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Tor Config Files[edit]

Current Implementation[edit]

The implementation is as it follows.

  • /etc/tor/torrc holds minimal content, so we don't have to update it ever again
  • Instructions in /etc/tor/torrc say "copy and paste from /etc/tor/torrc.examples".
  • We should never update /etc/tor/torrc because that would lead to an interactive dpkg conflict resolution dialog [1] [2], because that would be bad from an usability perspective. Such an interactive dpkg conflict resolution dialog confuses quite some users. Also from a security perspective, if the user chooses Y or I (install the package maintainer's version), the user may lose its (security) settings such for example its proxy and/or obfuscated bridges settings.
  • /etc/tor/torrc.examples contains configuration examples.
  • Whonix's Tor settings go into /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc.
  • Users will ignore /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc, because this file is barely advertised and barely popular.
  • /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc can be updated without any conflicts with user modifications.
  • https://github.com/Whonix/anon-gw-anonymizer-config

Rejected Alternatives[edit]

Only Two Config Files[edit]

  • Using only /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc and /etc/tor/torrc, not using /etc/tor/torrc.examples.
  • And having configuration examples (instructions) in /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc. Using a minimal /etc/tor/torrc to tell them to look into /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc for configuration examples.
  • This is a bad idea, because users get tempted comment in things in /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc.
  • When they do this, they settings would get lost and overwritten without asking next time they update anon-gw-anonymizer-config, because /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc is not a configuration file (since in /usr, not /etc folder).

Only One Config File[edit]

  • Using only /etc/tor/torrc, leaving /usr/share/tor/tor-service-defaults-torrc with defaults (from Debian), not using /etc/tor/torrc.examples.
  • Using /etc/tor/torrc for user examples, user's own modifications and Whonix's Tor settings.
  • This is bad, because when users have edited /etc/tor/torrc and anon-gw-anonymizer-config gets updated, it will throw an interactive dpkg conflict resolution dialog[1]. Users might decide to keep their old config file and will miss (security) improvements.

Missing /etc/tor.d/ Feature[edit]

Upstream feature request:
torrc.d-style configuration directories

Not having an /etc/tor.d/ style folder (similar to Whonix modular flexible .d style configuration folders) makes implementation of additional features that require additional Tor (/etc/tor/torrc) settings much harder. For example it would improve usability to provide a whonix-gw-hidden-webserver package, that automates the Whonix-Gateway specific instructions for Hidden Services. If there was a /etc/tor.d/ style folder, we could just drop the configuration snippet there, and if the feature gets disabled or the package installed, that configuration snippet gets purged. Adding additions to /etc/tor/torrc with a script is problematic, because those additions cannot be removed by a script if the user slightly modified those lines.

Maybe clearly marking the configuration snippet would help.

### BEGIN whonix-gw-hidden-webserver ###
## Add your modifications on top of BEGIN or below END.
## It is automatically generated by whonix-gw-hidden-webserver with settings
## from /etc/whonix.d folder. If you edit this section, removal by
## whonix-gw-hidden-webserver will fail. To remove this section, run:
## sudo whonix-hw
HiddenServiceDir /var/lib/tor/hidden_service/
HiddenServicePort 80
### END whonix-gw-hidden-webserver ###


  1. 1.0 1.1 interactive dpkg conflict resolution dialog exampleː
    Configuration file `/etc/tor/torrc'
     ==> Modified (by you or by a script) since installation.
     ==> Package distributor has shipped an updated version.
       What would you like to do about it ?  Your options are:
        Y or I  : install the package maintainer's version
        N or O  : keep your currently-installed version
          D     : show the differences between the versions
          Z     : background this process to examine the situation
     The default action is to keep your current version.
    *** interfaces (Y/I/N/O/D/Z) [default=N] ? N
  2. Because, /etc/tor/torrc comes with an out commented #DisableNetwork 0 which gets commented in by whonixsetup, i.e. whonixsetup changes that line to DisableNetwork 0, which dpkg will consider as user modification.

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