Improving website resilience with LibResilient and IPFS

We’re always looking for techniques to make services more resilient to all sorts of issues. That’s why we took special interest in LibResilient and mapped out it’s capabilities. It’s a JavaScript library for decentralized content delivery in web-browsers and markets itself as easy to deploy to any website. We’ve looked at LibResilient primarily in the context of static websites. While it should work with dynamic websites too, that was out of focus for us.

Under the hood LibResilient uses Web Workers. Technically it’s a piece of JavaScript that websites can install into the browsers of their visitors. I like to compare it to cookies, except that it’s not just data but actually a program for manipulating your network request. The main purpose of Web Workers is to enable web apps to optimize their network connections. Web Workers are pretty low-level API.

LibResilient delivers implementations for common use-cases on top of Web Workers in the form of plug-ins. We’ve looked at the 3 most basic of those plug-ins.

  • fetch plugin - routes network requests directly to the web-server as if LibResilient wasn’t present.
  • cache plugin - stores HTML, JavaScript, images and other files inside the browsers local storage
  • alt-fetch plugin - allows to configure a list of website mirrors and tries to fetch files from there

These enable us to keep a website online and even update it if the main web-server running that site has an outage. It’s key that visitors must have managed to load the website at least once before. Only than can LibResilient work it’s magic and install itself and the list of site mirrors into the users browser. This solution doesn’t work for first time visitors, during the period of an outage.

Of course this requires to run website mirrors. Static websites really shine in this regard, because they are very easy to mirror and static web-space is quite inexpensive these days.

We also looked into using IPFS Gateways as mirrors. To accomplish this we had to first add and pin websites to IPFS. Next we had to publish the pinned copy of the site to IPNS. Then we could use the IPNS-key-fingerprint to use every public IPFS gateway as mirror. However, public gateways tend to require quite long to answer requests, which is bad for LibResilient because it uses relatively short timeouts to fail-over between mirrors. So to get some sense of reliability, paid IPFS gateways guaranteed to pin your website are a more stable choice.

Publishing LibResilient to IPFS

This is a for publishing a static LibResilient enabled website to IPFS.


You will need VPS, or some other kind of tiny but always online server to make your data available on IPFS. This guide assumes that your server is running some flavor of GNU/Linux. It also assumes that you are familiar with the concept of static websites and that your site is already hosted on the internet.

Mind that IPFS can be very slow, if you run into timeouts don’t give up. Just wait a few minutes and give it a few more retries, it will work eventually.

Install IPFS

This short snipped will install kubo the official IPFS binary build on your server:

echo "15d42b47b8529edda3e8e2d6fe6c14958d939c4efd07dea02e204743e05216f3 kubo_v0.18.1_linux-amd64.tar.gz" \
    | sha256sum --check
tar -xzf kubo_v0.18.1_linux-amd64.tar.gz
mv kubo/ipfs /usr/local/bin/ipfs
rm -rf kubo kubo_v0.18.1_linux-amd64.tar.gz

Setup kubo daemon to always run in background as systemd service. (Note: this is tested for Debian and might require different steps on other GNU/Linux distributions.)

adduser ipfs --gecos '' --disabled-password
su ipfs -c '/usr/local/bin/ipfs init --profile server'

cat << EOF > /etc/systemd/system/ipfs-daemon.service
Description=IPFS Daemon

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/ipfs daemon


systemctl enable ipfs-daemon.service
systemctl start ipfs-daemon.service

Tip: If you’re behind a firewall or NAT make sure to open ports 4001/tcp and 4001/udp so IPFS can connect to the internet.

Publish site to IPFS

Next we’ll publish the website to IPFS. You’ll need to copy your static website to the IPFS server. For this guide we’ll assume there’s a copy of your website at /home/ipfs/website.

ipfs add -r /home/ipfs/website"

The last line of the output of this command should look something like this:

added QmcoZGQZnaGGdcv3zWf1pdcpMQXuXz74tUy7veWdxCiPck website

Copy the CID and pin it. Pinning means that your IPFS daemon will never automatically delete these files to free up memeory.

ipfs pin add QmcoZGQZnaGGdcv3zWf1pdcpMQXuXz74tUy7veWdxCiPck

Now it’s time to make make it available via IPNS. So we need to generate an IPNS key. This key will serve as address for accessing the website using IPFS. It also serves as key for publishing updates to your website.

NOTE: all commands in this section are to be executed by ipfs user.

ipfs key gen --type=rsa --size=2048 example-site

This is how you can list your keys:

ipfs key list -l

the relevant output should look something like this:

k2k4r8ls72x686fmm2s0px4plejbHkhOm9uuzrxwedsaag1w72ene5rw     example-site

The hash of the key, on the left side is going to be the IPNS name of your website. It’s a fixed name that doesn’t change even when you update your site.

ipfs name publish --key=example-site QmcoZGQZnaGGdcv3zWf1pdcpMQXuXz74tUy7veWdxCiPck 

When your IPFS node is working and could connect to some peers, your site should now be accessible using IPNS. Although publishing may take several minutes. There are so-called public gateways which allow users to access IPFS and IPNS content using http. E.g.:

You can also use ipfs to check if the files got ingested correctly. E.g.:

ipfs ls /ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dlfqyi5ofzusx23myrrfzxlbzjho4nso0nq28lueo1994l0uwzw
ipfs cat /ipns/k51qzi5uqu5dlfqyi5ofzusx23myrrfzxlbzjho4nso0nq28lueo1994l0uwzw/index.html

Now that your site is available on IPNS you can finally add it to your LibResilient config.json. You can actually add as many gateways as you’d like with LibResilient’s alt-fetch plugin. Here’s a simple example where we added two gateways:

  "plugins": [{
    "name": "fetch"
  }, {
    "name": "alt-fetch",
    "endpoints": [
  "loggedComponents": ["service-worker", "fetch", "alt-fetch"]

NOTE: We have to use IPNS, because as you can see we need write the IPFS address to a file which itself is part of the website. With IPNS updating the site also won’t require changing config.json for every update.

When you’ve made your pick of IPFS gateways and added them to your config.json you can publish it to your web-server.

Publish updated site to IPFS

Now you also need to publish the change to IPFS. Again start by copying the site to your IPFS server. We again assume the updated copy of your static website is located at /home/ipfs/website.

Next we can unpin the old version of the website. (Tip: you can list pinned files and directories with: ipfs pin ls pinned directories will be marked as recursive)

ipfs unpin QmcoZGQZnaGGdcv3zWf1pdcpMQXuXz74tUy7veWdxCiPck

Then we can add the updated site to IPFS and publish it to IPNS again.

ipfs add -r /home/ipfs/website"
ipfs name publish --key=example-site QmcoZrn004DGdRvuZWf1pdcpMQXuXghjCUy7ve5Og45dNU 

You can repeat this step whenever you want to publish an updated version of your static website.