Author: Arvid Norberg,

Mainline DHT extensions

libtorrent implements a few extensions to the Mainline DHT protocol.

get_peers response

libtorrent always responds with nodes to a get_peers request. If it has peers for the specified info-hash, it will return values as well. This is because just because some peer announced to us, doesn't mean that we are among the 8 closest nodes of the info hash. libtorrent also keeps traversing nodes using get_peers until it has found the 8 closest ones, and then announces to those nodes.

forward compatibility

In order to support future DHT messages, any message which is not recognized but has either an info_hash or target argument is interpreted as find node for that target. i.e. it returns nodes. This allows future messages to be properly forwarded by clients that don't understand them instead of being blocked.

client identification

In each DHT packet, an extra key is inserted named "v". This is a string describing the client and version used. This can help alot when debugging and finding errors in client implementations. The string is encoded as four characters, two characters describing the client and two characters interpreted as a binary number describing the client version.

Currently known clients:

uTorrent UT
libtorrent LT
MooPolice MP
GetRight GR

IPv6 support

This extension is superseeded by BEP 32.

The DHT messages that don't support IPv6 are the nodes replies. They encode all the contacts as 6 bytes packed together in sequence in a string. The problem is that IPv6 endpoints cannot be encoded as 6 bytes, but needs 18 bytes. The extension libtorrent applies is to add another key, called nodes2.

nodes2 may be present in replies that contains a nodes key. It is encoded as a list of strings. Each string represents one contact and is encoded as 20 bytes node-id and then a variable length encoded IP address (6 bytes in IPv4 case and 18 bytes in IPv6 case).

As an optimization, libtorrent does not include the extra key in case there are only IPv4 nodes present.