Private Root Servers
#Creating Your Own Roots (a.k.a. Moons)
All ZeroTier nodes on a planet effectively inhabit a single data center. This makes it easy to directly connect devices anywhere, but it has the disadvantage of not working without an Internet connection. Network connections are far from perfectly reliable, and sometimes for security reasons a user may wish to “air gap” a set of nodes from the rest of the Internet entirely.
In 1.2.0 we introduced the ability to add your own user-defined roots. Since the data center we inhabit is the planet, a user-defined set of roots is called a moon. When a node “orbits” a moon, it adds the moon’s roots to its root server set. Nodes orbiting moons will still use planetary roots, but they’ll use the moon’s roots if they look faster or if nothing else is available.
The first step in creating a moon is to deploy a set of root servers. In most cases we recommend two. These are regular ZeroTier nodes, but ones that are always on and have static (physical) IP addresses. These static IPs could be global Internet IPs or physical intranet IPs that are only reachable internally. In the latter case your moon’s roots won’t work outside your office, but that doesn’t matter. Roaming nodes will just use planetary roots instead.
We recommend that root servers do not act as network controllers, join networks, or perform any other overlapping functions. They need good reliable network connections but otherwise require very little RAM, storage, or CPU. A root could be a small VM, VPS, or cloud instance, or a small device like a Raspberry Pi. If you provision your roots as VMs, take care that they do not all reside on the same physical hardware. This would defeat the purpose of having two.
The next step is to create a world definition using
You will need the
identity.public files from each of your root
servers. Pick one root (doesn’t matter which) and run
zerotier-idtool initmoon <identity.public of one root> >>moon.json.
zerotier-idtoolcommand will output a JSON version of your world
definition to stdout, so we redirect it to
Examine this file. It will contain something like:
The world ID is technically arbitrary and could be any random 64-bit value. By convention we use the address of one of the roots.
The world definition JSON file contains secrets, so it’s important
to keep it in a safe place. The
signingKey_SECRET is what will allow
you to update your world definition automatically in the future.
Now add your other root(s) and define their stable endpoints. You’ll end up with something that looks like:
The static IP addresses you use must be reachable from all the places you want these roots to serve. If you’re deploying these for use at a physical location, use internal IPs. If you want them to be usable off-site, use public IPs from your DMZ or host them at a cloud provider with a data center presence close to you. Low-cost cloud hosts that provide simple static direct IP addressing and dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 support like Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode make ideal places to host roots. The lowest priced instances at these providers are more than sufficient in most cases.
The third step is to generate the actual signed world with
zerotier-idtool genmoon moon.json. In this case this will generate a
000000deadbeef00.moon. This does not contain secret keys
but is signed by the secret from the JSON file.
Now go to your roots, create (if it does not exist) a subdirectory of
their working directories (usually
/var/lib/zerotier-one on Linux)
moons.d, and copy the signed moon file there. Now restart the
roots and they should be ready.
You can add these roots to regular nodes in one of two ways: by placing
the same world definition file in their
moons.d directories or by
zerotier-cli orbit command:
zerotier-cli orbit deadbeef00 deadbeef00. The first argument is the
world ID (which we can shorten by removing the two leading zeroes) and
the second is the address of any of its roots. This will contact the
root and obtain the full world definition from it if it’s online and
Once you’ve “orbited” your moon, try
zerotier-cli listpeers. You
should see the roots you’ve created listed as
MOON instead of
They will now be used as alternative root servers.