[tor-talk] Pogoplug as a new twist on a good idea

accountability at bitmessage.ch accountability at bitmessage.ch
Wed Nov 27 19:44:04 UTC 2013

Several have posted about setting up Pogoplug or Raspberry Pi as a
dedicated Tor relay, but I wanted to suggest a related potential
opportunity for contributing to Tor from your university, office, etc. for
less than $50 because it may be more inconspicuous and offer more
resources (1.6Ghz dual-core + 1-2GB RAM are common) for running Tor:

1. Pick up an Android "stick" computer (basically a tablet without a
screen), many of which run on USB power and typically offer:
-built-in wi-fi and compatibility with USB gigabit ethernet adapters
-ability to run CyanogenMod or Replicant in some cases
-microSD card slots that can be used for expanded storage
At home, these devices can also double as Roku or Apple TV-like devices.
2. Obtain permission to run a Tor Relay from your employer, university, or
other institution with a high-speed network if not using your own and set
up port forwarding as necessary. These devices can be a hell of a let less
conspicuous if left in a lab or office compared to, say, a laptop.
3. Root the device, configure pf/iptables, configure ssh and other remote
access utilities as necessary
4. Install GuardianProject's Orbot; configure Orbot to start automatically
on boot, to run as a Tor relay, and to act as a transparent proxy if using
for Pogoplug-like functionality. Current Orbot binaries only support
running non-exit relays. Wi-fi/ethernet capabilities can be extended with
tiny USB devices that routinely sell for less than $5.
5. After network configuration, inconspicuously plug your fully-configured
“headless” USB-stick-sized computer into the appropriate USB outlet to
help others fight censorship and mass surveillance, even when you’re not

Being able to power a dedicated, cheap Tor relay 24x7 from the back of (or
perhaps even from inside the case of) a desktop computer is pretty cool,
but there are also a few issues:
1. Lack of pre-packaging and standardization outside of Orbot, though an
organized community could change; configuration isn't always easy or
straightforward for novice users
2. Regularly updated Orbot packages have become an issue, including some
ciphers for handshakes and difficulties configuring Orbot as an exit relay
3. Not all of the hardware and software involved is completely open and free.

I just wanted to point out that for those of us who want Pogoplug-like
functionality or perhaps even want to improve on some the weaknesses they
perceive with it, we may be closer than we realize with off-the-shelf
components and software.

But the business model is indeed interesting.

> On 22 Nov 2013, at 15:56, andrew at torproject.is wrote:
>> On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 07:04:00PM +0600, rm at romanrm.net wrote 2.5K
>> bytes in 0 lines about:
>> : > On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 04:50:44PM +0600, Roman Mamedov wrote:
>> : > > https://pogoplug.com/safeplug
>> Out of all the concerns about how they implemented it and such, my
>> main concern is that it just adds more clients to the network without
>> giving back in the form of relays or bridges. Or at least, none of
>> their documentation mentions the ability to share freedom and privacy
>> with others.
> Not telling the Tor people what to do, but that sounds like a good
> discussion to have with Safeplug?
>> However, this looks like a fine test case for consumer-level torouter
>> market analysis. It would be great to learn 6 months from now how many
>> they sold and a summary of customer feedback.
> I was thinking the exact same thing when I read about it.
> If anyone does hear about a non-technical user purchasing one of these, I
> would appreciate if you could put them in touch with me.
> I’d like to do some user interviews to see their reactions and their
> experiences.
> Thanks,
> Bernard
> --------------------------------------
> Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb
> IO91XM / Contact me: me.ei8fdb.org
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