[ooni-talk] OONI hardware?

Arturo Filastò arturo at openobservatory.org
Tue Sep 3 14:39:15 UTC 2019

Hi Ilf,

Thanks for bringing this important topic up!

> On Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 at 12:01 AM (canary:event?ts=587772065.00), ilf <ilf at zeromail.org (mailto:ilf at zeromail.org)> wrote:
> Friends,
> I do quite some traveling, including to regions and countries that could
> benefit from (another) OONI probe. However, I have not really found a
> good way to actually put OONI to use. The main reason is: all my devices
> heavily use VPNs and Tor.
> Have you ever thought about some tiny OONI hardware probe? I for one
> would love an small device, for example powered by PoE and getting
> uplink via ethernet, or powered by USB and getting uplink via WLAN.
> Something like a RIPE Atlas Probe: https://atlas.ripe.net/docs/probe-v2/
> Three ideas come to mind:
> 1. Someone probably already hack up something like this on a Raspberry
> Pi or similar. Can someone point me to this?

Some time ago we had a Raspberry Pi image that supported running OONI Probe out of the box, however it turned out to be too much effort to maintain it and keep it up to date, see: https://github.com/thetorproject/lepidopter.

While it’s probably still the easiest way to get a dedicated OONI Probe hardware probe, you should keep in mind that it’s running a very old version of debian (jessie) and we don’t have plans to support it in the future.

In going forward we believe that Android is the most promising platform to support this style of automated testing. You can easily acquire a very cheap android device (if you consider all the accessories to a raspberry pi it adds up being much less) and we don’t have to maintain up to date the base OS (this is handled by Android).
Moreover you have a UI that allows you to connect the device to a wifi network and provide feedback to the user (in lepidopter this was a challenge and we did not support connecting to wifi network, but only cable).

Within the next 2 releases of OONI Probe we will be re-adding support for automated testing in Android which will open up the possibility to setting up a device and leaving it somewhere.

We also have plans for adding features that are more tailored to the hardware style deployment in OONI Probe Android so stay tuned for updates on that front.

> 2. Time and money are limited, and having something like this as a
> "product" needs both. But something like this could also vastly increase
> the amount of probes. The Android App already drastically lowered the
> bar to running a probe. But some dongle one would just have to plug in
> somewhere would lower that even more. And if cheap enough, they could
> just be left in interesting places.

Another maybe related idea that we had was of making a version of OONI Probe Android specifically designed for Android TV devices. You can buy these devices for super cheap (like less than 50 EUR) and they are pretty much plug and play.

> 3. RIPE Atlas Probes serve a different purpose. But has anyone ever
> talked to RIPE NCC about the possibility of maybe running OONI on them?

We are in touch with them and I think we share some set of common goals, though their focus is less on internet censorship and more on general networking, which is why their scope is a bit different to that of OONI.

Hope this helps answer some of your questions.


~ Arturo
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