About torbrowser-launcher in all current Debian distros plus some thoughts and scripts for running it more securely

So, torbrowser-launcher 0.1.2-1 is now in sid (only that version has the script examples discussed below), and 0.1.1-2(~bpo70+1) are in jessie and wheezy-backports.

Originally Jacob Appelbaum packaged torbrowser-launcher, then Ulrike Uhlig stepped in and fixed some major bugs, I sponsored her uploads and somehow the idea emerged to team maintain the package, so pkg-anonymity-tools was founded. So far it's only used for having a mailing list which is used for the Maintainer: field of the torbrowser-launcher package. But we invite all maintainers of anonymity related packages to join the team! Currently there ain't even a Debian teams wiki page about it (it would be great if YOU could fix that!), so that will probably be the next thing that will happen. As for version control we intend to use the collab-maint project on alioth. So joining the team is not done by joining the alioth project (technically you can do this, but it's rather pointless), but rather by putting the pkg-anonymity-tools mailing list into the Maintainer: field of your package (and you and other people into the Uploaders: field) and subscribing to that very mailing list. Once more packages are maintained that way we'll need to see whether we'll need more mailing lists (eg one specific for commit notifications) or if we rely on client side filtering only or what else should be done.

The example scripts (available in /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples in the package from sid or in git) show how to run torbrowser-launcher, confined with AppArmor, in Xephyr (a virtual Xserver running on another Xserver) as another user. This, using AppArmor and Xephyr, shall have two effects:

  • the browser process (and it's subprocesses) can - thanks to AppArmor confinement - only access a tiny part of the filesystem
  • the real Xserver is not exposed to the browser application, so hopefully that application cannot exploit bugs to grab keyboard input from other applications.

Does that really help? Feedback welcome.

Full quote of /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples/README:

torbrowser-launcher launcher scripts

These scripts are intended to run torbrowser-launcher (and thus torbrowser) as
another user in an Xephyr window server running inside your normal Xorg

They assume the following packages are installed:

- torbrowser-launcher
- apparmor
- xserver-xephyr, awesome
- sudo, slay, psmisc

AppArmor should be enabled, but doesn't have to. I followed the HowTo from
https://wiki.debian.org/AppArmor, which can be summed up as just adding one
parameter to the kernel to enable it, followed by a reboot.

Using Apparmor has the advantage that the browser process cannot most of the
filesystem, eg saving downloads only works in ~/.torbrowser/tbb/x86_64/tor-browser_en-US/Desktop/

On wheezy, I'm using backports for torbrowser-launcher and apparmor.

The scripts assume they have been copied to /usr/local/bin/ and that there is
a user called "foo" (for running the actuall torbrowser(-launcher) process,
and that the current user has sudo rights for the following commands:

- sudo -i -u foo /usr/local/bin/tbb-l-wrapper
- sudo slay foo

There are two scripts, tbb-in-xephyr and tbb-l-wrapper. Only tbb-in-xephyr is
to be called directly and will result in torbrowser running in Xephyr.

Known problems:

- dbus is not started, so some input methods won't work. (Personally I don't
  want/need dbus though, so I'm awaiting a solution to
- not everybody likes awesome as the window manager being used ;)

Ideas, questions and ToDo:

- maybe all of this functionality could be integrated into.
  torbrowser-launcher itself, just writing this in shell was so easy.
- or for the time being, merge these two scripts into one, doing both,
  depending on how its called. Also make them run from everywhere.
- run this in an unprivileged LXC container, which is also apparmor confined.
- (when) does this double confinement make sense?
- use a more sensible named default user (instead of foo).
- there should really be an option, so torbrowser-launcher doesn't detach
  itself, so that this "while;ps fax|grep" hack can go away.
- ship an usable sudoers.d example too.
- support for more users / instances

Feedback welcome, especially accompanied by patches!