February 2011 Progress Report
We contracted Runa Sandvik to work on moving the torouter project forward, https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/TheOnionRouter/Torouter, translations, and integration of tor web server log analysis and publication.
On February 23rd, we released an updated Tor -stable. Tor 0.2.1.30 fixes a
variety of less critical bugs. The main other change is a slight tweak to Tor's TLS handshake that makes relays and bridges that run this new version reachable from Iran again. We don't expect this tweak will win the arms race long-term, but it
buys us time until we roll out a better solution. Full announcement at
- Arm development has stayed relatively on track, with the revised
connection panel very nearly achieving parity with its predecessor
(and in most respects surpassing it). Most of what remains are
refinements and tasty new features. Arm has also been added to Debian
(Sid) and Ubuntu (Natty) with backports pending. Many thanks to Peter
for his help.
- Tom spent some time assisting Jacob with a satellite test. The test wound
up breaking due to flaky hardware, however they were able to collect some usable
- Created the trac ticket around hidden service improvements,
https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/2552. We need to focus on
improving hidden services and fixing some of the performance and reliability
- Mike fixed a bunch of torbutton bugs. His summary iteration results are
- Mike helped fix the bandwidth authority on salsa that exploded due to a
Architecture and Design Docs for better censorship resistance
- Karsten and Sebastian tried to improve the database schema in metrics-db
to speed up relay search performance. Unfortunately, the required updates
from the old schema took forever, so we don't just need a better schema, but
also a better migration strategy to go from one schema to the next.
- Karsten started moving code from metrics-db to metrics-web to make the
metrics website a self-contained unit that's independent of
aggregating descriptors. The idea is that people can take the metrics-web
code and improve it or replace it with a better metrics website written in
the web language of their choice.
- Karsten started working on better visualizations of Tor data using the
Thematic Mapping API together with Rachel Binx.
Hide Tor's network signature.
- Collaborated with George K on obfsproxy, a generic protocol
obfuscator. It seems to work ok but needs more testing.
- Nick worked on improving the pluggable-transport design.
- Jacob did another revision on what is now prop 179,
- Jacob looked at the EFF SSL data and have some improvements for how we can
get better data for future research questions.
Outreach and Advocacy
- Jacob continued working on Egypt related issues.
- Jacob did a training for people in Bahrain.
- Tor, the ACLU and the OPC launched our privacy challenge:
- Jacob did a bit of looking at the Libyan Internet.
- Jacob gave the keynote speech at the Ctrl-X-Ethics Workshop in Toronto on
ethics of security research.
- We ran a successful hackfest with the help of MITs Center for Future Civic
and the followup at https://blog.torproject.org/blog/hackfest-thanks.
- Roger was the keynote speaker for Workshop on Free and Open Communication
on the Internet (FOCI), http://www.gtisc.gatech.edu/foci.html.
- Andrew talked to the Wesleyan HFOSS team about Tor and classwork for their
Summer 2011 session. http://hfoss.org/.
- Roger and Steven presented at Financial Crypto and the Workshop on the
Ethics of Computer Security Research.
- Andrew spoke at a few panels under Chatham House Rules. He published his
speech notes as a blog post,
- Roger wrote a blog post about using our data archive as input to new
- Roger talked to the Philly FBI for the Philadelphia Infragard chapter
about Tor and anonymity online.
- Roger taught a Tor lecture for Drexel's security class.
- Andrew was interviewed by Discovery News about Tor's role in the unrest in
Tunisia and Egypt,
- Andrew was interviewed by the Walpole Times about Tor and what we do,
Preconfigured privacy bundles
- Jacob did some testing of Gibberbot's Tor and OTR integration. Gibberbot
is an XMPP chat client for Android designed to work over Tor.
- Jacob did a bunch of work on ttdnsd - some important (but not critical)
bug fixes and he's planning on pushing out a release in the future. Jacob and
Robert did some work on torsocks integration and in the process hammered out a
reasonable torsocks API for people who want to have auto-magically Torified
sockets without understanding Tor internals.
- Jacob worked on OpenWRT packaging issues - as well as other work on the
- Jacob worked on Tahoe (http://tahoe-lafs.org/trac/tahoe-lafs) and
Tor related Hidden Service documentation; after moderate amount of Tor testing
with Tahoe now and it seems to be partially functional.
- Karsten prepared a patch for BridgeDB to export bridge pool assignments to
a local file. This patch needs some cleanup before being deployed on
- Karsten wrote a first draft of a BridgeDB specification that Nick
commented on. The next step is to include Nick's comments and change the
writing style, so that the specification describes what the current BridgeDB
code does, not what a generic BridgeDB implemention should do.
- Karsten extended the bridge descriptor sanitizing algorithm to include IP
address hashes in the sanitized descriptors. Sanitized all existing
bridge descriptors using this new algorithm. Instead of 127.0.0.1,
bridges now have 10.x.y.z addresses with x.y.z being stable for a given
bridge fingerprint in a given month. This allows analyses of how often
bridges change their IP addresses in a given month.
- Christian deployed a new version of BridgeDB, the one that's i18n enabled
(#1613) and also can dump bridge pool assignments to files. We can now
assign an amount of unassigned bridges to someone/something and dump
them to file buckets. See #1612 for more infos. In theory, we can now
have an amount of Twitter assigned bridges that we pump out over
- Christian also started writing a python script that is able to dump
stuff to Twitter.
- After deployment of the new BridgeDB, some issues came up that were fixed
(#2556 and others). It seems to run smoothly now. We'll be even more
happy about it when we have important (read: Chinese and Farsi)
translations ready and deployed.
- Christian and Karsten discussed about whether his planned "dump bridge
assignments to files" feature can use the bucket mechanism of #1612.
Turns out it can't since both have a different set of goals and would
be to painful to sync with every change.
- Mike helped Karsten with improving the output of Torperf for future
experiments involving circuit build timeouts.
- Improved Torperf and finally deployed it to collect data about used
paths and to measure performance with custom guard node selections.
This is still work in progress together with Mike and Tom as part of
our first Scrum iteration that ends on March 5.
- Worked on Florian's and Björn's token bucket patch some more together
with Sebastian. The current state of the patch is that it needs some
more love before it can be merged into 0.2.3.x.
- Nick collaborated a little with two volunteers on what we
think at this point must be the 5th generation of a "launch a private
network" tool. This one is called "chutney".
- Nick reviewed a bunch of patches, reviewed a bunch of bugs, fixed a
bunch of bugs, merged many people's code, got 0.2.2.x closer to done.
- Sebastian wrote a proposal for a safer voting process for consensus
parameters, and wrote an implementation for it.
- Damian started thinking about our various projects in a more streamlined
and easy-to-understand way. The results are at
- Christian cleaned up the rather hackish installation of Weather on bahri.
The stable installation now lives under `/home/weather/opt/current' and actually
is update-able through `git pull'. There's also a testing installation to test
stuff and play around at https://weather2.torproject.org/. He's tried to
update the documentation with all the stuff that is necessary to install and run
- Christian tried looking into #2467. Some people complained that Weather
didn't know their relay fingerprint. On Sebastian's and Mike's idea, Christian
changed the torrc to include `FetchDirInfoEarly 1' and `FetchUselessDescriptors
1'. Since that no one complained again about Weather not knowing a certain relay
(except for one time, when the Weather process had silently crashed and
therefore the database wasn't updated for a day).
- After Tor 0.2.1.30 was tagged and made it to the recommended versions',
people running 0.2.1.29 started complaining about getting "Node out of date!"
emails from Weather. It turned out that Weather was actually doing the right
thing, namely mailing them that they were not running the latest recommended
stable version anymore. No one seemed to have read the text near the checkbox in
the signup process. After discussing this intensely with Sebastian, we decided
to go for a more simple solution: People now get email when they don't run one
of the recommended versions or a more recent dev version of Tor.
More reliable downloads
- Christian did a rather large GetTor overhaul. The way GetTor manages its
packages is now much easier to understand and enhance. GetTor moved from a
ini-style configuration file and parser to a more BridgeDB-like configuration
management. Also, packages are now configured rather than hard coded. In
addition, he cleaned up the i18n management of GetTor to something similar to
what we use in BridgeDB. Not only are the translation strings cleaner now, but
the translation and installation is smoother. Also, the logging was simplified
because it had too many features that no one used and generally was polluting
the log file with too much useless information. Furthermore, the MakeStat.py
creates GetTor's package statistics was simplified a lot.
- Christian fixed #1586, users requesting non-existent split packages now
are informed about that fact.
- Nick worked on a thandy packaging spec with Erinn.
- Sebastian Started figuring out a way how translations can be pulled from
transifex and used in their respective products in a more automated
- New or updated website translations in French, Russian, Italian, Japanese,
Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Greek.