Running a bitcoin node is part of your journey down the rabbit hole; not everyone is going to do it, but those that do have a responsibility to expand network decentralisation and provide non-custodial access to bitcoin for friends and family, as we see with the prevalence of the uncle Jim model.
As we scale out in layers, this piece of bitcoin infrastructure continues to grow in importance as is evident by how hands-on one needs to be when using second-layer solutions in a non-custodial fashion.
The Lightning Network sure has given the bitcoin node a pretty hefty amount of work to do these days. In contrast, full bitcoin nodes are essential for the network’s governance, consensus and oversight, many who run it were merely passive users, apart from signalling the odd upgrade. Today bitcoin node equipped with support for Liquid and Lightning is a far more robust tool for financial sovereignty and gives you much more control over your bitcoin experience.
While more control is great, it also comes with more responsibility, especially if you’re running a public node, you are doxxing a fair bit of financial data. In addition, the more active we communicate over the internet, the more we can create larger data footprints that aren’t ideal for privacy.
That metadata and financial data can be monitored and combined with plenty of agencies having a keen eye on where value flows in the bitcoin network. To help give your node a bit of coverage, you can run it through a VPN with a service like TunnelSats.
What is TunnelSats?
Tunnel⚡️Sats is a Lighting network-based service provider that offers ordinary node runners like you and me the option of pre-configured setup scripts for Lightning nodes. These scripts enable a hybrid mode through clearnet & Tor connectivity, and TunnelSats offers paid VPN servers in various continents and fixed periods.
Their VPNs come with automatically enabled forwarding ports that connect with other lightning nodes too. Currently, TunnelSats offers 100GB per month, which should be enough traffic even for bigger nodes with many channels.
Why the need for TunnelSats?
Providing Lightning Services is about privacy, reliability, connectivity, speed and liquidity. Relying on your node connectivity to a single service, Tor is a risk regarding connectivity and network stability, as anyone running a lightning node can testify to from experience.
With Hybrid connectivity, you offer your payment and routing services to be faster, and more reliable, and yet, there is a privacy concern when you do it with your home-IP: you both expose the rough location of your node, potentially your home and your node’s system to attacks from the internet.
With the TunnelSats solution, you get the best of both worlds.
Your node and home IP stay hidden, behind Tor, and our VPS public IP address, which will be your node’s face to the public internet, is shared with other peers. You may see higher reliability, causing not only higher uptime and fewer offline peer nodes but also greater routing numbers.
This isn’t a promise but an eventually expected outcome.
You also provide a better user experience for customers using lightning as a payment system, which you could argue is the biggest benefit.
How TunnelSats works?
TunnelSats is pretty simple to purchase a subscription; all you do is head over to their site, select the preferred continent and period and pay the invoice via lightning to receive the WireGuard configuration file.
Users can purchase subscriptions for:
- 1 Month
- 3 Months
- 6 months
- 12 Months
Once you have the file, download the setup script to automatically install the required components and configure your node setup for hybrid mode.
Why the need for TunnelSats?
The lightning network functions are growing at a rapid speed as infrastructure for payments across the globe between merchants, creators, consumers, institutions and investors alike. Hence the key pillars of sustained growth are their nodes, by providing reliable, liquid, discoverable, trustless and fast connection points between those parties.
For fast communication establishing clearnet connections between nodes is inevitable, but having the fast connections but also maintaining privacy is a toss up, unless you know how to bridge the two within your setup.
The effort of creating a valuable “clearnet over VPN” node is quite high and intense because it touches several disciplines, not every node runner is comfortable with. Required knowledge of the command line, firewall handling, network details, trust in and choosing of a suitable VPN provider that offers all the features we need and cares about privacy and security and, of course, the configuration of the lightning node itself makes it easy to just “leave it as is”.
TunnelSats wants to remove all that complexity and create a process has to make it as easy as possible to go hybrid.
What is the benefit of TunnelSats?
Running a lightning node behind a VPN requires a range of features public VPN providers usually do not offer. Tunnel⚡Sats is specially designed for the lightning node use case in mind. So we pack up everything that’s needed:
- anonymous payment method via Lightning (we don’t know the sender of the payment)
- static VPN IP: no more disconnects due to changing VPN IPs and no hassle setting up Dynamic DNS
- static forwarded ports: assign VPN’s port to your node config and you are good to go
- secure VPN tunnels: we provide quantum-safe VPN tunnels using pre-shared keys
- split-tunneling: we exclude everything else besides lightning P2P traffic from the VPN network. Contrary to “Tor over VPN”, this enables redundancy of connectivity over Tor for your node meaning: If Tor goes down, VPN still plays nice and vice versa (which should never happen).
At present, you can successfully connect with TunnselSats the following node-setups:
- RaspiBlitz (LND / CLN) v1.7.2/v1.8.0
- Umbrel-OS (LND)
- Umbrel-OS (CLN not yet recommended or be tech-savvy)
- myNode (LND) v0.2.x
- (Raspi)Bolt (LND / CLN)
For other setups, please get back to us on Telegram to discuss if it’s viable to go with TunnelSats.
Get the app
There you have it, another tool you can use to improve your Lightning experience and take more control of your bitcoin experience. If you’re new to the Lightning Network and you’re only getting started with your node and all the things you can and should do, it can be overwhelming but take your time to learn more about each app and why you would want it added to your Lightning stack.
For example, adding TunnelSats to your arsenal of tools is highly recommended for those looking to add additional layers of privacy to their node by running it in conjunction with a VPN. Running TunnelSats is not a must; there is no right or wrong way to run your node, you are in control, and you judge the level of privacy and security you want as well as the amount of capital you deploy in this emerging network.
If you would like to learn more about TunnelSats and dive down the rabbit hole, then we recommend checking out the following resources.
Are you a bitcoin and lightning fan?
Have you been using Lightning to make micro-payments? Stream sats or engage with apps? Which app is your favourite? Have you tried all the forms of Lightning payments? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments down below.