[tbb-dev] [Proposal] Tor Browser Quickstart - Call for Comments

Matthew Finkel sysrqb at torproject.org
Thu Oct 29 18:42:17 UTC 2020

On Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 09:58:33AM -0300, Antonela Debiasi wrote:
> 4.3 Quickstart
>   Previous experiences of clients bootstrapping Tor without asking to
> Connect have been successful. Onionshare, the popular Tor sharing files
> app, doesn't request user action to bootstrap Tor. Instead, a minimal UI
> progress bar is shown during the 1 or 2 seconds bootstrapping happens.
> OnionBrowser, the Tor Browser for iOS also bootstrap automatically.
> Brave's Tor startup is transparent to the user and the bootstrapping
> visual progress feedback happens at the URL bar.
>   Quickstart is the feature that enables an automatic Tor connection in
> Tor Browser.
>   As a first step in introducing this feature, we may want to make this
> Opt-In by allowing users to give consent and save this setting in our
> persistent configuration.
>   * Phase One - Userflow
>   The user opens the app; the connecting screen appears. Like the
> current flow, user needs to click in the Connect button to connect to
> Tor. On first time users, we ask consent for automatic connections. [9,
> IMG 0.0]
>   Opted-in recurrent users will go directly to `about:tor`. We will
> disable the URL bar and we will rely on a loading bar UI to render
> immediate visual feedback.
>   A work in progress user interface for desktop [9] and mobile [10] is
> attached to the main ticket [12].

One usability issue that remains is which mechanism we provide to users
such that they can *disable* quickstart at some time in the future
without needing to open (and bootstrap) Tor Browser [0]. With this
feature, the user "does something" and is presented with the Connect
screen where they can configure tor before bootstrapping begins. Ideally
the mechanism should be cross-platform.

One suggestion is adding a hotkey shortcut and Tor Browser looks for
those keys being pressed at startup. This unfortunately creates a race
condition between starting Tor Browser and the user pressing those keys
on the keyboard, but this is a common solution for other similar

Another possible solution may be adding an option on the context menu of
the launcher (icon), and add a new command line flag.

Discoverability is a concern for all of these options, as well.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let us know!

[0] https://gitlab.torproject.org/tpo/applications/tor-browser/-/issues/34345

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