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Open Observatory of Network Interference Backend

Project Description

oonibackend: backend infrastructure for ooniprobe

oonibackend is used by ooniprobe to discover the addresses of test helpers (via the bouncer) to submit reports to (via the collector) and to perform some measurements that require a backend system to talk to (via test helpers).

If you are interested in supporting the OONI project by running this backend infrastructure follow this guide and then inform OONI developers of the address of your collector and test helper by sending an email to

Dependencies and Installation

Distro dependencies (Debian)

There are a few dependencies which we recommend you get from your distribution’s archives:

sudo apt-get install build-essential python-dev python-setuptools openssl libsqlite3-dev libffi-dev


You will need a Tor binary on your system. For complete instructions, see also:

If you’ve already got Tor, or plan to compile it yourself from source, great! You can skip this step. Otherwise, if you’re installing Tor (or reinstalling), you’ll want to make sure to get our keyring package in Debian:

echo "deb wheezy main" | \
    sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list
gpg --keyserver --recv EE8CBC9E886DDD89
gpg --export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb

Pip (>=1.3.0)

We recommend using the Pip>=1.3.0 because it included several important security and privacy related patches:

  • It forces the use of HTTPS for [PyPI](
  • and checks package hash sums before installation, with support for hashes more collision-resistant than MD5.

The least painful way (that we know of) to install a newer Pip is to use Pip’s get-pip script:

# Grab the get-pip installer to make sure we have pip>=1.3.0
curl -O
sudo python ./  ## pip (>=1.3.0) is recommended for security reasons
# And make sure we're actually using the newer one:
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/pip pip /usr/local/bin/pip 0


We recommend that you use a python virtualenv. The recommended commands for setting up this up and installing are:

sudo pip install --upgrade virtualenv virtualenvwrapper
# Setup the virtualenv directory:
export WORKON_HOME=~/.virtualenvs && mkdir -p $WORKON_HOME
source /usr/local/bin/
# Clone ooni-backend:
git clone && cd ooni-backend
# Create the virtualenv for ooni-backend...
mkvirtualenv -a $PWD --unzip-setuptools --setuptools --no-site-packages oonib
# ...and install ooni-backend (sudo is not necessary since we're in a virtualenv):
pip install -r requirements.txt --use-mirrors
# Note: it is important that you install the requirements before you run
# the script. If you fail to do so they will be downloaded over
# plaintext.
python install

Running an OONI collector

Configure oonib

Copy the example config file to oonib.conf:

cp oonib.conf.example oonib.conf

Then edit your configuration to fit your needs. The fields you should probably end up changing are report_dir (the public web server directory where you would like ooni-probe clients to be able to submit reports to, for example, if the clients should submit POSTs to https://abcdef0123456789.onion/report then this would simply be 'report') and tor_datadir (where you would like the spawned Tor process to keep its data). If you compiled Tor yourself, you’ll likely want to specify it for the tor_binary option.

Generate self signed certs for OONIB

If you want to use the HTTPS test helper, you will need to create a certificate:

openssl genrsa -des3 -out private.key 4096
openssl req -new -key private.key -out server.csr
cp private.key
# Remove passphrase from key
openssl rsa -in -out private.key
openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey private.key -out certificate.crt
rm server.csr

If you decide to put your certificate and key somewhere else, don’t forget to update oonib.conf options `helpers.ssl.private_key` and `helpers.ssl.certificate` !

Redirect low ports with iptables

The following iptables commands will map connections on low ports to those bound by oonib:

# Map port 80 to config.helpers['http-return-json-headers'].port  (default: 57001)
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 57001
# Map port 443 to config.helpers.ssl.port  (default: 57006)
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp --dport 443 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 57006
# Map port 53 udp to config.helpers.dns.udp_port (default: 57004)
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -m udp --dport 53 -j REDIRECT --tor-ports
# Map port 53 tcp to config.helpers.dns.tcp_port (default: 57005)
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp --dport 53 -j REDIRECT --tor-ports

(For Experts Only) Tor2webmode

WARNING: provides no anonymity! Use only if you know what you are doing! Tor2webmode will improve the performance of the collector Hidden Service by discarding server-side anonymity.

You will need to build Tor from source. At the time of writing, the latest stable Tor is tor- You should use the most recent stable Tor.


git clone
git checkout tor-
git verify-tag -v tor-

You should see:

object 17c24b3118224d6536c41fa4e1493a831fb29f0a
type commit
tag tor-
tagger Roger Dingledine <> 1353399116 -0500

gpg: Signature made Tue 20 Nov 2012 08:11:59 UTC
gpg:                using RSA key C218525819F78451
gpg: Good signature from "Roger Dingledine <>"
gpg:                 aka "Roger Dingledine <>"
gpg:                 aka "Roger Dingledine <>"

It is always good idea to verify:

$ gpg --recv-keys C218525819F78451
$ gpg --fingerprint C218525819F78451
pub   4096R/C218525819F78451 2010-05-07
      Key fingerprint = F65C E37F 04BA 5B36 0AE6  EE17 C218 5258 19F7 8451
      uid               [  full  ] Roger Dingledine <>
      uid               [  full  ] Roger Dingledine <>
      uid               [  full  ] Roger Dingledine <>
      sub   4096R/690234AC0DCC0FE1 2013-05-09 [expires: 2014-05-09]

Build Tor with enable-tor2web-mode:

./ ; ./configure --enable-tor2web-mode ; make

Copy the tor binary from src/or/tor somewhere and set the corresponding options in oonib.conf.

To launch oonib on system boot

To launch oonib on startup, you may want to use supervisord ( The following supervisord config will use the virtual environment in /home/ooni/venv_oonib and start oonib on boot:

command=/home/ooni/venv_oonib/bin/python /home/ooni/ooni-probe/bin/oonib

Testing with vagrant

To test the deployment of oonib you may use [vagrant](

Once installed you will be able to install oonib in the virtual machine via:

vagrant up


1.1.1 (Wed, 3 Sep 2014)

1.1.0 (Tue, 2 Sep 2014)

  • Make changes to the bouncer API to make it aware of the policy of collectors.
  • Improve the bouncer API to make it more RESTful.
  • Add test helper that can be used to discover the DNS resolver being used by the probe.
  • Code coverage and unittesting improvements.
  • Fix compatibility with latest txtorcon versions.

1.0.2 (Wed, 21 May 2014)

Various code improvements and fixes following the Least Authority release engineering work.

1.0.0 (Wed, 26 Mar 2014)

First public release of oonibackend

  • Implements collector for receiver reports.
  • Implements HTTPReturnJSONHeaders HTTP helper
  • Implement DNS resolver helper
  • Implements TCP echo helper
  • Implements bouncer for directing directing probes to an adequate collector and test helper.

Release History

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