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Pavel Vergeev
Pavel Vergeev

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Let's Run a Tor Bridge! Quick Reference Guide

In its recent newletter the Tor Project asked for help with setting up new, uncensored bridges. Since this is a good way to contribute to the project, I went ahead and did it. While doing so, I've compiled this quick reference guide on how to run a bridge relay and why doing so is a good idea.

What is Tor

Watch a video overview of Tor

TL;DR: Tor is a network for circumventing censorship and protecting identity online.

How Tor works

Read detailed description of Tor inner workings

TL;DR: The Tor browser connects to a network of publicly-listed interconnected nodes. They toss the packets to each other in a randomized fashion, anonymizing the sender of the packets.

What does a Tor bridge do

Read documentation for the Tor bridges

TL;DR: Bridge relays allow to connect to Tor network even if it's banned by the government. Also, the bridges hide the fact that a person uses Tor.

Why should you run a bridge

Read the post asking to run more bridges

TL;DR: It allows people living in oppressive regimes to have access to the open internet. Free access to information is a basic human right.

How to run a bridge

  1. Rent a VPS or use the one already at your disposal. I found DigitalOcean the most convenient provider to use, but went ahead with my local provider to reduce the cost of running the relay.
  2. Follow the installation instructions. Docker installation is the easiest one.

Monitoring

Post-install notes describe the process. You can also count the number of users by viewing the relay logs. It can take up to several month before your bridge gets its first user. It's advised to be patient and wait until your bridge accumulates users.

TL;DR: Go to the relay search, and type in your relay fingerprint. Here's the example of the page you'll get. Bookmark it, and you'll be able to monitor your bridge activity.


Big thanks to Philipp Winter of the Tor Project for helping me to set up my first bridge.

If you find yourself in need of advice, don't hesitate to email me to pavel@vergeev.site.

Discussion (2)

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treaz profile image
Horia Constantin

Hi Pavel, awesome post. I chose hetzner instead of ArubaCloud.
I do have a suggestion for improvement: monitoring of the bridge.
Let me explain: after the setup is done I want to be notified when the service goes down/up. Email is just fine, but I'd like to know that the bridge is up all the time. Could you add it to your post?

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vergeev profile image
Pavel Vergeev Author

You can monitor your bridge activity with relay search, as described in post-install notes. I've added the section on it to the blog post.

I've worked on an automated solution for bridge monitoring for some time now, and I didn't find a robust solution that I would like more than a simple bookmark.