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I am running a hidden service on an Ubuntu 14.04 laptop using the Apache 2 web server. I have downloaded the Tor Browser bundle and it works correctly.

For some reason, I cannot access the hidden service's .onion url from another computer (using the Tor Browser) unless the Tor Browser is running on my server machine.

I can access the site through localhost:port in a normal browser, so Apache is working. And I can access the site through the .onion url with the Tor Browser on either the server machine or another machine, but only when the Tor Browser is running on the server machine.

Is this intentional? Are hidden service servers always running a Tor Browser in the background? If not, what am I doing wrong and/or what config files should I post for community analysis?

The tor service is running according to ss -aln | grep 9050.

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I think ss -aln may be misleading you. The tor socket might still be listed by ss even after tor stops. Does pgrep -x tor or sudo service tor status indicate that tor is running?

I ask because I thought that when you exit tor-browser, the corresponding tor will die too, unless you have tor installed separately, in which case tor-browser may use the already running tor and not kill said tor upon exiting. This would explain why your onion service is only accessible when tor-browser is open.

If you want to run an onion service without having tor-browser open, try installing standalone tor system wide with sudo apt-get install tor and configuring your system-wide tor configuration, probably /etc/tor/torrc to setup your onion service.

  • You were pretty much spot-on. I did have the standalone tor application installed, but my hidden service settings were written in my Tor Browser's torrc file. I'm pretty certain the tor service was running in the background, so I'm not sure how I was able to run the Tor Browser over top of that, but once I moved the hidden service settings to the file at /etc/tor/torrc and set the HiddenServiceDir to a directory in /var/lib/tor/ (which is owned by the debian-tor user), it worked. I can now access the hidden service without opening the Tor Browser. – William Apr 19 '15 at 19:58

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