Status Report

Hello fellow onion lovers! Winter is here, and with it gloomy overcast days and seasonal depression. Yay!

Half kidding aside, September and October have been a great couple of months. Saw a great performance of Jane Eyre with Shari, Cirque du Soleil’s Volta with my family, took care of my grandma a few weeks, fun Amazon team outing that was littered in Henry’s art (the same artist that decorated our tor office)…

flatsticks art

… and of course tasty, tasty code.

Stem 1.7

No surprise the big ticket item of these last couple months has been Stem 1.7. In the works for almost a year, this release included numerous features and fixes.

Check it out!

Membership Audit

Tis that time of year again! Per our membership policy and my duties as our membership secretary I’ve sunk several weeks into reviewing what folks have been up to. Lotta neat things!

Nothing too notworthy to announce at the moment. The process is chugging along reasonably smoothly. I’ve attempted to tailor it the best I can as an opportunity to re-integrate fringe members of our community that are drifting away. In some cases folks indicate that work, life, and other hobbies have made it time to move on. In others we’re brainstorming fun projects they might enjoy.

Curious to see how it goes!

Smaller things these last couple months include…

Greetings fellow onion enthusiasts! Like the rest of the summer August has been less tor-ry than usual. This month went toward eviscerating my home in an act of utter apartment seppuku.

apartment mess

Truly it’s amazing how much stuff closets accumulate. Dumped my every worldly possession in a pile and now dealing with the mess. I’ll be at this through September as well but so far so good. Eight full grocery bags of stuff to rid myself of and counting. Fun project!

Stem 1.7 Release Prep

As for the technical front… *sigh*. I told Matt I would release Stem 1.7 when he asked for it but six weeks later and still no release. Dealing with several pre-release issues…

Tor Summer of Privacy

This month Dave concluded his Tor SoP project. Honestly we didn’t get too far. I’ll probably advertise this project again in next year’s GSoC/SoP. That said, Dave sent quite a bit of code at the end so much of August went toward reviewing that.

PS. Already half way through September? Yikes. Between the tardiness of this report and spring cleaning I’m gonna skip my September update. I won’t be in Mexico but hope you all have fun!

Oh oops! Just realized I completely forgot last month’s status report. Probably just as well. Festivals and fun crowd tor out during the summer.

Strawberry Festival, Fremont Fair, Underground Tour, and spring cleaning aside honestly not much to report.

  • Lots of code reviewing. I might not be writing code but Dave is.
  • Membership and website adjustments. Rote work aside, rewrote our ‘welcome’ emails and worked with Tom on adding people page pronouns.
  • Revamped Stem’s equality checks and hashing. Hashes now account for attribute types, are consistent between interpreter runs, and cached by immutable classes.
  • Python 3.5 bundled a buggy lru_cache implementation. Stem now works around this.
  • Python 3.6’s new ‘async’ keyword broke Stem’s testing tools.

Hope everyone else is having a similarly great summer!


Driver trained his whole life for this moment.

Decorated space marine marooned with his fellow starving colonists, the microfusion rifle in his hands hummed with unearthly firepower. Enough to vaporize a mountain. But tonight Driver stalked pray of a different kind. His nemesis. His dinner. A sleeping, injured turtle with dementia.

Just two feet from his quarry Driver raised his weapon and… missed. He missed eighty times in a row.

Ya know, I didn’t feel bad that night when Driver starved. Clearly I’m playing too much Rimworld. module

Courtesy of teor Tor authority and fallback information now reside in their own files. This is great, as it allows Stem to provide fresh directory information through our module


COLUMN_FORMAT = '%-17s%-20s%-10s%-10s'

  authorities =
except IOError as exc:
  print('%s\n' % exc)
  authorities =

print(COLUMN_FORMAT % ('Name', 'Address', 'ORPort', 'DirPort'))

for authority in authorities.values():
  print(COLUMN_FORMAT % (authority.nickname, authority.address, authority.or_port, authority.dir_port))
% python 
Name             Address             ORPort    DirPort   
maatuska        80        443       
tor26           443       80        
Bifroest      443       80        
longclaw       443       80        
dizum       443       80        
bastet       443       80        
gabelmoo      443       80        
moria1          9101      9131      
dannenberg      443       80        
Faravahar      443       80        

May’s been quite a juggling act. Smaller things this month include…

"Mission accomplished!" I said. No aircraft carrier, but none the less you’d think I would learn from transnational snafus.

Much of March was still out of commission, but I’ve felt better a few weeks now so maybe this time it’ll hold? We didn’t get to a root cause so likely that whatever nailed me will crop back up someday. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. After all, there’s only so many orifices a doctor can probe… right?   (he says hopefully)

What could be funner than that, you ask? Taxes! And dentists! And paperwork! Kidding aside, last couple months had some great tor stuff too.

ORPort Descriptor Downloads

Stem can now download descriptors through ORPorts just like Tor!

reply = stem.descriptor.remote.get_server_descriptors(
  endpoint = stem.ORPort('', 90),

This came from a desire to health check my relay, but dovetails nicely with the ORPort capabilities that will be the big feature of Stem’s 1.7 release.

Stay tuned!

Descriptor Compression

Recently Tor added ZSTD and LZMA support and Stem now supports them too. ZSTD and LZMA’s higher compression ratio comes at a CPU cost and are less available, so when using these to save bandwidth you should provide a fallback…

reply = stem.descriptor.remote.get_server_descriptors(
  compression = (
    Compression.LZMA,  # higher compression but often unavailable
    Compression.GZIP,  # decent compression and always available

Summer of Privacy

A very, very warm welcome to Dave Rolek! Dave will be expanding Stem’s ORPort and hidden service v3 capabilities this summer as part of Tor Summer of Privacy.

Congrats, Dave!

Smaller things these last couple months include…

  • Expanded Nyx’s FAQ to clarify how to get started and explain why apt-get often doesn’t work.
  • Further expunged Nyx’s old name. Thanks to Homebrew for deprecating its old port. One of these days I should reach out to the Wikipedia editors as well…
  • Stem now supplies a user agent when downloading descriptors, so relays can distinguish Tor and Stem clients from others.
  • Formalized the procedure we use when checking membership activity to better avoid surprises and encourage past volunteers to get back involved.
  • Finally got around to swapping this blog to https. Yeah, yeah, I know…

Hi all! Nasty stomach bug left me sleeping and running between doctors most of the month so sadly not much to report. That said, feeling much better now so picking steam back up on tasty, tasty code.

On the fun-things front this month I wrote my second build for Path of Exile, but less than usual for Tor.


Tor Summer of Privacy

This year Google declined our GSoC application to make room for budding open source projects. Personally I think asking us to take a break every so often is applaudable (small projects need the boost!), but this left us asking: what next?

In 2015 when this happened we ran a smaller program of our own called Tor Summer of Privacy. Colin is now organizing a similar program for this year (thanks Colin!).

Stay tuned on Tor’s blog for the official announcement. Tim and I wrote a joint proposal, so if you wanna get involved with Tor this summer then check it out!

Tor Membership

This February the only other tidbit that comes to mind are a couple initiatives as our membership secretary. Kicked off the selection process for our next Community Council and began our bi-annual checkup for membership activity.

Hi all. Changes at work have me stressed so I’ll be skipping Rome this year, but none the less Tor has been a welcome anchor. Work may suck, but Tor? Well…

master plan

ORPort Protocol Support

As discussed yesterday Stem can now communicate over the ORPort protocol. Still lots of follow-up work to do, but thanks to Tim’s wonderful work prototyping how this is done with Endosome Stem can now download descriptors via the ORPort protocol!

import stem.client

with stem.client.Relay.connect('', 12345, [3]) as relay:
  circ = relay.create_circuit()
  circ.send('RELAY_BEGIN_DIR', stream_id = 1)
  desc = circ.send('RELAY_DATA', 'GET /tor/server/authority
HTTP/1.0\r\n\r\n', stream_id = 1).data


Which then provides…

% python
HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2018 18:42:41 GMT
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Encoding: identity
Expires: Fri, 09 Feb 2018 18:42:41 GMT

router Unnamed 12345 0 23456
-----BEGIN ED25519 CERT-----
-----END ED25519 CERT-----
master-key-ed25519 GqWzvYixQ9JfUhIhDBUFiE

Fallback Directory v2

Tim and I also worked together on a second iteration for our Fallback Directories. Expanded with additional data and a specification, Stem now supports the new format.

Happy New Years! Hope everyone’s holidays were delightful. Between candy canes and sugarplumbs December had some neat stuff…


Filled gaps within our tutorials, in particular multiprocessing and terminal styling

terminal styling demo

Also worked with toralf on a demo for summarizing relay connections

relay connections


To help us keep our various platforms up to date last month I put together a packages wiki. Sadly, the trouble with hand-edited wikis is that they get out of date.

To help with this we now have a daemon that notifies me when platforms have a new package available…

package versions

Hi wonderful world. Post-release followup and recent interview with Ben Collier has kept me pretty busy, but have a couple other fun things to report…

Packaging Community

Commonly major releases are followed by followup packaging work and Nyx’s recent release was no exception. But rather than simply work with our delightful packaging community as I usually do I decided instead to bring order to the chaos.

I’m delighted to say we now have a tor-packagers@ list where Tor developers can reach our packaging community, and packagers can subscribe to be notified of new releases. To go along with this I also made a wiki that gives an overview of our packages

packages wiki

Tor Relay: Caer Sidi

In folklore Caer Sidi was an otherworldly fortress, unsuccessfully assailed by the Prydwin in Arthur’s quest for the holy grail. It’s a name I’ve always wanted to use for a relay.

Flavor text aside, while ago I got permission from Dreamhost to run a non-exit relay on their cloud infrastructure so I’d have a busy relay on which to test Nyx. I haven’t tried pushing the envelope, but I can say it’s been a nice low-cost ($6/month) hosting experience thus far. It’s now listed as a good experience on our ISP wiki.

Seems I fail at sending these reports on time. Oh well, on with the show!

Nyx and Stem Release

As you may have guessed from last week’s announcement been busy with the launch of Nyx and Stem 1.6!

Very special thanks to…

  • Tommy and Stephanie for their delightful blog post.
  • All the relay operators that helped beta test Nyx.
  • George, Attila, and pascal for our new Stem and Nyx OpenBSD ports.
  • Derek, Juan, Anthony, Sjon, Alex, Markus, and Carlo for updating Stem and packaging Nyx for all our existing platforms. Damn you guys are fast!

Again, thanks all! Each of these made me do a little happy dance.

Montreal Developer Meeting

It’s the sign of a busy month if this isn’t my top highlight. As always Jon, Gunner, and Alison orchestrated a great meeting. Between discussions hit the sights and tried poutine for the first time.

Montreal dev meeting

As a final note the Tor office moved this month. Sadly this means we’re losing an absolutely fantastic mural done for us by Henry. However, we took some high definition photos. Here’s one I’ve rescaled to be usable as a wallpaper or poster…