With the Raspberry Pi 4, the USB Micro-B connector has been replaced by a USB-C connector for the power supply. This was also necessary because, so far, no other Raspberry Pi model has drawn that much power. USB-C supports an electrical supply of at least 20V / 3A / 60W up to a maximum of 20V / 5A / 100W. This would be enough for a Raspberry Pi 4 under full load and additional USB devices, even if the official Raspberry Pi 4 Power Supply Unit (PSU) provides “only” 15.3W. In contrast, the sold USB Micro-B to USB-C adapter is not a long-lasting solution because the maximum power delivery of such an adapter is 12.5W. Especially in the beginning, when the Raspberry Pi 4 was new on the market, there were power supply problems if the official PSU of the Raspberry Pi Foundation was not used.
Even if the overall power consumption of the Raspberry Pi 4 was significantly improved with the firmware updates in late autumn 2019, this has not been the only problem with the USB-C connector. Due to a faulty circuit, many existing USB-C power supplies and cables cannot power the Raspberry Pi 4. Only “dumb” cables without a SOP controller are working.
Actually, the bug was fixed with board revision 1.2, which theoretically should be available in stores starting from the end of February. However, since this is not visible on the labeling, buying a Raspberry Pi 4 is like playing Russian Roulette. By looking at the packaging, the revision of the board inside is not recognizable. If the board finally ends up in your hands, you can tell by a transistor right next to the “MICRO” lettering of the MicroSD card slot that this is board revision 1.2 or not (see image on the right side). If the board is already in operation, there are several commands to check the board revision:
Currently, we are working on TorBox’s version 0.3.2. One main goal for this upcoming version is to tackle a range of connection problems mentioned by some users. For example, in some cases, cable connections to the Internet or client devices have not worked as expected. As a result, we have improved the way TorBox configures its network settings, which should minimize the need to reboot it or switch from one connection setting to another in its main menu to unstack a blocked connection. At the same time, we have fixed an error in the Internet indicator (a flash that shows you from where the Internet is coming) in the main menu.
Other improvements are the fetching of a new OBFS4 bridge with the help of the TorBox menu, the possibility to deactivate TorBox’s access point functionality (this can be useful in a situation when the client is connected with a cable, and a low profile is wanted), the support for 3.5“ no-name TFT displays and other less obvious changes.
If all works out as planned, the new version should be released at the end of August. However, we depend on your feedback to ensure the highest possible quality of the version to be released. For example, based on an user’s request, additional to the SOCKS5 socket on port 9050, we also implemented another one on port 9051, which supports stream isolation depending on the destination addresses. In other words, different destination addresses use different Tor circuits. We would like to hear your feedback on your experiences on that feature to decide if we go to enable it for the entire data stream in the future, not only for that particular socket. We are currently worried about a possible negative impact on stability and performance if all data are handled with such an extensive kind of stream isolation. We would also like to hear which other displays we should support.
You can install the pre-version of TorBox 0.3.2 by following this process:
Please, make sure that TorBox has Internet connectivity.
It is not surprising that technology is playing an essential role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. However, this pandemic is the first of its kind to use modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) for almost real-time responses. This can be seen, for example, with Nextstrain, where the geographic spread and mutation of the virus can be tracked by examining its genetic code. Sequencing is an important, fundamental technology here that makes a detailed understanding of the virus and insights into combating the pandemic possible. It has been possible to identify the nucleotide sequence of a DNA or RNA molecule since 1995. However, there has since been breathtaking progress that has revolutionized the biological sciences.
The progress of the past 25 years can be seen in the speed with which the coronavirus could be sequenced entirely. While the SARS (SARS-CoV) virus took about three months to sequence, the novel coronavirus was sequenced within a month, with the results published January 10, 2020, by Professor Zhang Yong-Zhen of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center. While globalization made it possible for the virus to spread worldwide quickly, global networking is helping to investigate the virus with its unique scope and nature. Specialized laboratories that have acquired the necessary molecules for a few thousand dollars can use the published genome sequence to assemble a copy of the virus, inject it into a cell, and activate it. Of course, there is also a certain risk associated with this ability, as was demonstrated 20 years ago when a deadly virus was produced from an emailed genome sequence. In order to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands and being used for the wrong purpose, orders placed in the United States for specific pieces of DNA are recorded in a database and are only delivered to authorized laboratories. Besides, the technological hurdles for the laboratories remain quite high (for now). The big advantage of this technology is that specialized laboratories around the world can research a virus without the need for a live sample from a contaminated area. Ralph S. Baric, a US coronavirus expert, sees this technology as the future of how the medical research community will respond to new viral threats. In 2008, his laboratory at the University of North Carolina had synthesized a coronavirus for study purposes that have been not existing in nature.
We are at the point where the best of the best can start to synthesize this new virus contemporaneously with the outbreak. But that is just a few labs. Fortunately, we are still far from the point when lots of people can synthesize anything.
Technologies based on AI not only accelerate the sequencing and analysis of genomes but are also used to support diagnostics and research. Although the analysis of a nasopharyngeal swab is the most common method of a COVID-19 diagnosis, if there is a lack of test kits or if the patient population is very high, AI techniques can use CT scans of the lungs on a triage basis to identify those patients that are most likely to be infected. However, it is rather questionable whether this technique alone can also be used to diagnose an infection. Besides, the diagnosis of a nasopharyngeal swab is more reliable and cheaper if there are enough test kits. By contrast, the use of AI makes more sense when searching for and developing effective treatment and vaccination options. For example, Insilico Medicine used AI techniques to identify thousands of molecules for potential drugs in just four days and published the results on its website. Nevertheless, AI cannot solve every problem: before new treatment methods, or vaccination options can be used, they have to pass time-consuming clinical tests, which cannot be accelerated with modern technologies. It is, therefore, still unlikely that vaccination will be available on the market before the third quarter of 2021. An overview of all the currently researched treatment methods and vaccination options can be found here.
Networking plays a central role in all of these technological approaches. However, this networking can have negative consequences when the widespread fear and high demand for information are exploited. In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe in particular, false information that spread via WhatsApp and Telegram encouraged panic buying. Since the retailers were unable to replenish their shelves quickly enough for logistical and personnel reasons, the gaps suggested a non-existent supply problem, which only exacerbated the hoarding.
The threats to society that arise from the expansion and increasing use of surveillance options are at a more strategic level. Already end of April, 23 countries had introduced digital contact tracing, and 43 apps existed worldwide that enabled contact tracing. However, not all of these apps are effective or secure. The apps, all of which only use GPS, fail to provide enough precision to prevent false reports. Ten countries have gone even further and have been using facial recognition cameras (in Russia, for example); others have been added heat sensors (for example, China and Singapore), surveillance drones (for example, Australia, China, and India), and networked video surveillance systems (for example, Singapore). Censorship measures have been tightened in at least twelve countries (for example, in China, Cambodia, and Singapore), and internet access has been restricted in at least four countries.
If data is to be recorded, collected, and evaluated using a contact tracing app, for example, to combat the coronavirus pandemic, certain basic conditions must be observed from an ethical perspective. Proportionality must be the first priority, i.e., data collection must be proportionate to the seriousness of the threat to public health or the restriction of public life. The consequences that the restrictive measures designed to contain the pandemic will have on other freedoms and the health consequences in the absence of such restrictive measures fundamentally affirm an ethically justifiable use of contact tracing apps. However, such apps, as well as the data collected and evaluated by them, must be restricted in such a way that they are used only for this one goal, i.e., to warn someone that has come into contact with a person diagnosed as infected. The app and data must not be misused for other purposes, lawful or otherwise, such as criminal investigations, anti-terrorism efforts, etc. In addition, there needs to be scientific proof that the solution delivers the intended added value, which is why contact tracing apps based exclusively on GPS are ethically questionable due to their inaccuracy. Besides, the data collected should be anonymized effectively and stored as decentrally as possible. Information on the recording, collection, and evaluation of data must be provided transparently; this also includes keeping the source code for such apps open. The purpose of the transfer of data to third parties must be clear to the data subjects, and they must be able to rescind permission to such data collection in the future. The use of such apps, as well as the provision of the data, must be voluntary and only for a limited time. When an effective vaccine becomes available, the data collection must be stopped, the app and existing data have to be deleted.
Our goal with TorBox is not only to simplify the use of Tor as an anonymizing router but also to bring the use of bridges closer to those who want to get around censorship easily — with all their network traffic, not just their browser traffic.
TorBox v.0.3.1 comes one step closer to this goal. Not only has the management of OBFS4bridges been improved once again, but it’s also now possible to check the status of bridges (online, offline, or doesn’t exist anymore) and based on that to enable, disable and delete them. For operators of a bridge relay, the possibility to backup and restore the relay data has been implemented. Also, other smaller improvements and wishes have been taken into account, which are listed in detail below.
Since we also had to update the configuration files, we recommend using the new image rather than updating an existing system. We have added a short guide at the end of this post for those who absolutely must update from the previous version (not older!).
New: The list of OBFS4 bridges displays now the status of the bridge (online, offline, or doesn’t exist anymore – see image below). The bridge management is rewritten. You can now easily activate, deactivate, and remove bridges in three ways: all, based on a specific status of the bridge or only selected. For example, you could activate all bridges, deactivate only the offline ones, and remove bridge #3 and #5.
New: The ability to backup and restore your bridge relay configuration, including your identity keys. This is important because when upgrading your bridge relay or moving it on a different computer, the important part is to keep the same identity keys. Keeping backups of the identity keys so you can restore a relay in the future is the recommended way to ensure the reputation of the relay won’t be wasted. The backup is stored / can be placed in the home directory, in which you can download / upload it with an SFTP client (using the same login / password as the SSH client).
New: An arrow in the main menu indicates from where you get the Internet.
New: USB Tethering with Android devices should now work (main menu entry 7). As I do not have an Android test device, this point needs to be tested further, and I rely on your feedback. I want to thank everyone who has been in active email correspondence with me on this point over the past weeks.
Improved: The countermeasure against a disconnect when idle feature (entry 10 in the Countermeasure sub-menu)shows now its status and can be deactivated.
Improved: Before Tor is compiled (option 3 in the Update & Reset sub-menu), the current version is checked, compared with the one in the repository, and the user can decide if he wants to aboard before wasting time if no new version is available. Important: Currently, Tor can be updated with option 1 “Update the base system” in the Update & Reset sub-menu (main menu entry 12), and it is not necessary to compile Tor fresh.
Improved: The overall reliability of the update script.
Improved: The overall reliability of the installation script. It is adapted to the new Raspberry Pi OS, and we hope that this is the beginning of a platform-independent use of TorBox .
Improved: Cleaned up the code and outsourced more essential functions into a library. This helps to maintain the code in future releases properly.
Fixed: After shutting down the Bridge Relay, the two ports remained open (at least in some instances).
Fixed: If the Bridge Relay is deactivated and Tor is freshly started, the message appears that the ports are opened to the outside, even if this is not the case.
Fixed: An error in changing the password of the Tor control port broke the enforcing of a new exit node with a new IP (main menu entry 2).
Fixed (post-release): rfkill blocks the Raspberry Pi’s onboard WiFi chip and impossibles to create TorBox’s WiFi (it seems to be newly activated with Raspberry Pi OS) – we set rfkill unblock all in /etc/rc.local and had to rebuild the image again on Sunday, Mai 31, 2020 (we kept the same filenames).
With a TorBox v.0.3.0 (12.01.2020) installation, you can perform the following tasks. This deletes all your custom made configuration, but not alter your bridge relay keys. Nevertheless, we recommend, if possible, to use the new image.
We hope this version pleases you. However, we are dependent on feedback. It’s not just about fixing bugs and improving usability, but also about supporting additional interfaces and hardware in future releases:
What do you like?
What should be improved (and how)?
What would you like to see next? Which features do you request?
All comments and questions are now answered. Thanks for your patience.
The documentation for TorBox v.0.3.0 is now revised, and the rest of the website is adapted to this latest version. Also, additional entries in the FAQ have been added, based on the questions received.
Important: You can safely update TorBox v.0.3.0 (initially with Linux v.4.19.75 and Tor v.0.4.2.5 to Linux v.4.19.97 and Tor v.0.4.2.7) using the first entry “Update the base system” in the “Update and Reset sub-menu” (main menu entry 12). An update is recommended because Tor v.0.4.2.5 shouldn’t be used anymore. We are going to build a new image in the next weeks and TorBox v.0.3.1 is already in the making.
Initially, it was planned to update the TorBox website according to the latest version of the TorBox by the end of April. Primarily the documentation is still focused on the older version. I also intended to add more fixes and even some newer features to the TorBox itself.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself In my professional job under enormous working pressure. So far, I haven’t even had time to answer all the comments and questions on the TorBox website and on GitHub, or the many email messages. Sorry, folks; I’m sure some users are already upset with me.
Since my holidays were canceled at the end of April, all projects related to TorBox — especially checking and fixing possible bugs, as well as updates to the operating system and core components — have been postponed to the end of July or beginning of August. However, if the work situation continues to calm down over the next few days, I’ll start answering the comments on the website and on GitHub as well as the emails addressed to me in the coming weeks.
I’m sorry for this inconvenience and hope to bring the TorBox project back up to date as soon as possible.
In the version dated January 1st, 2020, we had a little error in one of the script-files, which activated not only the obfs4 functionality but also uncommented “BridgeRelay 1” in /etc/tor/torrc. This led to conflict and blocked Tor to function. In a revised version, dated January 12th, 2020, we fixed this (and some other minor) bugs (see changelog below)
How to update from v.0.3.0 (01.01.2020) to v.0.3.0 (12.01.2020)?
Because we also switched curl for wget, the update from the previous version to version 0.3.0 (12.01.2020) cannot be done with the update sub-menu. Please proceed as follow (all settings remain unchanged):
If not already done, go into the countermeasure sub-menu and toggle bridge mode from on to off. This comments out the line “BridgeRelay 1” in /etc/torrc. With the command “less /etc/tor/torrc” in the SSH shell, /etc/tor/torrc can be checked: all lines beginning with “Bridge” must have a # in front.
Type following commands in the SSH shell:
rm -r torbox
mv torbox030-20200112 torbox
New: Added to the “install” folder script and batch files to avoid a “Tor over Tor” situation if TorBox and the Tor Browser are used together. For more information, see here.
Fixed: Obfs4 functionality because it was broken due to a little error in one of the script-files. The bug resulted in uncommenting the line “BridgeRelay 1” in /etc/tor/torrc, which led to conflict and blocked Tor to function.
Fixed: Replaced curl with wget in the update script to avoid an error if the link is redirected to another destination.
• • •
Based on feedback, difficulties with the correct operation of cable-based clients, and the need to offer a greater variety of connection options when connecting to the internet (also for future developments), the main menu of the TorBox was rewritten entirely. We would appreciate feedback so that we can make further improvements and adjustments in the next release (planned for mid-2020).
The idea behind the new main menu is that the user only has to specify where the TorBox gets its internet from. After that, the clients are served via TorBox’s wireless network, and if connected, simultaneously via ethernet cable. Also, other smaller improvements and wishes have been taken into account, which are listed in detail below. These are the corresponding links to download and install the newest version of TorBox (typically, you need only the image file):
Since we also had to update the configuration files, we recommend using the new image rather than updating an existing system. If you need to update your old TorBox, we recommend to replace the old TorBox menu with the new one and then update the configuration files via the update and reset sub-menu entry 6, which overwrites all old configuration files. However, the old files are saved as .bak. For further information, please contact us.
We update the TorBox website over the next weeks. Until then, some information could be outdated and refer to the older version.
New: The main menu is completely rewritten. You only have to specify where the TorBox gets its internet from. By default, it establishes a wireless network, which can be accessed by client devices. If available and connected, client devices are served by ethernet cable.
New: TorBox supports now internet connectivity with the Point-to-Point Protocol (ppp0, for example, for cellular shields/HATs) and/or over USB adapters (usb0).
New: By default TorBox’s wireless network is established by the onboard chip (wlan0). This can be switched with a USB wireless adapter (wlan1) so that TorBox can access external hotspots on the 5 GHz band, which is probably not supported by a cheap low-powered USB wireless adapter.
New: Beginning with this release, we provide to all our files SHA-256 hashes, so that you can verify the integrity of the downloaded files.
Improved: Cleaned up of the code. and outsourced essential functions into a library. This will help to maintain the code in future releases properly.
Improved: Setting and changing the WLAN regulatory domain is now more user-friendly.
Improved: Because we could clean up the main menu, we added an entry to show the Tor log file. Sometimes, especially if you run a bridge relay, Tor needs minutes to start up. Using this menu entry is an easy way to follow the progress on loading.
Fixed: The gpg key for Torproject’s Debian repository is now fetched more reliably (used in the update script), and additional post-update configurations will prevent the breaking of the bridge relay functionality.
Experimental: A new script to install TorBox from scratch on a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian light.
Removed: CABLE MODE– no longer necessary
Your feedback is welcome!!
We hope that this version will please you. However, we are dependent on feedback. It’s not just about fixing bugs and improving usability, but also about supporting additional interfaces and hardware in future releases:
What do you like?
What should be improved (and how)?
What would you like to see next? Which features do you request?
TorBox doesn’t support only internet access and client connections via WiFi (an additional USB WiFi adapter is necessary) or cable, it also supports internet access via a cellular network. Below, we show you how you can upgrade your Raspberry Pi.
Go to the Configuration & Update submenu and choose the menu entry 10 to start the installation and configuration of the support software. Attention: you have to have internet connectivity for that step. In other words: you have to install the support software before you need a cellular connection!
Choose the correct Sixfab Shiel/Hat. According to our recommendation above, it would be the “3G, 4G/LTE Base Shield”.
What is your carrier APN? You find the APN settings of most carriers here.
Does your carrier need username and password? Again, you find this information on most carriers here.
What is your device communication port? If you use the Sixfab Shield with the USB connector (as in our image above), you should choose ttyUSB3.
Do you want to activate auto connect / reconnect service at RPi boot up? We recommend choosing yes.
At the end of the installation script, pressing ENTER reboots the Raspberry Pi. If you want to avoid it, press CTRL-C.
How can I securely route my data stream through the cellular connection? After assembling all the hardware, installing and configuring the support software correctly, choose entry 7 in the main menu to route all your encrypted data through the cellular connection.
We currently have approximately 1,000 bridges, 600 of which support the obfs4 obfuscation protocol. Unfortunately, these numbers have been stagnant for a while. It’s not enough to have many bridges: eventually, all of them could find themselves in block lists. We therefore need a constant trickle of new bridges that aren’t blocked anywhere yet. This is where we need your help. By setting up an obfs4 bridge, you can help censored users connect to the open internet through Tor.
Based on this call we put a bridge relay into the net a week ago, and – if everything works out – we will add a second one. However, that was not enough for us. Mostly during the last few weekends, we’ve implemented a TorBox feature that allows anyone with a public IP address, 24/7 internet connectivity over a long time, and a bandwidth of at least 1 Mbps to configure their bridge relay at the touch of a button and put it on the net. Besides, we have added and improved some other details, so that we can now release the resulting image as TorBox v.0.2.5. Below are the corresponding links (typically, you need only the image file):
Changelog v.0.2.4-rpi4 (08.08.2019) —> v.0.2.5 (24.09.2019) New: This version introduces the support for setting up a bridge relay. Updated : The system is based on Raspbian “Buster” lite with Linux Kernel 4.19.66 and Tor version 0.4.1.5. New: A little message (“TOR is working“) in the right corner of the main menu shows you immediately if you are connected with the Tor network (meaning https://check.torproject.org returns a positive result). Since a missing response does not automatically mean that there is no connection to the Tor network, no error message is displayed. In other words, if this message is missing, there may or may not be a connection problem. New: We use the same method as mentioned above for the final message box after selecting (or changing) a connection (main menu entry 6-11). In case of success, the message starts with “CONGRATULATION !!” otherwise with “HMMM… THAT DOESN’T LOOK GOOD…“. In contrast to the positive message, negative feedback does not necessarily mean that an error has occurred. Since the check does not last more than 5 seconds, Tor may not have been ready yet; the check site may have been down, etc. New: Support for Adafruit’s PiTFT displays (PiTFT 3.5″ resistive touch 320×480, PiTFT 2.8“ capacitive touch 240×320, PiTFT 2.4″, 2.8″ or 3.2″ resistive 240×320, PiTFT 2.2″ no touch 240×320, Braincraft 1.54″ display 240×240). Note: TorBox’s menus and dialog boxes have only been adapted for the PiTFT 3.5 (320×480) or any other display, which displays in textual mode at least 25×80 characters. Improved: Menus and dialog boxes should now work more smoothly on 25×80 textual screens as well as on smartphone and tablet clients. For that reason, we added for some message boxes scroll texts, which are visible with the “scroll down” remark in the title of the message box. Improved: Revised version of the Tor reset functionality in the „Countermeasure & Troubleshooting“ menu. Improved: Cleaning up in the shell scripts (used more variables, combine certain parts into functions, etc.). Updated: Pre-configured Bridges (we also added our bridge relay) Fixed: While adding bridges, TorBox activates/deactivates the new bridges depending on the current bridge modus. Fixed: Some more non-critical bugs and typos in the text files.
The pre-v.0.2.6 release is expected at the end of the year.