[tor-relays] A few questions about my setting up my first Tor relay.

Nima Fatemi nima at riseup.net
Fri Apr 18 07:20:49 UTC 2014

Hi Robert,

Replying in-line...

Robert Smith:
> Judging by the level of your 
> computer skills implied by the emails, those involved in 
> Tor have better things to do than help a guy like me.  I think it is 
> important to the entire world that the internet links us together, and 
> Tor may be the most crucial part of that.

First of all, thanks for your interest in running a relay.

Of course you are always welcome to ask your questions on here, on #tor
irc channel or via sending an email to help at rt.torproject.org in case
it's a private question that you don't want the whole world know about.

> I have 3 machines as possible candidates for a Tor relay: 
> A)  A decent PC (around 6 years old) with Vista installed.  It's been 
> unused for 2 years.  I am willing to do a clean re-install of Vista or 
> even Linux (with help) to run it as a Tor relay, night and day.
> B)  A MacBook Pro (4gb ram, Intel, Snow Leopard).  Again, I am willing to 
> wipe it, and do a clean install of the OS and use it for a Tor relay, 
> night and day.
> C)  My personal laptop an Asus G74S (12gb ram, i7 quad core 2.2ghz, Win7 Home Premium 64bit), which I "sleep" most nights.
> Modem:  DSL from "Telus" (in Victoria, BC, Canada) with 4 ports (I use 1 cable port to my personal computer, 1 wireless port for my iPad or Android cell phone).

Well, it's more about how many "public IP"s you have than the number of PCs.

First you need to make sure your ISP is okay with receiving incoming

Then, I'd suggest installing a fresh Debian on your PC.
You can google around to figure out how to install debian. It's fairly
easy. Here's a short, simple guide with screen-shots:

Then all you need to do is following these steps to install latest
version of Tor on your system:


Then open terminal and type:

sudo nano /etc/tor/torrc

and add the following lines to your torrc file, note you can change
ORPort number to whatever port you want (just make sure that port is
open in your firewall/router), pick a cool nickname for your relay and
add your contact info:

RunAsDaemon 1
ORPort 9001
Nickname name-of-your-relay-goes-here
ContactInfo your-contact-info-goes-here
ExitPolicy reject *:*

Press crtl+o then crtl+x to save the file and exit the editor.

Then you need to restart Tor using this command:

sudo service tor restart

Now your relay should be up and running.

> Questions:
> 1)  If I run a Tor relay with that modem, are there any security risks to the other devices?  I am no technical guru.

Not if you become a non-exit relay. The "ExitPolicy reject *:*" line is
for that purpose.

> 2)  If I run a Tor relay on either (or both the Vista PC and MacBook) of 
> the computers mentioned above, will it be mostly a "set it and forget 
> it" maintenance?  I cannot devote much time (and definitely don't have 
> much expertise).

you need to update your debian once in a while. the update process is
fairly easy. you can even automate it if you wish.

you can either use the interface or open terminal and type:

sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y

do this at least once a week please.

> 3)  Will I compromise the anonimity of Tor users due to my lack of technical skills while running a Tor relay?  I don't want to do more damage than good.

Nope. only encrypted traffic goes in and out your (non-exit) relay.

> 4)  Can I throttle down the bandwidth on my Tor relay(s) when I need it for my own personal machine?  I don't want to disrupt the Tor net.

yes, you can. read your torrc file located at /etc/tor/torrc to figure
out how. but please have it in mind that the minimum bandwidth for a
relay is 100KB/s (800kb/s). If you don't have that much bandwidth, you
may consider running a bridge instead of a relay. bridges consume much
less bandwidth and help censored users access Tor network.


> 5)  Can you suggest the best way to use my machine(s) to make a reliable, 
> maintenance free and secure Tor relay, requiring the least amount of 
> time?  I am guessing it's the MacBook cabled to the DSL, running only 
> Tor relay software, and running only a normal relay.
> 6)  At this point is it worth my while, to attempt a Tor bridge or exit 
> relay or am I even capable of doing it properly?  I have little 
> experience or expertise in networking and not much time.
> Thanks for spending your valuable time reading my questions.  I hope to make it pay off, in a long term Tor relay.

I hope I've covered all your questions.

0XC009DB191C92A77B | @nimaaa | mrphs

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right
to say it" --Evelyn Beatrice Hall

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