The Tor network relies completely on volunteers to route the traffic from the origin to the destination.

If you are willing to run an exit node, for peace of mind, I recommend using a VPS such as 1984Hosting [Link] (Iceland) or Njalla [Link] (Sweden) that are known for privacy advocates. See this reference list [Link].


SETTING UP THE TOR NODE

There are 3 main types of nodes:

  • Guard
    • The entry point of the Tor network.
  • Relay
    • Middle node.
  • Exit
    • Exit node to the public internet.

Other types such as Bridges and Snowflakes are additional non-advertised hosts that prevent nations or organizations to block the public listed nodes.

Prepare the server and make sure it will automatically patch any vulnerable application and upgrade itself.

sudo timedatectl set-timezone America/New_York
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades apt-listchanges -y
sudo nano /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades

And uncomment the following lines:

"${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-updates";
Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Kernel-Packages "true";
Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Dependencies "true";
Unattended-Upgrade::Automatic-Reboot "true";
Unattended-Upgrade::Automatic-Reboot-Time "17:00";
Unattended-Upgrade::Automatic-Reboot-WithUsers "true";

Configure the auto-upgrade parameters:

sudo nano /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades

Replace the content of the file with:

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1";
APT::Periodic::AutocleanInterval "5";
APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "1";
APT::Periodic::Verbose "1";

Test for errors.

sudo unattended-upgrades --dry-run
sudo cat /var/log/unattended-upgrades/unattended-upgrades.log

Then, activate the Unattended-Upgrades.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades

Answer YES to allow it to automatically download and install stable updates.


INSTALLING AND CONFIGURING THE NODE

sudo apt install apt-transport-https -y
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following content:

deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg] https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org focal main
deb-src [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg] https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org focal main

Then,

wget -O- https://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org/A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89.asc | gpg --dearmor | tee /usr/share/keyrings/tor-archive-keyring.gpg >/dev/null
apt update && apt upgrade -y
apt install tor deb.torproject.org-keyring -y
sudo nano /etc/tor/torrc

Append or replace the content of the whole file with:

Nickname NodeNick
ORPort 443
ExitRelay 0
SocksPort 0
ControlSocket 0
ContactInfo [email protected]

Note: ExitRelay value 0 can be changed to 1 to become an ExitRelay (not recommended).

sudo systemctl restart [email protected]
sudo ufw enable
sudo ufw allow 443
sudo ufw status

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Takes less than 3 hours for the server to be listed in the directory [Link].

Each node goes through 4 phases in its cycle-life:

  • 1st – 0 to 3 days
    • Unmeasured
  • 2nd – 3 to 8 days
    • Remote Measurement
  • 3rd – 8 to 68 days
    • Ramping Up as a Guard Relay
  • 4th – 68+ days
    • Steady-state Guard Relay

Read more about the node cycle-life at [Link].

It is recommended to backup the Tor Identity Keys:

scp -r [email protected]:/var/lib/tor/keys .

Note: port 22 may be allowed on the firewall before the copy. Remember to block the port after using it or allow it to be accessible only from a trusted source.

Alternatively to a Tor Node, there are also Tor Bridge [Link] and Tor Snowflake [Link]. All types of volunteers are needed to make the Internet free and accessible to everyone.


TRAFFIC MONITORING AND LIMITING

Consider giving some limits to traffic usage in order to prevent overage fees from your ISP (if not unlimited).

Append the following lines to /etc/tor/torrc configuration file:

AccountingStart day 0:00
AccountingMax 50 GBytes
RelayBandwidthRate 25 MBytes
RelayBandwidthBurst 100 MBytes

Note: the speed is in Mega-Bytes, not in Mega-Bits.

Follow the CPU and bandwidth usage for a new node under different configurations:

  • A – Unmeasured (not relaying traffic yet).
  • B – Remote Measurement followed by Ramping Up as a Guard Relay (Relaying traffic progressively).
  • C – A limit of 35GB (each direction) was applied to control the total amount of data used.
  • D – Not only a daily limit but also speed control up to 1.5MByte/s, which resulted in extra CPU usage.

Don’t be surprised if your node consumes 6TB of traffic (inbound + outbound) in less than 3 days:

Monitor traffic in real-time with Tor Nyx [Link].

sudo apt-get install nyx -y
sudo nano /etc/tor/torrc

Append the following lines:

ControlPort 9051
CookieAuthentication 1

Restart Tor and execute Nyx:

sudo systemctl restart [email protected]
nyx

To be able to run Nyx as another user, change the permission of the token file.

sudo chmod 777 /run/tor/control.authcookie

Consider customizing your Nyx console by adding parameters to the file:

nano .nyx/config

Examples can be found at [Link].