Opened 2 years ago

Last modified 2 years ago

#21306 new defect

Be more helpful in the "cannot connect to tor control" error case

Reported by: arma Owned by: tbb-team
Priority: Medium Milestone:
Component: Applications/Tor Browser Version:
Severity: Normal Keywords:
Cc: brade, mcs, phoul Actual Points:
Parent ID: Points:
Reviewer: Sponsor:

Description

It seems we've had a stream of users for years showing up with "cannot connect to tor control port" errors.

Sometimes it's antivirus issues getting the way, sometimes it's permissions problems from the install, sometimes it's other things.

Can we improve the error message? Plus give users a pointer to some local text that describes what the problem is and what they might do to resolve it?

Child Tickets

Change History (8)

comment:1 Changed 2 years ago by teor

Similarly, the "tor exited on startup" case could do with some work.
It happened to me (my fault for editing the torrc), but there were no log messages and no helpful options except "restart". Which didn't work, of course.

comment:2 in reply to:  1 Changed 2 years ago by gk

Replying to teor:

Similarly, the "tor exited on startup" case could do with some work.
It happened to me (my fault for editing the torrc), but there were no log messages and no helpful options except "restart". Which didn't work, of course.

That's #12501, yes. All in all what this ticket needs is a fix for #10059 first. That is we need a tor patch to get the relevant information to be able to be more helpful.

comment:3 Changed 2 years ago by gk

Parent ID: #10059

comment:4 Changed 2 years ago by mcs

Cc: brade mcs phoul added

As gk said, in many cases it would help if users were shown the messages that tor generated during startup. Unfortunately, if Tor Launcher is not able to connect to the control port due to AV software or if tor exits before Tor Launcher can connect, fixing #10059 may not help. Tor Launcher really needs a way to capture the messages that go to stderr; hopefully that is something we can address when we port Tor Launcher to use the WebExtensions APIs (we will probably need to use https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebExtensions/Native_Messaging, which means we will have the "opportunity" to wrap tor in such a way that stderr output is sent back to Tor Launcher).

In the near term, suggestions for improved error messages are welcome.
Colin, do you happen to have any text for these cases, e.g., text you will someday add to the support portal?

comment:5 Changed 2 years ago by gk

Parent ID: #10059

Actually, #10059 is not the parent of this ticket.

comment:6 Changed 2 years ago by arma

Ok, we have an osx el capitan person in #tor right now who is getting this problem and we have failed to provide useful suggestions because we have no idea what might be going wrong on his system.

And now we have a windows 10 person there too who has the same problem.

I think we need to prioritize some testing on normal user systems, so we can find out what is going wrong for them and fix it.

comment:7 in reply to:  6 Changed 2 years ago by mcs

Replying to arma:

Ok, we have an osx el capitan person in #tor right now who is getting this problem and we have failed to provide useful suggestions because we have no idea what might be going wrong on his system.

Unfortunately I do not have the full #tor backlog so I cannot see what was discussed. For OSX, I would first ask the user to try removing or setting aside their TorBrowser-Data directory (so they can experience a clean start). The most common reason for the "cannot connect to control port" problem on OSX is that the user opened a recent alpha of Tor Browser (e.g., 7.0a1) and then switched back to a stable version (e.g., TB 6.5). Unix domain socket ControlPort config gets left behind in their torrc and TB 6.5 does not know how to connect.

If that does not work, or if they are willing to go deeper, I would ask them to enable Tor Launcher and Torbutton debug logging by adding the following lines to their prefs.js file (the pref changes can be done via about:config instead if they can open Tor Browser enough to get to about:config):

user_pref("extensions.torbutton.loglevel", 0);
user_pref("extensions.torbutton.logmethod", 0);
user_pref("extensions.torlauncher.loglevel", 0);
user_pref("extensions.torlauncher.logmethod", 0);

Then I would have them start Tor Browser from a Terminal window so the browser debug output and the tor output can be captured:

cd TorBrowser.app
./Contents/MacOS/firefox

And now we have a windows 10 person there too who has the same problem.

On Windows, things are harder to debug. As you know, the usual problem is interference from AV or other anti-malware software.

I think we need to prioritize some testing on normal user systems, so we can find out what is going wrong for them and fix it.

Do you mean "The Tor Browser team should do more testing on various systems before they release" or do you mean "The Tor Browser team should help specific users who are experiencing this problem debug it?"

comment:8 in reply to:  6 Changed 2 years ago by gk

Replying to arma:

Ok, we have an osx el capitan person in #tor right now who is getting this problem and we have failed to provide useful suggestions because we have no idea what might be going wrong on his system.

And now we have a windows 10 person there too who has the same problem.

I think we need to prioritize some testing on normal user systems, so we can find out what is going wrong for them and fix it.

FWIW: We actually do testing on normal user systems. I do that manually on Windows and OS X systems before every release and I believe at least recent OS X systems get tested by others as well (even in the sense that they are normal user systems used on a day-by-day basis).

Note: See TracTickets for help on using tickets.