Clients Overview

A large proportion of the Nym mixnet’s functionality is implemented client-side.

Clients perform the following actions on behalf of users:

  • determine network topology - what mixnodes exist, what their keys are, etc.
  • register with a gateway
  • authenticate with a gateway
  • receive and decrypt messages from the gateway
  • create layer-encrypted Sphinx packets
  • send Sphinx packets with real messages
  • send Sphinx packet cover traffic when no real messages are being sent
  • retransmit un-acknowledged packet sends - if a client sends 100 packets to a gateway, but only receives an acknowledgement (‘ack’) for 95 of them, it will resend those 5 packets to the gateway again, to make sure that all packets are received.

As a developer, you’ll want to use a Nym client to send your application network traffic through the mixnet; whether that is an RPC call, a TCP connection request, or treating it like a UDP pipe, you need to send whatever bytes your app needs to send through it. However, unlike (e.g.) a TCP Socket, Nym client communication is message-based, so you cannot (yet) simply plug-and-play using the mixnet as a seamless drop-in replacement. We are currently working on stream-like abstractions for ease of integration with the Rust SDK.

Types of Nym clients

At present, there are three Nym clients:

  • the websocket (native) client
  • the SOCKS5 client
  • the wasm (webassembly) client

You need to choose which one you want incorporate into your app. Which one you use will depend largely on your preferred programming style and the purpose of your app.

The websocket client

Your first option is the native websocket client (nym-client). This is a compiled program that can run on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows machines. It can be run as a persistent process on a desktop or server machine. You can connect to it with any language that supports websockets.

Rust developers can import websocket client functionality into their code via the Rust SDK.

The webassembly client

If you’re working in JavaScript or Typescript in the browser, or building an edge computing app, you’ll likely want to choose the webassembly client.

It’s packaged and available on the npm registry, so you can npm install it into your JavaScript or TypeScript application.

The webassembly client is most easily used via the Typescript SDK. Typescript developers who wish to send API requests through the mixnet can can also check the mixfetch package.

The SOCKS5 client

The nym-socks5-client is useful for allowing existing applications to use the Nym mixnet without any code changes. All that’s necessary is that they can use one of the SOCKS5, SOCKS4a, or SOCKS4 proxy protocols (which many applications can - crypto wallets, browsers, chat applications etc).

When used as a standalone client, it’s less flexible as a way of writing custom applications than the other clients, but able to be used to proxy application traffic through the mixnet without having to make any code changes.

Rust developers can import socks client functionality into their code via the Rust SDK.

Commonalities between clients

All Nym client packages present basically the same capabilities to the privacy application developer. They need to run as a persistent process in order to stay connected and ready to receive any incoming messages from their gateway nodes. They register and authenticate to gateways, and encrypt Sphinx packets.