Disclaimer: These are planning documents. The functionalities described here may be unimplemented, partially implemented, or implemented differently than the original design.

Circuit Purge


This document presents the design to enable purging a circuit from state, including any Splinter service data related to the circuit. Being able to delete state related to a circuit enables Splinter users to more easily maintain and clean up any unused circuit data. The ability to purge a circuit is validated against the circuit’s circuit_status. A circuit may be Active, Disbanded, or Abandoned. Circuits that have become Disbanded or Abandoned may be purged while Active circuits cannot. Purging a circuit includes removing the circuit state as well as Splinter’s service data. Once the circuit has been purged, it is no longer available from Splinter. This action is only available for circuits that are no longer active to protect circuits that are still active, and presumably being used, from having any data unnecessarily removed. As functionality to deactivate a circuit is implemented, the ability to purge the data leftover from these inactive circuits is necessary to allow users the freedom to handle this data as they choose.

Guide-level explanation

Purging a circuit

Once a circuit has been disbanded or abandoned, it is only available to each node locally. Either of these operations essentially deactivates a circuit, making it available to be purged. In order to remove this state, i.e. remove the circuit from the admin store as well as remove any storage files related to the Splinter service, a circuit may be purged. A circuit is purged from each node individually, upon a node’s administrator’s request. This means the state for each node previously associated with the disbanded circuit will not change until an administrator of that specific node requests to purge the circuit. A purge request is verified by the admin service using the following criteria:

  • The requester has the correct permissions for the node the circuit is being purged from
  • The circuit is present in the admin store and has a circuit_status that is not Active
  • The specified circuit in the request has a circuit_version of at least 2

Once the purge request has been validated by the admin service, the circuit and service state are removed from storage. This includes removing the circuit’s entry from the admin store. Splinter service data, specifically Scabbard’s LMDB files, are also removed by the purge request. The circuit will be removed from state for the requesting node. All other members of the circuit would still be able to access and view the circuit or service state. The node that has purged the circuit, however, will be unable to view the circuit or service data via Splinter.

Reference-level explanation


A CircuitPurgeRequest may be submitted to remove the state of an inactive circuit. An inactive circuit is a circuit with a circuit_status besides Active. This may follow either a CircuitDisbandRequest or a CircuitAbandonRequest. The CircuitDisbandRequest is further explained in the Circuit Disband feature document and ultimately creates a circuit with a Disbanded circuit_status. The CircuitAbandonRequest enables a circuit to have a circuit_status of Abandoned. In both of these cases, the circuit networking will have been turned off. Once the circuit has been disbanded or abandoned, it is able to be purged. The Circuit Abandon feature document has more information on this operation.

The CircuitPurgeRequest is defined in the admin protos as follows:

message CircuitPurgeRequest {
    // The unique circuit id of the inactive circuit to be purged
    string circuit_id = 1;

This request is also wrapped in a CircuitManagementPayload before being submitted to the admin service. This payload would appear as follows:

message CircuitManagementPayload {
    header =
        Header {
            action = CIRCUIT_PURGE_REQUEST;
            requester = <Bytes of the requester’s public key>;
            payload_sha512 = <Bytes of the hash of the payload’s action>;
            requester_node_id = <Node ID of the requester submitting the payload>;
    signature = <Signature of the header included in the request>;
    circuit_purge_request = <`CircuitPurgeRequest` with the circuit ID of the circuit to be purged>;

Once this payload is submitted to the admin service, the request is validated. The steps for validation are described in the previous section. If the purge request is invalid, the circuit and service state will remain. If the purge request is successfully validated, the circuit will then be removed from the admin store. The admin service then uses the ServiceOrchestrator’s purge_service method, which uses the service’s defined purge method to delete the service data. In Scabbard, the purge method will remove the LMDB files associated with the ScabbardState. Any service data from services managed externally must be also deleted externally. The purge request will remove all data pertaining to the circuit from Splinter’s state.


Purging a circuit is only available to inactive circuits, i.e. circuits that have previously been disbanded or abandoned. This feature does not enable a user to remove the circuit’s networking and delete all state data related to that circuit in a single command.

Prior art

Prior to this feature, circuit deletion has not been implemented. Therefore, this design does not follow prior art.