Opened 8 years ago

Closed 8 years ago

#2848 closed defect (wontfix)

Ship TBB-Firefox as a separately downloadable package

Reported by: rransom Owned by: erinn
Priority: Medium Milestone:
Component: Applications/Tor bundles/installation Version:
Severity: Keywords:
Cc: tor@… Actual Points:
Parent ID: #2844 Points:
Reviewer: Sponsor:

Description

I and other Tor users will want to use Tor without Polipo, without using a Tor Browser Bundle. There are several reasons to want to do this:

  • to avoid having to install extensions in and configure a new TBB every time a new version is released;
  • to avoid having to wait for another Tor client to start before running a web browser;
  • to make it easier to browse through a custom Tor compiled from Git.

I'm sure there are other good reasons for this that I haven't thought of.

We need to provide our patched versions of Firefox as separately downloadable binary packages, particularly for Windows (when we start building a patched Firefox on Windows) and MacOS, because building Firefox is much harder on those OSes than on Linux.

Child Tickets

Change History (8)

comment:1 Changed 8 years ago by mikeperry

I think we should take a step back and realize that what you're talking about is a pretty hard-core advanced use case, mostly intended for people who are already compiling and heavily tweaking stuff.

Why can't you just run the TBB firefox with -P to get a fresh profile? What if we just added an command line option on TBB to point it to an alternate Firefox Profile directory somewhere on disk?

Also, if we instead devote the limited resources of Erinn to more awesomer things like Thandy updates, shouldn't your TBB start auto-updating itself in-place and preserving its configs as it does so (if you so choose?) This also seems a better plan.

comment:2 Changed 8 years ago by mikeperry

The above of course being contingent on how hard it is for erin to add a whole additional column of things she is building vs supporting developer-friendly modes of TBB. If it is just a matter of copying some files around after the build process to produce TBB-Firefox as a separate package while also producing the TBB package, then maybe this does make sense.

But otherwise, I think we should try to figure out how to accommodate our hard-core users with less effort from us, and just slightly more tweaks from them.

Right now, I think our software wreaks of us catering to experts expecting them to understand how to tweak things and still keep them secure, rather than focusing on making stuff work for normal people right out of the box with a single click...

comment:3 in reply to:  1 ; Changed 8 years ago by rransom

Replying to mikeperry:

I think we should take a step back and realize that what you're talking about is a pretty hard-core advanced use case, mostly intended for people who are already compiling and heavily tweaking stuff.

Why can't you just run the TBB firefox with -P to get a fresh profile? What if we just added an command line option on TBB to point it to an alternate Firefox Profile directory somewhere on disk?

Also, if we instead devote the limited resources of Erinn to more awesomer things like Thandy updates, shouldn't your TBB start auto-updating itself in-place and preserving its configs as it does so (if you so choose?) This also seems a better plan.

  • We need to build our customized Firefox anyway; putting out a separate Firefox-only tarball for expert users is easy.
  • We should build a separate Firefox-only tarball already anyway, so that we can just dump the Firefox binary into our TBB builds whenever we build a new TBB because Tor changed, rather than wasting time waiting for an unnecessary Firefox rebuild.
  • We need to start building a separate Firefox-only package anyway in order to deploy Thandy.
  • Contrary to popular belief, we still haven't finished designing and implementing Thandy.

comment:4 in reply to:  3 Changed 8 years ago by erinn

Replying to rransom:

  • We need to build our customized Firefox anyway; putting out a separate Firefox-only tarball for expert users is easy.

It's easy but also time-consuming, because custom Firefox builds, while done as part of my normal release process, do not come with any of the extensions beforehand. Each one has different ways of handling extensions, different directories, and I don't think it's as simple as merely distributing the built version that I use as a basis for TBB.

To go into more detail: the Linux bundles require the extensions to be in ~/.mozilla, and OS X ~/Library, so we reset $HOME in the launch script. If we want to ship FF-only packages, does that imply the ability to launch the same way? If not, how do you propose we get the extensions out to people and make sure they get used? There's the possibility to just unzip/untar into the user's home directory, but I am very uncomfortable with that.

There's also the upload time involved -- maybe not a huge issue overall, but right now we're talking about Firefox builds for:

Firefox 4: i386 Linux, x86_64 Linux, i386 OS X, x86_64 OS X, Windows
Firefox 3.6: i386 Linux, x86_64 Linux, i386 OS X, Windows

So that's 9 new packages to upload.

If you assume each of these is somewhere between 9-15mb, and takes between 20 extra minutes to setup correctly, test, make sure any changes are committed, etc, and 7 minutes to upload, that adds 270 minutes to what I'm currently doing. A lot of that is upload time and can be safely non-interactive. All the same, I don't think this is a high (or even medium) priority right now, though perhaps in the future it is a good idea.

  • We should build a separate Firefox-only tarball already anyway, so that we can just dump the Firefox binary into our TBB builds whenever we build a new TBB because Tor changed, rather than wasting time waiting for an unnecessary Firefox rebuild.

I don't understand this. We have to rebuild Firefox for many platforms whenever there is a new Firefox release, but that is the only time it's rebuilt. In which situation is an unnecessary Firefox rebuild happening?

comment:5 Changed 8 years ago by mikeperry

Parent ID: #2844#2880

I think this ticket needs a new parent. It is a potential issue with us shipping only TBB, not about shipping TBB without polipo. I would like to figure out what the root issues for this are instead, but shifting parents because that's one step closer to figuring it out.

comment:6 Changed 8 years ago by mikeperry

Parent ID: #2880#2844

Err, never mind. Wrong ticket.

comment:7 Changed 8 years ago by StrangeCharm

Cc: tor@… added

comment:8 Changed 8 years ago by mikeperry

Resolution: wontfix
Status: newclosed

Not going to devote Tor resources to this. If the community really wants this, the community can build their own packages for it.

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