share-count") {
      const shareCount = this.peer.replicas.length;

      // Serve up the greeting along with the number of shares on the server.
      return new Response(
        `${this.greeting}. This server is serving ${shareCount} shares!`,
      );
    }

    // Or pass the request on to the next extension.
    return Promise.resolve<null>;
  }
}

Deploying a server

Deploying the server

You will want to deploy our server to a machine with a publicly reachable IP address.

Below is an example Dockerfile which will run a server which reads shares to host with a known_share.json and persists share data to a directory called data:

FROM denoland/deno:1.30.0

EXPOSE 8080
EXPOSE 443

WORKDIR /app

RUN mkdir /app/data/
	
VOLUME [ "/app/data" ]

COPY server.ts ./server.ts
COPY known_shares.json ./known_shares.json

USER deno

RUN deno cache --no-check=remote server.ts
CMD ["run", "--allow-all", "--no-check", "server.ts"]

And example contents of server.ts:

import {
  ExtensionKnownShares,
  ExtensionSyncWeb,
  Server,
} from "https://deno.land/x/earthstar/mod.ts";

const server = new Server([
  new ExtensionKnownShares({
    // known_shares.json contains a JSON array of public share addresses.
    knownSharesPath: "./known_shares.json",
    // Persist share data to disk with ReplicaDriverFs
    onCreateReplica: (shareAddress) => {
      return new Earthstar.Replica({
        driver: new ReplicaDriverFs(shareAddress, "./share_data"),
      });
    },
  }),
  new ExtensionSync(),
], { port: 8000 });

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