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matrix-org
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Description

Synapse: Matrix homeserver written in Python 3/Twisted.

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Synapse |support| |development| |documentation| |license| |pypi| |python|

.. contents::

Introduction

Matrix is an ambitious new ecosystem for open federated Instant Messaging and VoIP. The basics you need to know to get up and running are:

  • Everything in Matrix happens in a room. Rooms are distributed and do not exist on any single server. Rooms can be located using convenience aliases like

    #matrix:matrix.org
    or
    #test:localhost:8448
    .
  • Matrix user IDs look like

    @matthew:matrix.org
    (although in the future you will normally refer to yourself and others using a third party identifier (3PID): email address, phone number, etc rather than manipulating Matrix user IDs)

The overall architecture is::

  client  homeserver <=====================> homeserver  client
         https://somewhere.org/_matrix      https://elsewhere.net/_matrix

#matrix:matrix.org
is the official support room for Matrix, and can be accessed by any client from https://matrix.org/docs/projects/try-matrix-now.html or via IRC bridge at irc://irc.libera.chat/matrix.

Synapse is currently in rapid development, but as of version 0.5 we believe it is sufficiently stable to be run as an internet-facing service for real usage!

About Matrix

Matrix specifies a set of pragmatic RESTful HTTP JSON APIs as an open standard, which handle:

  • Creating and managing fully distributed chat rooms with no single points of control or failure
  • Eventually-consistent cryptographically secure synchronisation of room state across a global open network of federated servers and services
  • Sending and receiving extensible messages in a room with (optional) end-to-end encryption
  • Inviting, joining, leaving, kicking, banning room members
  • Managing user accounts (registration, login, logout)
  • Using 3rd Party IDs (3PIDs) such as email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook accounts to authenticate, identify and discover users on Matrix.
  • Placing 1:1 VoIP and Video calls

These APIs are intended to be implemented on a wide range of servers, services and clients, letting developers build messaging and VoIP functionality on top of the entirely open Matrix ecosystem rather than using closed or proprietary solutions. The hope is for Matrix to act as the building blocks for a new generation of fully open and interoperable messaging and VoIP apps for the internet.

Synapse is a Matrix "homeserver" implementation developed by the matrix.org core team, written in Python 3/Twisted.

In Matrix, every user runs one or more Matrix clients, which connect through to a Matrix homeserver. The homeserver stores all their personal chat history and user account information - much as a mail client connects through to an IMAP/SMTP server. Just like email, you can either run your own Matrix homeserver and control and own your own communications and history or use one hosted by someone else (e.g. matrix.org) - there is no single point of control or mandatory service provider in Matrix, unlike WhatsApp, Facebook, Hangouts, etc.

We'd like to invite you to join #matrix:matrix.org (via https://matrix.org/docs/projects/try-matrix-now.html), run a homeserver, take a look at the

Matrix spec 
, and experiment with the
APIs 
and
Client SDKs
_.

Thanks for using Matrix!

Support

For support installing or managing Synapse, please join |room|_ (from a matrix.org account if necessary) and ask questions there. We do not use GitHub issues for support requests, only for bug reports and feature requests.

Synapse's documentation is

nicely rendered on GitHub Pages 
, with its source available in |docs|.

.. |room| replace::

#synapse:matrix.org
.. _room: https://matrix.to/#/#synapse:matrix.org

.. |docs| replace::

docs
.. _docs: docs

Synapse Installation

.. _federation:

  • For details on how to install synapse, see
    Installation Instructions 
    _.
  • For specific details on how to configure Synapse for federation see
    docs/federate.md 
    _

Connecting to Synapse from a client

The easiest way to try out your new Synapse installation is by connecting to it from a web client.

Unless you are running a test instance of Synapse on your local machine, in general, you will need to enable TLS support before you can successfully connect from a client: see

TLS certificates 
_.

An easy way to get started is to login or register via Element at https://app.element.io/#/login or https://app.element.io/#/register respectively. You will need to change the server you are logging into from

matrix.org
and instead specify a Homeserver URL of
https://:8448
(or just
https://
if you are using a reverse proxy). If you prefer to use another client, refer to our
client breakdown 
_.

If all goes well you should at least be able to log in, create a room, and start sending messages.

.. _

client-user-reg
:

Registering a new user from a client

By default, registration of new users via Matrix clients is disabled. To enable it, specify

enable_registration: true
in
homeserver.yaml
. (It is then recommended to also set up CAPTCHA - see
_.)

Once

enable_registration
is set to
true
, it is possible to register a user via a Matrix client.

Your new user name will be formed partly from the

server_name
, and partly from a localpart you specify when you create the account. Your name will take the form of::
@localpart:my.domain.name

(pronounced "at localpart on my dot domain dot name").

As when logging in, you will need to specify a "Custom server". Specify your desired

localpart
in the 'User name' box.

Security note

Matrix serves raw, user-supplied data in some APIs -- specifically the

content
repository endpoints
_.

.. content repository endpoints: https://matrix.org/docs/spec/clientserver/latest.html#get-matrix-media-r0-download-servername-mediaid

Whilst we make a reasonable effort to mitigate against XSS attacks (for instance, by using

CSP
_), a Matrix homeserver should not be hosted on a domain hosting other web applications. This especially applies to sharing the domain with Matrix web clients and other sensitive applications like webmail. See https://developer.github.com/changes/2014-04-25-user-content-security for more information.

.. _CSP: https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/pull/1021

Ideally, the homeserver should not simply be on a different subdomain, but on a completely different

registered domain
_ (also known as top-level site or eTLD+1). This is because
some attacks
_ are still possible as long as the two applications share the same registered domain.

.. _registered domain: https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-httpbis-rfc6265bis-03#section-2.3

.. some attacks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sessionfixation#Attacksusingcross-subdomain_cookie

To illustrate this with an example, if your Element Web or other sensitive web application is hosted on

A.example1.com
, you should ideally host Synapse on
example2.com
. Some amount of protection is offered by hosting on
B.example1.com
instead, so this is also acceptable in some scenarios. However, you should not host your Synapse on
A.example1.com
.

Note that all of the above refers exclusively to the domain used in Synapse's

public_baseurl
setting. In particular, it has no bearing on the domain mentioned in MXIDs hosted on that server.

Following this advice ensures that even if an XSS is found in Synapse, the impact to other applications will be minimal.

Upgrading an existing Synapse

The instructions for upgrading synapse are in

the upgrade notes
_. Please check these instructions as upgrading may require extra steps for some versions of synapse.

.. _the upgrade notes: https://matrix-org.github.io/synapse/develop/upgrade.html

.. _reverse-proxy:

Using a reverse proxy with Synapse

It is recommended to put a reverse proxy such as

nginx 
, `Apache <https://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/mod/modproxyhttp.html>`,
Caddy 
,
HAProxy 
or
relayd 
_ in front of Synapse. One advantage of doing so is that it means that you can expose the default https port (443) to Matrix clients without needing to run Synapse with root privileges.

For information on configuring one, see

_.

Identity Servers

Identity servers have the job of mapping email addresses and other 3rd Party IDs (3PIDs) to Matrix user IDs, as well as verifying the ownership of 3PIDs before creating that mapping.

They are not where accounts or credentials are stored - these live on home servers. Identity Servers are just for mapping 3rd party IDs to matrix IDs.

This process is very security-sensitive, as there is obvious risk of spam if it is too easy to sign up for Matrix accounts or harvest 3PID data. In the longer term, we hope to create a decentralised system to manage it (

matrix-doc #712
), but in the meantime, the role of managing trusted identity in the Matrix ecosystem is farmed out to a cluster of known trusted ecosystem partners, who run 'Matrix Identity Servers' such as
Sydent 
, whose role is purely to authenticate and track 3PID logins and publish end-user public keys.

You can host your own copy of Sydent, but this will prevent you reaching other users in the Matrix ecosystem via their email address, and prevent them finding you. We therefore recommend that you use one of the centralised identity servers at

https://matrix.org
or
https://vector.im
for now.

To reiterate: the Identity server will only be used if you choose to associate an email address with your account, or send an invite to another user via their email address.

Password reset

Users can reset their password through their client. Alternatively, a server admin can reset a users password using the

admin API 
_ or by directly editing the database as shown below.

First calculate the hash of the new password::

$ ~/synapse/env/bin/hash_password
Password:
Confirm password:
$2a$12$xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Then update the

users
table in the database::
UPDATE users SET password_hash='$2a$12$xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'
    WHERE name='@test:test.com';

Synapse Development

The best place to get started is our

guide for contributors 
. This is part of our larger
documentation 
, which includes information for synapse developers as well as synapse administrators.

Developers might be particularly interested in:

  • Synapse's database schema 
    _,
  • notes on Synapse's implementation details 
    _, and
  • how we use git 
    _.

Alongside all that, join our developer community on Matrix:

#synapse-dev:matrix.org 
_, featuring real humans!

Quick start

Before setting up a development environment for synapse, make sure you have the system dependencies (such as the python header files) installed - see

Platform-specific prerequisites 
_.

To check out a synapse for development, clone the git repo into a working directory of your choice::

git clone https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse.git
cd synapse

Synapse has a number of external dependencies, that are easiest to install using pip and a virtualenv::

python3 -m venv ./env
source ./env/bin/activate
pip install -e ".[all,dev]"

This will run a process of downloading and installing all the needed dependencies into a virtual env. If any dependencies fail to install, try installing the failing modules individually::

pip install -e "module-name"

We recommend using the demo which starts 3 federated instances running on ports

8080
-
8082
./demo/start.sh

(to stop, you can use

./demo/stop.sh
)

If you just want to start a single instance of the app and run it directly::

# Create the homeserver.yaml config once
python -m synapse.app.homeserver \
  --server-name my.domain.name \
  --config-path homeserver.yaml \
  --generate-config \
  --report-stats=[yes|no]

Start the app

python -m synapse.app.homeserver --config-path homeserver.yaml

Running the unit tests

After getting up and running, you may wish to run Synapse's unit tests to check that everything is installed correctly::

trial tests

This should end with a 'PASSED' result (note that exact numbers will differ)::

Ran 1337 tests in 716.064s

PASSED (skips=15, successes=1322)

For more tips on running the unit tests, like running a specific test or to see the logging output, see the

CONTRIBUTING doc 
_.

Running the Integration Tests

Synapse is accompanied by

SyTest 
_, a Matrix homeserver integration testing suite, which uses HTTP requests to access the API as a Matrix client would. It is able to run Synapse directly from the source tree, so installation of the server is not required.

Testing with SyTest is recommended for verifying that changes related to the Client-Server API are functioning correctly. See the

SyTest installation
instructions 
_ for details.

Platform dependencies

Synapse uses a number of platform dependencies such as Python and PostgreSQL, and aims to follow supported upstream versions. See the

_ document for more details.

Troubleshooting

Need help? Join our community support room on Matrix:

#synapse:matrix.org 
_

Running out of File Handles

If synapse runs out of file handles, it typically fails badly - live-locking at 100% CPU, and/or failing to accept new TCP connections (blocking the connecting client). Matrix currently can legitimately use a lot of file handles, thanks to busy rooms like #matrix:matrix.org containing hundreds of participating servers. The first time a server talks in a room it will try to connect simultaneously to all participating servers, which could exhaust the available file descriptors between DNS queries & HTTPS sockets, especially if DNS is slow to respond. (We need to improve the routing algorithm used to be better than full mesh, but as of March 2019 this hasn't happened yet).

If you hit this failure mode, we recommend increasing the maximum number of open file handles to be at least 4096 (assuming a default of 1024 or 256). This is typically done by editing

/etc/security/limits.conf

Separately, Synapse may leak file handles if inbound HTTP requests get stuck during processing - e.g. blocked behind a lock or talking to a remote server etc. This is best diagnosed by matching up the 'Received request' and 'Processed request' log lines and looking for any 'Processed request' lines which take more than a few seconds to execute. Please let us know at #synapse:matrix.org if you see this failure mode so we can help debug it, however.

Help!! Synapse is slow and eats all my RAM/CPU!

First, ensure you are running the latest version of Synapse, using Python 3 with a PostgreSQL database.

Synapse's architecture is quite RAM hungry currently - we deliberately cache a lot of recent room data and metadata in RAM in order to speed up common requests. We'll improve this in the future, but for now the easiest way to either reduce the RAM usage (at the risk of slowing things down) is to set the almost-undocumented

SYNAPSE_CACHE_FACTOR
environment variable. The default is 0.5, which can be decreased to reduce RAM usage in memory constrained enviroments, or increased if performance starts to degrade.

However, degraded performance due to a low cache factor, common on machines with slow disks, often leads to explosions in memory use due backlogged requests. In this case, reducing the cache factor will make things worse. Instead, try increasing it drastically. 2.0 is a good starting value.

Using

libjemalloc 
_ can also yield a significant improvement in overall memory use, and especially in terms of giving back RAM to the OS. To use it, the library must simply be put in the LD_PRELOAD environment variable when launching Synapse. On Debian, this can be done by installing the
libjemalloc1
package and adding this line to
/etc/default/matrix-synapse
::
LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libjemalloc.so.1

This can make a significant difference on Python 2.7 - it's unclear how much of an improvement it provides on Python 3.x.

If you're encountering high CPU use by the Synapse process itself, you may be affected by a bug with presence tracking that leads to a massive excess of outgoing federation requests (see

discussion
_). If metrics indicate that your server is also issuing far more outgoing federation requests than can be accounted for by your users' activity, this is a likely cause. The misbehavior can be worked around by setting the following in the Synapse config file:

.. code-block:: yaml

presence: enabled: false

People can't accept room invitations from me

The typical failure mode here is that you send an invitation to someone to join a room or direct chat, but when they go to accept it, they get an error (typically along the lines of "Invalid signature"). They might see something like the following in their logs::

2019-09-11 19:32:04,271 - synapse.federation.transport.server - 288 - WARNING - GET-11752 - authenticate_request failed: 401: Invalid signature for server  with key ed25519:a_EqML: Unable to verify signature for 

This is normally caused by a misconfiguration in your reverse-proxy. See

_ and double-check that your settings are correct.

.. |support| image:: https://img.shields.io/matrix/synapse:matrix.org?label=support&logo=matrix :alt: (get support on #synapse:matrix.org) :target: https://matrix.to/#/#synapse:matrix.org

.. |development| image:: https://img.shields.io/matrix/synapse-dev:matrix.org?label=development&logo=matrix :alt: (discuss development on #synapse-dev:matrix.org) :target: https://matrix.to/#/#synapse-dev:matrix.org

.. |documentation| image:: https://img.shields.io/badge/documentation-%E2%9C%93-success :alt: (Rendered documentation on GitHub Pages) :target: https://matrix-org.github.io/synapse/latest/

.. |license| image:: https://img.shields.io/github/license/matrix-org/synapse :alt: (check license in LICENSE file) :target: LICENSE

.. |pypi| image:: https://img.shields.io/pypi/v/matrix-synapse :alt: (latest version released on PyPi) :target: https://pypi.org/project/matrix-synapse

.. |python| image:: https://img.shields.io/pypi/pyversions/matrix-synapse :alt: (supported python versions) :target: https://pypi.org/project/matrix-synapse

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