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I have done some research on Tor the past few months, trying to learn more about it's infrastructure, and have been successful for the most part. However, there is something that I can't seem to find out... I use Linux primarily due to it's efficiency in the fields of cryptography and anonymity, of which I am fascinated by. One thing I found quickly in my distro's repositories is the tor and the torbrowser-launcher packages. Using Tor as a SOCKS proxy is, although still effective, differing slightly in ways that I can't wrap my head around from the Tor Browser Bundle. I feel like this is a simply question, but I can't find the answer to it anywhere I've looked, so I've come here to ask. While using the Tor proxy (utilizing the NetworkManager to route traffic through Tor while using the "tor" command in a separate pts), I realized that I was unable to access .onion sites using a traditional browser (Chromium or Iceweasel) although my traffic was still routed through Tor. This is confusing to me, because there shouldn't be any difference between using the Tor Browser and the Tor proxy with a separate browser. They both have access to the same Tor introduction nodes. So why is it that the Tor Browser can access these hidden services and the Tor proxy cannot?

(I apologize if I have misconceptions about the network. I'm only 15, I don't expect to be able to have all the information of one of the most mysterious networks on the planet packed into my mind)

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Tor Browser is a patched version of Firefox that is maintained and distributed by the Tor Project, it includes a copy of Tor which is launches itself when its started. Tor Browser should be prefered over any other browser, part of it's design is to ensure that it won't accidentally send traffic outside of Tor. Your proxy settings on gnome or firefox for example, may be ignored and connections may be outside of Tor which could reveal to an observer what you're doing on Tor.

The inability to view onions may be related to the problems of proxy obedeince mentioned before, Chromium could be asking your upstream DNS server to resolve the onions rather than using Tor's SOCKS proxy to make the connections, and therefor telling your upstream DNS server what onion sites you are trying to visit.

Tor Browser's design spec is technical but will give you an idea of some of the problems that trying to make something like Chromium use Tor might result in. If you want to use a fully torified environment from within a gnome desktop you should consider using Tails as this is configured to be resistant to similar leaks.

It should probably be noted too that torbrowser-launcher is a different application again, it is a python script maintained by Micah Lee that automates the process of fetching, verifying and extracting the Tor Browser and also provides an apparmor profile for it (to help reduce the impact of it ever being hacked)

  • (I'm the one who posted this question originally, I've been having account issues) You were correct; the NetworkManager of Gnome was indeed contacting upstream DNS servers. I commented out all entries of /etc/resolv.conf and was successfully able to connect to an onion via a traditional browser. Thank you for your help! – TheFuzzyFish Jun 6 '16 at 19:01

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