[tor-talk] Tor Weekly News — June 4th, 2014

Lunar lunar at torproject.org
Wed Jun 4 12:34:29 UTC 2014

Tor Weekly News                                           June 4th, 2014

Welcome to the twenty-second issue of Tor Weekly News in 2014, the
weekly newsletter that covers what is happening in the Tor community.

Tails moves to Wheezy

The Tails live system [1] is a Debian derivative [2] aiming at
preserving the privacy and anonymity of its users.

The first Tails releases were based on Debian Lenny [3] (2009-2012);
since version 0.7, Tails has been based on Debian Squeeze [4] (2011-).
Meanwhile, Debian has released a new stable version dubbed Wheezy [5],
and the upcoming Tails 1.1 will be the first release to be based on the

The general set of features should not change much from the previous
Tails release, but almost every software component has been updated. On
May 30th, the Tails team released a beta image [6]; given the number of
changes, testing is even more welcome than usual.

Testers can also try out the new UEFI support, which enables Tails to
boot on recent hardware and on Macs.

Several issues [7] with the current beta image have already been
identified, so be sure to have a look at the list before reporting [8].

The details of the release schedule are still being discussed [9] at the
time of writing, but Tails 1.1 is likely to be out by the end of July.
Please help make it a great release!

   [1]: https://tails.boum.org/
   [2]: https://wiki.debian.org/Derivatives
   [3]: https://www.debian.org/releases/lenny/
   [4]: https://www.debian.org/releases/squeeze/
   [5]: https://www.debian.org/releases/wheezy/
   [6]: https://tails.boum.org/news/test_1.1-beta1/
   [7]: https://tails.boum.org/news/test_1.1-beta1/#index3h1
   [8]: https://tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/bug_reporting/
   [9]: https://mailman.boum.org/pipermail/tails-dev/2014-May/005917.html

Stem 1.2 brings interactive interaction with the Tor daemon

On June 1st, Damian Johnson announced [10] the release of Stem [11] 1.2.
Stem is a Python library for interacting with the Tor daemon. It is now
used by several applications [12] like the arm [13] status monitor and
Philipp Winter’s exit scanner [14].

The new version brings an interactive control interpreter, “a new method
for interacting with Tor’s control interface that combines an
interactive python interpreter with raw access similar to telnet”. This
should make Tor hackers happy by saving them from having to manually
poke the control port through telnet or create complete Stem scripts.

For the complete list of changes, head over to the changelog [15].

  [10]: https://blog.torproject.org/blog/stem-release-12
  [11]: https://stem.torproject.org/
  [12]: https://stem.torproject.org/tutorials/double_double_toil_and_trouble.html
  [13]: https://www.atagar.com/arm/
  [14]: http://www.cs.kau.se/philwint/spoiled_onions/
  [15]: https://stem.torproject.org/change_log.html#version-1-2

Monthly status reports for May 2014

The wave of regular monthly reports from Tor project members for the
month of May has begun. Pearl Crescent released their report first [16],
followed by Sherief Alaa [17], Damian Johnson [18], Nick Mathewson [19],
Colin C. [20], Georg Koppen [21], Lunar [22], Arlo Breault [23], and
Matt Pagan [24].

Lunar also reported on behalf of the help desk [25], while Arturo
Filastò did likewise for the OONI team [26], and Mike Perry for the Tor
Browser team [27].

  [16]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-May/000539.html
  [17]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-May/000540.html
  [18]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000542.html
  [19]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000543.html
  [20]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000544.html
  [21]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000545.html
  [22]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000546.html
  [23]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000548.html
  [24]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000550.html
  [25]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000541.html
  [26]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000547.html
  [27]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-June/000549.html

Miscellaneous news

Pups, a chat system implemented by Sherief Alaa for real-time
invitation-based user support, has gone live [28], and can now be used
by Tor’s support assistants when that method promises a quicker
resolution of an issue.

  [28]: https://bugs.torproject.org/11657

In response to a question about the writing of unit tests for tor, Nick
Mathewson shared [29] a brief guide to identifying lines in tor’s
codebase that have not yet been covered by tests.

  [29]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2014-June/006933.html

Nick also put out a call (relayed by Moritz Bartl [30]) for Tor relay
operators running version or later to profile their
relays, in order to identify potential bottlenecks. Basic instructions
for doing so on Debian and Ubuntu can be found in the comments to the
relevant ticket [31].

  [30]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-relays/2014-May/004617.html
  [31]: https://bugs.torproject.org/11332

During a discussion on the role of JavaScript hooks in Tor Browser, Mike
Perry clarified [32] the merits of writing direct C++ Firefox patches
over using such hooks, as well as the possibility of incorporating
Torbutton’s privacy features into either Firefox itself or a dedicated

  [32]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tbb-dev/2014-June/000074.html

Andrew Lewman reported [33] on his trip to Stockholm to address Sida and
the Stockholm Internet Forum.

  [33]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-May/000538.html

Juha Nurmi sent the second weekly report [34] for the ahmia.fi Google
Summer of Code project.

  [34]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2014-May/000537.html

Marc Juarez is working on website fingerprinting countermeasures in the
form of a pluggable transport. Marc wants to “implement a set of
primitives that any link padding-based defense would benefit of” and is
looking for feedback [35] on the envisaged primitives.

  [35]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2014-May/006918.html

Philipp Winter announced [36] that Atlas [37], the web application to
learn about currently running Tor relays, will now display information
about a relay’s IPv6 exit policy, as well as the already-existing IPv4
exit summary.

  [36]: https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-relays/2014-May/004620.html
  [37]: https://atlas.torproject.org

Tor help desk roundup

Sometimes users with no network obstacles will email the help desk to
ask how to configure their Tor Browser. Often these users will not need
to configure anything, and clicking “Connect” is all that is necessary.
Discussion on this problem is taking place on the bug tracker [38].

  [38]: https://bugs.torproject.org/12164

Easy development tasks to get involved with

The bridge distributor BridgeDB [39] populates its database from the
cached descriptor files copied over from the bridge authority. There’s a
small bug [40] in BridgeDB where a line that is included in two
different cached descriptor files gets added twice to the database. The
ticket says this bug is easily reproducible and even contains commands
for reproducing it. If you enjoy digging into unknown Python/Twisted
codebases to find the few spots that need fixing, this bug may be for
you. Be sure to comment on the ticket when you have a fix!

  [39]: https://bridges.torproject.org/
  [40]: https://bugs.torproject.org/11216

Upcoming events

June  4 18:00 UTC | Tor Weather development meeting
                  | #tor-dev, irc.oftc.net
                  | https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2014-June/006937.html
June  4 19:00 UTC | little-t tor development meeting
                  | #tor-dev, irc.oftc.net
                  | https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2014-June/006938.html
June  6 15:00 UTC | Tor Browser online meeting
                  | #tor-dev, irc.oftc.net
                  | https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tbb-dev/2014-April/000049.html
June  6 16:00 UTC | Pluggable transports online meeting
                  | #tor-dev, irc.oftc.net
                  | https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2014-April/006764.html
June  7 19:00 CDT | Colin @ CryptoParty, Winnipeg
                  | SkullSpace, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
                  | http://wiki.skullspace.ca/index.php/CryptoParty
June 11 19:00 UTC | Tails contributors meeting
                  | #tails-dev, irc.oftc.net
                  | https://mailman.boum.org/pipermail/tails-dev/2014-May/005818.html

This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by harmony, Lunar,
Matt Pagan and Karsten Loesing.

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 [41], write down your
name and subscribe to the team mailing list [42] if you want to
get involved!

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