Lightning Shell: instant disposable root shells

I recently released Lightning Shell, a service to book access to a docker container with root access using Bitcoin's Lightning Network. It's meant for people who want to try out possibly untrusted software without polluting their system. In a future iteration I could also imagine self hosting Apps that book containers over an API, but that's still far from becoming reality.

One important goal was is usability without JavaScript. For that reason the payment processing uses iframes and http-equiv refresh to check for paid invoices and the containers can be accessed not only using a web tty but also via SSH.

Current status

The service is super unstable and I might take it down temporarily to push updates. It's priced accordingly (42 sat/h). If too many users want to use the service at the same time it will just prevent new instances from being created at some point and there is no flexibility when it comes to CPU power, memory and booking time yet.


Below you can see the full workflow of creating a new instance:

  1. Request invoice
  2. Pay the invoice using a lightning wallet
  3. Go to container
  4. Have fun!

Future plans

  • Clean up the code and open source it
  • Allow for differently sized instances and buying more time
  • Allow public key authentication for SSH
  • Design an API that allows for market based scaling of the service: if there is more demand a service provider can increase the price, which at some point makes other service providers more attractive. If there are enough market participants and a uniform API this could be used to automatically load balance between them.
  • Find someone who can take care of the aesthetics, I'm not good at web design
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