Feature #17350

Document for the Tor Browser team in which ways we are a special downstream

Added by intrigeri 2019-12-14 16:52:43 . Updated 2020-02-26 08:53:30 .

Target version:
Start date:
Due date:
% Done:


Feature Branch:
Type of work:
Contributors documentation

Affected tool:
Deliverable for:


We’re shipping and using Tor Browser in a very non-standard manner. One direct consequence is that some changes in Tor Browser, that are fine for everyone else, can break our setup or force us to adjust stuff. The Tor Browser team has shown willingness in the last years to take our “special needs” into account, but how/whether this works relies on a rather fragile combination of factors. For example, a Tor Browser team lead that has our needs in mind can make a big difference.

One basic thing we could do to help the Tor Browser team take our needs into account is to… express these needs :)

One way to do this would be to publish a bullet list of how we’re special. Then, in the best case, the Tor Browser folks look at it proactively when they’re considering changes; and worst case, we have something we can point them to.

IMO we should put about 1h into this to start with, not more. It’s fine if it’s a standalone document that is not properly integrated into our design doc (although a link from our design doc to this document might be useful).


Related issues

Blocks Tails - Feature #16209: Core work: Foundations Team Confirmed


#1 Updated by intrigeri 2019-12-14 16:52:59

#2 Updated by intrigeri 2019-12-14 16:57:57

  • Target version set to Tails_4.3

Initial braindump to get things started:

  • We ship all langpacks and select the UI language depending on the locale chosen by the user in Tails Greeter.
  • We run Tor Launcher separately from Tor Browser.
    Rationale: Tor Browser is not allowed to configure tor.
  • We use Tor Browser’s firefox binary for our Unsafe Browser, which is not torified.
  • We ship the uBlock Origin add-on (from Debian). To make this work, we patch stuff in omni.ja so that signature verification is skipped for this add-on.

#3 Updated by segfault 2019-12-15 18:27:53

  • We modify preferences in omni.ja to change UI elements
  • We append Tails-specific preferences to the default preferences in omni.ja

#4 Updated by intrigeri 2020-01-06 15:16:44

  • Assignee set to intrigeri

#5 Updated by intrigeri 2020-01-26 07:43:59

  • Status changed from Confirmed to Resolved
  • % Done changed from 0 to 100

Applied in changeset commit:tails|0909d817cecb8d0e344f78cecf7b1e26c079d8fc.

#6 Updated by intrigeri 2020-02-26 08:53:30

FTR, the updated doc lives in https://tails.boum.org/contribute/design/#tor-browser. I’ve sent the link to tbb-dev and after discussing with them where else I should put it, I’ve added it to https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorBrowser.

sysrqb, geko and I plan to discuss this further at the next Tor meeting.