How to forward only .onion or .i2p urls selectively

If you are like me and don’t need to use TOR so much for anonymity as for accessing interesting hidden sites, the overall slow speed of TOR probably bothers you for normal browsing. The need to toggle proxies or start two separate browsers probably bugs you too.

Now I have found .i2p which is similar to TOR in the sense of being an anonymous, decentralized network, but it is not a proxy at all – which means configuring the browser to forward queries via the i2p network means that regular sites won’t work at all!

I need:

  • Normal browsing directly over the internet for regular urls
  • Routing .onion urls to TOR
  • Routing .i2p urls to I2P

I dare say this fix will also work for any other such networks I may not know of.

Before we begin, an extremely important WARNING:

If you use TOR for Anonymity, then this “how to” may compromise your anonymity for the same reasons the TORbutton was discontinued. Mixing normal browsing with TOR may result in leaks of identity or inadvertent access of normal urls which you intend to use over TOR directly – which could be disastrous, particularly if your safety depends on it. YOU ARE WARNED. This “How To” ASSUMES THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ANONYMITY AS A PRIORITY.

There are many people who would simply like to see various sites, or have TOR sites they interact with regularly – like TORMail users, for example. Or people who have set up their own sites or are reading forums or otherwise engaged in activity that they don’t think will be legally problematic.

This guide is for them. And I hope their tribe increases.

Here’s how to see normal urls directly on the internet, while using TOR and I2P for .onion and .i2p sites respectively.

Step 1: Install Privoxy. Privoxy is a transparent proxy that does a lot of other useful things too. Visit their website, read up, and if you like (and want to continue this how to) install privoxy as per instructions for your OS. This assumes that you already have I2P and/or TOR installed – or you can go now and do it, or waste your time reading this post. I use TOR installed from the PPA and not the browser bundle – so that it can run in the background and be used as needed – or stopped independently of the browser if I’m not using TOR. This is important, as I browse all day, and having the browser shut down if I’m not using TOR would be most inconvenient. Wasting bandwidth on TOR unnecessarily is not required either.

Step 2: Configure your browser to use Privoxy – as per instructions given on their site. Basically, this means setting your network proxy to 127.0.0.1:8118 <– this is the port for Privoxy. Note DO NOT add the socks proxy for TOR here. Or the i2p settings.

Step 3: Edit your Privoxy configuration file. On Ubuntu, installing from the PPA it is found at /etc/privoxy/config – your mileage may vary depending on OS and how you installed privoxy, however, it will be found in the root of the folder for privoxy – as a rough guide.

Step 4: At the end of that file, add:

forward-socks5   .onion               127.0.0.1:9050 .
forward   .i2p               127.0.0.1:4444 .

Done.

That is it.

Now, your normal browsing will be unaffected by either TOR or I2P Network, while .onion and .i2p urls will get forwarded correctly and accessible seamlessly.

Enjoy!

NOTE: While this does nothing special to compromise your safety, it may be compromising some protective feature in case someone is trying to find out your identity or something. I have no clue what it does on the safety front, and I highly recommending assuming that this is unsafe till some superior being can verify or suggest better methods.

If, while using this method, you find that you need to use anonymous features of TOR, I highly recommend starting a “TOR Browser Bundle” browser separately. This can be configured to use different ports so as to not interfere with your already installed TOR.

NOTE1: I know I am being repetitive, but I feel I must, seeing as how a lot of people use TOR for activism or other things where getting identity compromised could land them in a lot of trouble.

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