Skycoin – Skywire VPN

Back in February we created the Pine64 miner, who has witnessed great interest among the Skycoin community ever since.1 However, when we set everything up back then, it was not possible to connect the miner to a network after we installed the Skywire software. That has changed a few weeks ago, when we could connect our miner to a network for the first time. I was not sure, if this is a beta testnet prior to the ‘real’ testnet, but it seems like this is indeed the long awaited testnet of Skywire.2 Since the start of the network, an increasing number of nodes went online and connected to the two discovery addresses. During the last few days, there was a total of about 600-700 nodes online. While this network is still in a very early stage, one function that is already available is the possibility to gain access to the internet via VPN using other nodes in the network.

Skywire VPN for Providers
In case you want to participate in the Skywire network, you need to connect a node to the network. You either need an official Skyminer or a so-called DIY miner, that can be plugged into the network. As soon as you have either one of those, have set up the operating system and the Skywire software on your node(s), you can connect to a discovery address. Currently, there are two discovery addresses working.3 In case the connection to the discovery address has been successful, your node(s) are now part of the Skywire network. As of right now, every node in the Skywire network can be used as a node to gain access to the internet. That means, that other nodes can connect to your node and use your node as a VPN.
Skywire VPN as a User
Your nodes do not only act as a provider of bandwidth, you can also use the VPN by yourself. The easiest way is probably to install the Firefox plugin Foxyproxy and add your node as a proxy in there.4 In the Foxyproxy menu, you need to go to “Add” and insert the IP address of one of your nodes. As a port, number 9443 was working for us. For encryption, choose SOCKS5. After that, you need to click save and then enable this proxy address in Foxyproxy for all URLs. Then you need to head over to the Skywire manager and connect the node you want to use as a proxy to another node in the discovery list, that you want to use as a VPN.5 And voilĂ : When you are going back to Firefox, you are now accessing websites through the node you have connected to. You can quickly verify this by visiting with enabled Foxyproxy. The site should now no longer show your IP address, but the IP address of the node you connected to, which means your internet service provider can no longer track your online behavior.
Once you have set up your Skywire node with an official Skyminer or a DIY miner and connected the nodes to a discovery address, you are now available as a bandwidth provider to other nodes in the network. Every node in the network has the possibility to connect to your node and use it as a VPN. Consequently, it is also possible for you to connect to every other node in the network and use it as a VPN. Right now, there are about 600 nodes online, but when you consider the 300 miners being shipped with each containing 8 nodes as well as the growing number of DIY miners, we might see 3000 nodes very soon, which will give every user in the network numerous possibilities to stay anonymous online.
“After looking at the specification of the official first-gen Skyminer, we went on to build a more compact one with the use of Sopine modules on top of a Pine64 clusterboard.”
Christian Ott; Official Website; Pine64 Skyminer; 10.04.2018
“Testnet has already been running for months … No one announced it; it was supposed to be announced at the shanghai conference but was not announced because of marketing fail.”
Synth; Telegram; Skycoin main channel; 25.04.2018
I am not going to post the discovery addresses here, since they might be already outdated when you are reading this article. You can find them either in the Skywire telegram or on the Skywire Github page.
Christian Ott; 01.05.2018
“Use Firefox Browser – Install FoxyProxy Standard”
Skycoin/Skywire; Github;; 12.04.2018
It can be a bit tricky to match the public key of your node(s) to the IP addresses of your nodes. As a quick solution, I noted the public keys and IP addresses of my nodes and unplugged one after the other to see, which IP address and public key disappeared and were therefore matching.
Christian Ott; 01.05.2018