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Utilizing Vidalia, one was able to view the process of connection to Tor perior to Tor version 3.5 (This was possible by opening the message Log of Vidalia Control Panel). Now, even if one enable Vidalia manually, it is after the establishment of initial Tor circuit. So at least thru Vidalia control panel one can not view the process of establishment of Tor connection. Is there a way to view this process for the following OS software? 1. Windows 2. GNU/Linux; This is helpful if for some reason connection to Tor was not successful and one try to debug the problem or ask for help, as it may give some clues to the source of the problem.

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Bootstrapping process

If all you want to do is see the bootstrapping process the easiest way would be to simply run start-tor-browser from the command line (Windows, Linux, or anything else; the example below is from a Linux system) and watch the output.

sam@stellata tor-browser_en-US $ ./start-tor-browser 

Launching Tor Browser Bundle for Linux in /home/sam/Downloads/tor-browser_en-US

(process:3866): GLib-CRITICAL **: g_slice_set_config: assertion 'sys_page_size == 0' failed
Xlib:  extension "RANDR" missing on display ":0.0".

(firefox:3866): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: Attempt to add property GnomeProgram::sm-connect after class was initialised

(firefox:3866): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: Attempt to add property GnomeProgram::show-crash-dialog after class was initialised

(firefox:3866): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: Attempt to add property GnomeProgram::display after class was initialised

(firefox:3866): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: Attempt to add property GnomeProgram::default-icon after class was initialised
Feb 12 11:21:05.600 [notice] Tor v0.2.4.20 (git-d90102bcf0c25d96) running on Linux with Libevent 2.0.21-stable and OpenSSL 1.0.1f.
Feb 12 11:21:05.600 [notice] Tor can't help you if you use it wrong! Learn how to be safe at https://www.torproject.org/download/download#warning
Feb 12 11:21:05.600 [notice] Read configuration file "/home/sam/Downloads/tor-browser_en-US/Data/Tor/torrc-defaults".
Feb 12 11:21:05.600 [notice] Read configuration file "/home/sam/Downloads/tor-browser_en-US/Data/Tor/torrc".
Feb 12 11:21:05.605 [notice] Opening Control listener on 127.0.0.1:9151
Feb 12 11:21:05.605 [notice] DisableNetwork is set. Tor will not make or accept non-control network connections. Shutting down all existing connections.
Feb 12 11:21:05.000 [notice] Parsing GEOIP IPv4 file /home/sam/Downloads/tor-browser_en-US/Data/Tor/geoip.
Feb 12 11:21:05.000 [notice] We were built to run on a 64-bit CPU, with OpenSSL 1.0.1 or later, but with a version of OpenSSL that apparently lacks accelerated support for the NIST P-224 and P-256 groups. Building openssl with such support (using the enable-ec_nistp_64_gcc_128 option when configuring it) would make ECDH much faster.
Feb 12 11:21:05.000 [notice] New control connection opened.
Feb 12 11:21:05.000 [notice] DisableNetwork is set. Tor will not make or accept non-control network connections. Shutting down all existing connections.
Feb 12 11:21:05.000 [notice] New control connection opened.
Feb 12 11:21:15.000 [notice] Opening Socks listener on 127.0.0.1:9150
Feb 12 11:21:15.000 [notice] Renaming old configuration file to "/home/sam/Downloads/tor-browser_en-US/Data/Tor/torrc.orig.1"
Feb 12 11:21:15.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 5%: Connecting to directory server.
Feb 12 11:21:15.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 10%: Finishing handshake with directory server.
Feb 12 11:21:16.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 15%: Establishing an encrypted directory connection.
Feb 12 11:21:16.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 20%: Asking for networkstatus consensus.
Feb 12 11:21:16.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 25%: Loading networkstatus consensus.
Feb 12 11:21:18.000 [notice] I learned some more directory information, but not enough to build a circuit: We have no usable consensus.
Feb 12 11:21:20.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 40%: Loading authority key certs.
Feb 12 11:21:21.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 45%: Asking for relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:21.000 [notice] I learned some more directory information, but not enough to build a circuit: We need more microdescriptors: we have 0/5244, and can only build 0% of likely paths. (We have 0% of guards bw, 0% of midpoint bw, and 0% of exit bw.)
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 50%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 52%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 54%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 56%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 58%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 60%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 62%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 64%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 66%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 68%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 70%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 72%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 74%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 76%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:22.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 78%: Loading relay descriptors.
Feb 12 11:21:24.000 [notice] We now have enough directory information to build circuits.
Feb 12 11:21:24.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 80%: Connecting to the Tor network.
Feb 12 11:21:24.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 90%: Establishing a Tor circuit.
Feb 12 11:21:26.000 [notice] Tor has successfully opened a circuit. Looks like client functionality is working.
Feb 12 11:21:26.000 [notice] Bootstrapped 100%: Done.
0 migrated.
Feb 12 11:21:27.000 [notice] New control connection opened.
Could not check applicable rules for about:tor

If you're on a Unix or Unix like system (eg. Linux, OSX) you can also log output to a file using tee or a similar application:

./start-tor-browser | tee tor-browser.log

If more information is needed, I recommend using a control program such as Arm.

Internal information

If you're on a Unix like OS, you can also force Tor to dump more information about what it's currently doing by sending a SIGUSR1 signal to the Tor process.

On Linux this can be accomplished with:

kill -s SIGUSR1 PID

On other systems this might be slightly different. See man kill for more info. This will dump a history information and internal process state to STDOUT.

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As far as I know there is no way to observe the Tor connection process via the Vidalia control panel. As for windows or GNU/Linux I don't know if any tools fitting your description exist, nor for that matter if they should. Tor was created to keep you anonymous on the internet, and if you could see how it does what it does, then some stupid bureaucrat somewhere may decide to do something about it or ie NSA/CIA....

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