(Last updated: 10-August-2010)
I’ve always thought the Tor Project (free internet anonymising service) was a worthwhile initiative. But the idea of having to run a Tor server somewhere seemed like a lot of effort. And I thought putting all my traffic through Tor would probably mean slow internet & possibly some internet services not working properly.
The Vidalia Project is a step in the right direction. You simply install the Vidalia bundle which includes Tor, install a ‘Tor button’ in your browser and – pow! – you have an ‘anonymise my internet right now’ button.
Download Vidalia: https://www.torproject.org/projects/vidalia.html.en
The ‘Tor button’ is reasonably straightforward. Note that right now the Firefox ‘enable Tor’ button extension that comes with the bundle will not work with Firefox 5. You’ll have to go get it here: https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbutton/torbutton-current.xpi
Google Chrome: There isn’t a Chrome ‘Tor button’ extension yet but the instructions for setting one up are super super easy.
It should be noted that internet is slow through Tor, and by default things like YouTube are blocked through Tor because of the personal information that can be passed through Flash. I guess the point here is you don’t really need Tor enabled for things like watching YouTube videos.
(Hat tip to Lifehacker whose What You Need to Know About the Internet Snooping Bill post first got me onto the Vidalia Project)
(Note: I only installed the Vidalia Project on Windows 7 so I can’t speak for the experience on other versions of Windows, Apple OS X & Linux/Unix)
Sounds like an interesting Firefox session at Gnomedex.
The conference espouses a bottom-up, audience-driven approach, making it an unpredictable if not outright chaotic affair… Discussion leaders included Blake Ross, of Firefox fame, whose presentation was upstaged by audience member…
Blake then referenced the Firefox flicks project – and played a video called “Wheee!” from it that poked fun at Microsoft IE, which got a great response from the geeks in the Gnomedex crowd. However Dave Winer found it in poor taste, because it doesn’t address users. Dave asked: “what are you going to do for us?”. Dave said that he thinks Firefox will become just like Microsoft. Blake didn’t accept that – at which point a bit of a ‘Dave vs the crowd’ ruckus ensued. Chris Pirillo, Gnomedex organizer and host, had to step in and ask that the “conversation” be carried on later.
A final question asked about how Firefox will scale. Blake said that “I’m not looking to scale up to the size of Microsoft”. Overall a very interesting session, spiced up by Dave Winer and also Steve Gillmor’s interventions. The crowd was very much in support of Blake and Firefox, but even so Dave’s point that Firefox has to appeal to normal users instead of focusing on fighting Microsoft was a good one.