[tor-dev] Making and distributing custom TBB with a new "home-page"

Leif Ryge leif at synthesize.us
Sun Sep 21 15:09:12 UTC 2014

On Sun, Sep 21, 2014 at 04:12:00PM +0200, Fabio Pietrosanti (naif) wrote:
> Hi all,
> for a very interesting deployment of GlobaLeaks in the are of Human
> Rights defense, we will have the need to distribute a customized Tor
> Browser Bundle to the sources.
> The "customization" requirement is simple: Have as a default home-page
> the GlobaLeaks .onion site .
> We must go that way because:
> - the "target country" where the sources are cannot download TBB due to
> torproject.org being censored
> - the sources are absolutely non-technologically savy (average 60yo
> lawyers doing human rights defense)
> The website where there will be the leaking instructions and the
> download of such custom TBB will be "privately distributed" trough word
> of mouth and trusted connections, with no public solicitation.
> So we must do some piece of software that will:
> - Download TBB in specific languages (2-3 specific languages) for each
> platform
> - Unpack TBB (in all formats for Windows, OSX, Linux)
> - Apply the customization (set the home-page, with slightly different
> parameters depending on the language)
> - Check periodically if a new version is available and, in that case,
> re-execute the process described above to release updated version of TBB
> The questions are:
> a) Which is a simple/stable/resilient way to check which is the latest
> version of TBB
> b) Does someone have already done that kind of customization-process?
> c) Can everything be done from Linux, like a cron-job, in a fully
> automatic way?
> d) Which other customization / ideas / concern are there regarding this
> process?
> I'd personally love if the customization would enable me to completely
> disable the "URL Bar" and all of the Browser Button in order to make it
> useful only to use it as a console to send information being a source,
> without the possibility to go browse other sites.
> Waiting for comments before writing some quick specs

If I remember correctly I heard some GlobaLeaks people discussing the idea of
rebranding TBB a long time ago but eventually they concluded that it was
generally undesirable for potential whistleblowers to have GlobaLeaks-specific
bytes sitting around on their storage devices.

Also, it seems like whatever private distribution mechanism you plan to use for
a modified TBB could also be used just as well for a standard TBB, or Tails.

Have you considered just distributing Tails USB sticks along with the .onion
address on a piece of paper?

As for a TBB updater, until TBB's own updater is released, for GNU/Linux users
there is Tor Browser Launcher: https://github.com/micahflee/torbrowser-launcher

Unfortunately I'm not aware of anything similar for Mac or Windows. Tails'
incremental upgrader generally works these days, if you have enough RAM and a
good clock battery.


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