Kushal Das

FOSS and life. Kushal Das talks here.


Onion location and Onion names in Tor Browser 9.5

Yesterday the Tor Browser 9.5 was released. I am excited about this release for some user-focused updates.

Onion-Location header

If your webserver provides this one extra header Onion-Location, the Tor Browser will ask the user if they want to visit the onion site itself. The user can even mark to visit every such onion site by default. See it in action here.

To enable this, in Apache, you need a configuration line like below for your website’s configuration.

Onion location demo

Header set Onion-Location "http://your-onion-address.onion%{REQUEST_URI}s"

Remember to enable rewrite module.

For nginx, add the following in your server configuration.

add_header Onion-Location http://<your-onion-address>.onion$request_uri;

URL which we can remember aka onion names

This is the first proof of concept built along with Freedom of the Press Foundation (yes, my team) and HTTPS Everywhere to help people to use simple names for onion addresses. For example, below, you can see that I typed theintercept.securedrop.tor.onion on the browser, and that took us to The Intercept’s SecureDrop address.

Onion name

A few things from last week

Last Monday I wrote some tips on security while working from home. in Economic Time. This includes some basic steps everyone of us can take. If you want to follow better practices, please read https://ssd.eff.org.

There was a fake news going around in WhatsApp about government surveillance, a story was published to bust this myth, and I answered a questions for that story. You can read it in either The Wire or Alt News site.

Introducing ManualBox project

One of the major security features of the QubesOS is the file vaults, where access to specific files can only happen via user input in the GUI applet. Same goes to the split-ssh, where the user has to allow access to the ssh key (actually on a different VM).

I was hoping to have similar access control to important dotfiles with passwords, ssh private keys, and other similar files on my regular desktop system. I am introducing ManualBox which can provide similarly access control on normal Linux Desktops or even on Mac.

GIF of usage

How to install?

Follow the installation guide on the Mac in the wiki. For Linux, we are yet to package the application, and you can directly run from the source (without installing).

git clone https://github.com/kushaldas/manualbox.git
cd manualbox

On Fedora

sudo dnf install python3-cryptography python3-qt5 python3-fusepy python3-psutil fuse -y

On Debian

sudo apt install python3-cryptography python3-pyqt5 python3-fusepy python3-psutil fuse

Usage guide

To start the application from source:

On Linux:


On Mac:

Click on the App icon like any other application.

If you are running the tool for the first time, it will create a new manualbox and mount it in ~/secured directory, it will also give you the password, please store it somewhere securely, as you will need it to mount the filesystem from the next time.

initial screen

After selecting (or you can directly type) the mount path (must be an empty directory), you should type in the password, and then click on the Mount button.

File system mounted

Now, if you try to access any file, the tool will show a system notification, and you can either Allow or Deny via the following dialog.

Allow or deny access

Every time you allow file access, it shows the notification message via the system tray icon.

Accessing file msg

To exit the application, first click on the Unmount, and right-click on the systray icon, and click on the Exit or close via window close button.

How to exit from the application

Usage examples (think about your important dotfiles with passwords/tokens)

Note: If you open the mounted directory path from a GUI file browser, you will get too many notifications, as these browsers will open the file many times separately. Better to have you GUI application/command line tool to use those files as required.


You can store your thuderbird profile into this tool. That way, thunderbird needs your permission for access when you start the application.

ls -l ~/.thunderbird/
# now find your right profile (most people have only one)
mv ~/.thunderbird/xxxxxx.default/logins.json ~/secured/
ln -s ~/secured/logins.json ~/.thunderbird/xxxxxx.default/logins.json

SSH private key

mv ~/.ssh/id_rsa ~/secured/
ln -s ~/secured/id_rsa ~/.ssh/id_rsa

If you have any issues, please file issues or even better a PR along with the issue :)

Tor rpm package repository for Fedora and CentOS/RHEL

Now we have official Tor RPM repositories for Fedora, CentOS/RHEL. The support documentation is already in place.

Using this repository, you can get the latest Tor build for your distribution from the upstream project itself. Tor already provides similar packages for Debian/Ubuntu systems.

How to enable the repository in your Fedora box?

Add the following to the /etc/yum.repos.d/tor.repo.

name=Tor for Fedora $releasever - $basearch

Then you can install the package via regular dnf command.

$ sudo dnf install tor

You will have to import the new keys used for signing these packages.

Importing GPG key 0x3621CD35:
Userid : "Kushal Das (RPM Signing key) <kushal@torproject.org>"
Fingerprint: 999E C8E3 14BC 8D46 022D 6C7D E217 C30C 3621 CD35
From : https://rpm.torproject.org/fedora/public_gpg.key
Is this ok [y/N]: y

If you run a Tor relay (which you all should, one of the easiest ways to contribute to the project and help people worldwide) on CentOS/RHEL, you can use similar repository configuration.