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Re: Vidalia

Hello, all, from one of the Vidalia developers.

On Jun 1, 2006, at 10:22 AM, Anothony Georgeo wrote:
Vidalia messed up me server settings, and my
comments I had made in the torrc file.

When you use Vidalia to cinfigure Tor (ie. to become a server) Vidalia updates the torrc file it created with this new configuration setting.

This is partially correct. Rather than duplicating Tor's torrc parsing and saving logic in Vidalia, we just let Tor handle it itself by issuing a SAVECONF (see http://tor.eff.org/cvs/tor/doc/control- spec.txt for details) when some settings have changed. Roger touched on this in an earlier post.

Vidalia seems to use these keys as a 'master' config
setting and as a 'backup' for the torrc.  If the torrc
uses the server nic "A" and the reg keys use server
nic "B" Vidalia will use server nic "B".

These registry keys are used for mostly Vidalia-specific things, such as which log messages to display, which lines to display on the bandwidth graph, etc. If you run a Tor server with Vidalia, the registry keys are also used to store the server-specific Tor settings, so that you can change your server's settings even when Tor is stopped. When Tor is started, Vidalia checks to see if any of these server settings were modified while Tor was stopped and, if changes were made, Vidalia tells Tor about the changes and asks Tor to save them to its torrc.

We discovered with TorCP that it confused far too many users when we had to explain why certain settings (settings we learn from Tor) could only be viewed and changed when Tor is running. Again, this is because we leave the torrc parsing logic to Tor and simply use their simple, easy-to-use interface for learning about some of Tor's current settings, and if Tor isn't running, we can't ask it what its settings are.

We have had a feature request for Vidalia to not use the registry to save these settings, but rather just save them in a .ini file or something similar on Windows, so that it's easier for Vidalia to be run off a thumb drive. This seems reasonable and I think we're going to be able to get to this soon.

I am very happy with Vidalia and I like where it is
going; v.0.0.5 looks good.  The creator of Vidalia is
open to suggestions and feature requests.

We are open to good bug reports, too. We understand there are bugs in Vidalia and we have never declared it to be stable, which is why it hasn't even graduated past 0.0.x yet. Sadly, many of the bug reports we've had have been very vague and haven't included sufficient steps or information for us to reproduce, track down, and fix the bugs so some are still outstanding. Plus, the reporters seem to disappear after adding a bug report, or at least not answer our requests for some more information to help track down their bug. So, we'd like to know about any bugs anyone finds by adding them to our bugtracker, but please include sufficient details to reproduce the problem, or at least don't disappear. :)

  IMO Vidalia is a great GUI with alot of
potential and an author who is very motivated.

Thanks! We have mostly been motivated thanks to help, feedback, and constructive criticism from members of the Tor community and some generally nice people who have helped us out. Vidalia is developed by just two people who are still students and both have real jobs and real lives and a really small amount of spare time. Whenever somebody is willing to help us out, we appreciate it! I'm sure the same thing can be said for Roger and Nick and the Tor project itself, so I bet they'd appreciate some help, too.