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I recently noticed (by doing top) that there is a process running tor by the user debian-tor. I have installed tor, and use it frequently along with torsocks, but I didn't expect to see it running without my calling it first, and for a while it either wasn't happening or I didn't see it. Is this normal behavior, or is there something off?

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    This is normal behaviour. – cacahuatl Sep 12 '16 at 11:29
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    You can disable it's automatic starting by running update-rc.d tor disable or set RUN_DAEMON to "no" in /etc/defaults/tor. However note that commands like torsocks won't start tor and expect a tor daemon to be running already. – cacahuatl Sep 12 '16 at 11:47
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It seems you have installed the Tor package, either from Tor directly or as a Debian package. By default the software is set up to start by system start and it always runs in the background. So this is expected behaviour.

You can disable this with systemd or with startup scripts.

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