[tor-dev] Self publishing over Tor Hidden Services

intrigeri intrigeri at boum.org
Sun Mar 25 22:18:31 UTC 2012


Arturo Filastò wrote (23 Mar 2012 22:45:39 GMT) :
> I believe this project has some common goals with the work TAILS
> wants to do on the "TAILS server edition" [1].

Sure. There's probably some work that can be shared. It's unclear to
me what part of it yet, but we'll see.

It's striking how different those projects are, but not as much as the
fact we independently thought of proposing them for GSoC the very same
year. I think it confirms "something like this" is needed, and I'm
glad of seeing this happen.

Tails server and APAF share something important: they don't exist yet.
There are a few big differences between Tails server and APAF, though.
Let me mention some of those, and we'll see what we can learn from
this. At least I'm sure comparing Tails server with APAF will help
clarify what Tails server would be :)

Amnesia vs. post-mortem analysis of the equipment -- Tails server is
likely to be based on Tails (no kidding), inheriting much, if not all,
of its threat model and specification, including taking radical
measures to avoid writing anything to local storage media unless the
user explicitly asks for it. I did not see any such thing in the APAF
description. Is this part of the APAF threat model? I must say I am
impressed with how far something like the TBB goes to satisfy this
requirement at the application level. At some level, things get out of
control of most applications anyway (hints: swap, usage of various OS
functionality that may, or may not, write stuff to disk), but even if
we disregard that level, I'm not sure how a webapp framework for
a generic language such as Python could try to satisfy this
requirement as well as the TBB.

Target hardware and usage model -- As far as I understand it, APAF is
aimed at running on the Desktop (that is on a desktop or laptop
computer that's running a full-blown desktop environment such as
GNOME). We expect most of the services provided by Tails server to run
24/7 in cupboards, garages and basements. I don't expect users to keep
their desktop or laptop running and online 24/7. This is one of the
reasons why Tails server should be fully functional on boxes people do
not want, or cannot, use as Desktop computers anymore, e.g. because of
hardware being half-broken or not powerful enough to run a modern
Desktop environment plus server software.

Applications -- Tails server is meant to run any existing application
we add and maintain support for, building on existing blocks such as
Gobby and a few others. As far as I understand it, APAF is a framework
to write, and maintain, a set of brand new applications that would be
bound to this specific environment -- in other words, people not
interested in Tor are unlikely to ever contribute to such an
application. I find the APAF approach to be very ambitious.

Future -- Tails server would be a practical contribution to the
FreedomBox project, that should explore some of the FreedomBox
  1. In a way that's immediately useful to lots of people.
  2. In a way that _practically_ attacks some of the FreedomBox
     technical challenges (e.g. configuration management on the long
     term, upgrade management, unlocking encrypted storage at boot
     time on a potentially headless machine).
  3. With a specific threat model in mind, that's not shared by all
     people who {are, should be, are supposed to be, could, might} be
     working on the FreedomBox project. Showing them deployed, working
     code and systems will be much better an advocacy for anonymity,
     storage encryption, and location hiding, than trying to explain
     them why they should write support for all of this themselves.
Ideally, the purpose of Tails server should be taken over by the
FreedomBox some day, and the process that leads to Tails server should
help the FreedomBox to actually exist some day. Sometimes, it's great
to start a project while knowing right from the beginning it could
very well become obsoleted by something even greater that will be
maintained by, or with, entirely different people.

Tails server should be able to run APAF applications, right?

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