Torouter is the codename for a hardware project to provide an easy to set up Tor bridge or relay. It could also act as an optional wireless access point with all traffic transparently routed through Tor. The end goal is to have an easy to use system that is a bridge or relay by default, functions as your Internet router, and is around $120 or another hopefully reasonable price point.
There have been two approaches, taken by different groups, to implementing something called a torouter. One group, including some Tor Project developers, has built upon the debian linux distribution running on plug-computer-style hardware devices. At some future time the Tor Project might help organize the distribution of such dedicated devices specifically for use as Tor network nodes. Another group has built upon the existing OpenWRT Linux firmware, primarily targeting widely available consumer-grade routers with limited computing resources; there is a separate page documenting the OpenWRT efforts. See also this March 2012 tor-dev mailing list post describing the two approaches.
The Torouter project is alpha software. It has received some press but it is far from a well tested project. It is highly experimental and while seemingly functional, we have lots of bugs to iron out and features to implement. Please consider helping - we're open about our development process and we'd love for you to jump in and hack; there's a lot to do!
Please see the current proposed road map for the group targeting the DreamPlug plug-computer hardware.
The OpenWRT effort has a separate page.
In general: demonstrate, document, and streamline mechanisms for individuals with always-on internet connections to participate in and support both the Tor onion routing network and Tor Project initiatives.
Provide an accessible mechanism for friendly non-expert "general internet users" to opt-in and participate in the Tor network as a bridge with minimal effort.
Provide an accessible mechanism to informed and committed individuals to opt-in and and participate as a middle relay or an exit relay.
Provide a generic mechanism for publishing HTTP content via a Tor hidden service.
Provide a platform from which to potentially run OONI (Open Observatory of Network Interference) node software.
Additionally, implement a transparently Tor-ifying always-on network gateway to experimentally provide (limited) onion routing benefits to downstream devices. This last goal is controversial, and the serious scenarios where this would be useful seem very limited (devices must highly trust the gateway, the local network could be malicious and/or monitored, etc). Some speculative use cases:
- Creating demonstration/outreach networks
- Accessing hidden services with no concern for client-end anonymity
- Publicly sharing wireless internet access with less chance of being accountable for the actions of guests (perhaps not legally advisable)
- For a single operator in control of the entire local network, and having properly "anonymized" all downstream software to not leak identifying information, could have usability improvements for mobile devices which would not need to re-initialize connectivity to the onion network.
/These directions are likely obsolete/
If you have acquired DreamPlug hardware, you'll probably just want to install the current Torouter set of packages. Look at our Torouter git repo and specifically at the instructions for making a bootable DreamPlug USB disk .
We have three main prototype ideas: Debian ARM on the Excito NAS device, Debian ARM on the DreamPlug plug computer, and OpenWRT on an embedded MIPS devices. Please see the respective project page to understand the status of each.
There is strong interest in using a headless variant of the Novena open hardware laptop board as a hardware platform.
A few other hardware platforms were previously under investigation, such as Ubiquiti Networks equipment.
Assigned Tickets to this project
This document is based off of work with AccessLabs, the University of Washington Security and Privacy Research Lab with suggestions borrowed from the OpenWRT forum and other documents about transparent Tor networking.