[tor-talk] Tor Weekly News — November 20th, 2013

Lunar lunar at torproject.org
Wed Nov 20 15:02:18 UTC 2013

Tor Weekly News                                      November 20th, 2013

Welcome to the twenty-first issue of Tor Weekly News, the weekly
newsletter that covers what is happening in the Tor community.

tor is out

On the 16th of November, Roger Dingledine released the fourth release
candidate for the tor 0.2.4.x series [1]. As Roger puts it: “It takes a
variety of fixes from the 0.2.5.x branch to improve stability,
performance, and better handling of edge cases.” Readers curious for
more details can look at the announcement for the complete list of

The source is available [2] as well as updated Debian packages [3]. All
relay operators should upgrade. Updated Tor Browser Bundles are in the
making and should be available shortly.

   [1] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-November/031110.html
   [2] https://www.torproject.org/dist/
   [3] https://www.torproject.org/docs/debian.html#development

USB Sticks for Tails

It is often recommended to run Tails from a read-only medium in order to
prevent any malware to permanently mess with the system. “CD is best,
but many devices these days don’t have an optical drive, and handling
CDs is not as convenient as a USB stick” wrote Moritz Bartl on
tor-talk [4].

It looks like one of the very few specific brand of USB sticks available
in Germany that had a proper hardware protection switch can no longer be
used to boot Tails. Moritz ended up contacting various Chinese
suppliers. “Even there, the selection of sticks with write protection is
very limited” but eventually one model was found acceptable. Moritz
intend to re-sell a bulk of them at the upcoming 30C3 in Hamburg [5].

Feel free to join the discussion or contact Moritz privately for more

   [4] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-November/031092.html
   [5] https://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/

New version of check.torproject.org

On the 15th of November, regular users of the Tor Browser Bundle have
probably noticed a change in their preferred welcome page. Andrew Lewman
had just switched check.torproject.org to a new version [6] written by
Arlo Breault in Go [7]. The new codebase [8] should allow the service to
better handle the increasingly high number of connections. Several
fixes [9] were also made during the reimplementation regarding wording,
translations and other meaningful details.

Please report any issues you encounter to the “Tor Check” component of
the Tor bug tracker.

   [6] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-November/031126.html
   [7] https://bugs.torproject.org/9529
   [8] https://gitweb.torproject.org/check.git
   [9] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/query?status=closed&changetime=2013-11-15..&component=Tor+Check

Current state of the proposals

In 2007, Tor developers settled on a formal process for changes in Tor
specifications or other major changes [10]. At this heart of this
process in the “proposal” documents that are discussed on the tor-dev
mailing list [11] and archived in the “torspec” Git repository [12].

Last week, Nick Mathewson took a closer look at what have changed since
the last round up [13] he did in June last year. Since then [14], 16
proposals has been implemented in tor 0.2.3, 0.2.4 and 0.2.5 and two
have been superseded or deemed unhelpful.

Nick subsequently posted [15] a review of all “open”, “needs-revision”,
and “needs-research” proposals. They are many different tasks to be
picked by someone who wishes to help Tor in these 42 proposals, be it by
doing research, code, leading discussions or more in-depth analysis.

  [10] https://gitweb.torproject.org/torspec.git/blob/HEAD:/proposals/001-process.txt
  [11] https://lists.torproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/tor-dev
  [12] https://gitweb.torproject.org/torspec.git/tree/HEAD:/proposals
  [13] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2012-June/003641.html
  [14] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-November/005797.html
  [15] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-November/005798.html

Miscellaneous news

Radu Rădeanu came up with a workaround [16] for Tor users on Ubuntu
13.10 which temporarily fixes keyboard bug in 64-bit Tor Browser Bundles
when used in combination with IBus.

  [16] https://bugs.torproject.org/9353#comment:38

Roger Dingledine calls for help [17] in the collection of the new Tor
related articles in the press [18]. “According to the website [19] the
last time there was a meaningful article about Tor was July 1st. This is
very far from the case.” If you want to help, just edit the wiki
page [20].

  [17] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-November/031134.html
  [18] https://bugs.torproject.org/10182
  [19] https://www.torproject.org/press/press
  [20] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/TorArticles

Firefox 24 is soon going to replace version 17 as “stable” supported
release by Mozilla. intrigeri has completed his work in updating Tails’
browser to the point where it “is good enough for Tails 0.22” [21].
Builds from the “feature/ff24” are available [22] for wider testing.

  [21] https://mailman.boum.org/pipermail/tails-dev/2013-November/004165.html
  [22] http://nightly.tails.boum.org/build_Tails_ISO_feature-ff24/

Andreas Jonsson released [23] initial sandboxed version of the TBB 3.0
series which is ready for testing [24]. This security feature should
prevent an exploit from stealing user data : the Tor Browser will not be
allowed to execute any programs, nor will it be allowed to read or
modify data on disk except in the users “downloads”-folder and its own
profile. The sandbox is currently only supported on OS X 10.9 “but
making it work all the way down to 10.6 is not unlikely”.

  [23] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-November/031111.html
  [24] https://github.com/trams242/tor-browser-bundle

Check Mike Perry’s october report to see what he has been up to in
October [25].

  [25] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2013-November/000384.html

Tor Help Desk Roundup

Users have asked the help desk for support connecting to IRC through
Tor. There are some guides on sending IRC traffic through Tor on the
wiki [26,27]. Tails also comes with Pidgin preconfigured for IRC [28].
However, it will not matter if the IRC client is correctly configured if
the if the intended IRC network blocks all Tor users. For example, users
trying to connect to synIRC through Tor will receive a message telling
them their computer is part of a botnet.

  [26] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/InstantMessaging
  [27] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/IrcSilc
  [28] https://tails.boum.org/doc/anonymous_internet/pidgin/

Users will occasionally ask for support using Tor on ChromeOS. ChromeOS
is based on Linux, so it is theoretically possible to run the Linux Tor
Browser Bundle on ChromeOS. In practice, the Chromebook prevents users
from executing new software on their computers without putting their
Chromebook into developer mode, and making other modifications to their
device [29]. Anyone who has successfully run the Tor Browser Bundle on
ChromeOS is invited to describe their experiences on the Tor Project
wiki. As of this writing, there is no documented way of running Tor
Browser Bundle on ChromeOS.

  [29] http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromiumos-design-docs/security-overview

Upcoming events

Nov 20    | Tor’s New Offices — Open House
          | Cambridge, Massachusetts
          | https://blog.torproject.org/events/tors-new-cambridge-offices-open-house
Dec 27-30 | Tor @ 30th Chaos Communication Congress
          | Hamburg, Germany
          | https://events.ccc.de/congress/2013/

This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by Lunar, dope457,
Matt Pagan, and Andreas Jonsson.

Want to continue reading TWN? Please help us create this newsletter.
We still need more volunteers to watch the Tor community and report
important news. Please see the project page [30], write down your
name and subscribe to the team mailing list [31] if you want to
get involved!

  [30] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/TorWeeklyNews
  [31] https://lists.torproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/news-team
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