HOWTO: Configure Tor + SASL + irc to connect to Freenode

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 8:39 pm | 40,607 views | trackback url
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I fought this problem on the train into the city today, because my MiFi‘s hostname was not correctly reversing to it’s given IP (verified by dig) and Freenode was denying the connection; it looked like this:

Mar 22 06:51:41 *       Looking up
Mar 22 06:51:41 *       Connecting to ( port 6667...
Mar 22 06:51:42 *       Connected. Now logging in...
Mar 22 06:51:42 *       *** Looking up your hostname...
Mar 22 06:51:42 *       *** Checking Ident
Mar 22 06:51:42 *       *** Your forward and reverse DNS do not match, ignoring hostname
Mar 22 06:51:55 *       *** No Ident response
Mar 22 06:51:55 *       *** Notice -- You need to identify via SASL to use this server
Mar 22 06:51:55 *       Closing Link: (SASL access only)
Mar 22 06:51:55 *       Disconnected (Remote host closed socket).
Mar 22 06:52:05 Cycling to next server in Freenode...
Mar 22 06:52:05 *       Disconnected ().

I wanted to connect, to talk to the folks in #linux, and ask them about another question I had (see newer blog post about fullscreen VMware session for that). This was yet another example of the kind of Yak Shaving I deal with on a daily basis.

At first, I tried installing a few identd daemons, then some of the spoofing identd daemons, then purged them all and decided to try identifying using SASL like it suggested.

I did a few seconds of Google’ing and found a helpful website with a SASL plugin in C. I compiled that, installed it into /usr/lib/xchat/plugins, restarted XChat, and attempted to authenticate and identify using this plugin and the instructions.

If the site goes down, I have local copies of the files you need, just email me.

You’ll need to create a file called cap_sasl.conf and put it in ~/.xchat2/, which includes the following syntax:

/sasl [nickname] [password] FreeNode

So if your nickname (username on Freenode) was ‘foobar‘ and your password was “MyS3cretPas5word“, you’d put the following in that file:

/sasl foobar MyS3cretPas5word FreeNode

If you compiled this correctly and put it in the right place, you can also just issue a simple /help sasl command to get the syntax:

Usage: SASL <login> <password> <network>, enable SASL authentication for given network

When you load up XChat, you should see something like this in the main window (if the plugin works):

 Python interface loaded
 Display amarok loaded, type "/disrok help" for a command list
 Perl interface loaded
 Tcl plugin for XChat - Version 1.63 
 Copyright 2002-2005 Daniel P. Stasinski
 Tcl interface loaded
 Loading cap_sasl.conf
 Enabled SASL authentication for FreeNode
 cap_sasl plugin 0.0.4 loaded

The last two lines are what you’re looking for. Now typing “/sasl” will show you the following:

 foobar:MyS3cretPas5word at FreeNode

This too, failed to authenticate me and validate my (incorrect) reverse DNS problem. What I saw was this:

Mar 22 20:24:02 *       Looking up
Mar 22 20:24:05 *       Connecting to ( port 6667...
Mar 22 20:24:05 *       Connected. Now logging in...
Mar 22 20:24:05 *       *** Looking up your hostname...
Mar 22 20:24:05 *       *** Checking Ident
Mar 22 20:24:06 *       *** Couldn't look up your hostname
Mar 22 20:24:19 *       *** No Ident response
Mar 22 20:24:52 *       Closing Link: (Connection timed out)
Mar 22 20:24:52 *       Disconnected (Remote host closed socket).
Mar 22 20:25:02 Cycling to next server in Freenode...

I decided to investigate a different solution: Tor!

Beware, there are a lot of HOWTO documents and blog posts attempting to describe how to get this working, and literally none of them work from beginning to end (including the one on Freenode itself). I had to go through dozens of these, cherry-picking the right information out and testing many different configuration options until I finally got it to work correctly.

Here’s how I did it…

  1. First, remove the plugin you might have built (in the above steps) from /usr/lib/xchat/plugins. Leaving it there will just get in the way of the working solution you’re about to implement.
    $ sudo rm /usr/lib/xchat/plugins/
  2. Install the Tor client on your machine. Since I run Debian and Ubuntu, that was as simple as adding the upstream packge repository URLs to my /etc/apt/sources.list file, update, and install the client.

    If you unlucky enough to have to run a legacy platform like Microsoft Windows, there are instructions on how to do that on the Tor project’s website.

    On Linux, just add the tor repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list file and update.

    deb lucid main
    deb-src lucid main
    $ apt-get update && apt-get install tor

    That will install and start the Tor client on your machine.

  3. Next, you need to tell Tor to map it’s internal address to the public “Onion” host. You can do that by adding the following line to the end of your /etc/tor/torrc file:
    # For Freenode IRC
    mapaddress p4fsi4ockecnea7l.onion
  4. Now you need to stop/start (or restart) your tor client to reload this configuration (you’re looking for the bolded portion below, to make sure it’s working and parsing the configuration change you’ve added):
    $ sudo /etc/init.d/tor restart
    Stopping tor daemon: tor.
    Raising maximum number of filedescriptors (ulimit -n) to 32768.
    Starting tor daemon: tor...
    Mar 22 20:00:57.573 [notice] Tor v0.2.1.30. This is experimental software. Do not rely on it for strong anonymity. (Running on Linux x86_64)
    Mar 22 20:00:57.574 [notice] Initialized libevent version 1.4.13-stable using method epoll. Good.
    Mar 22 20:00:57.574 [notice] Opening Socks listener on

    Now we have Tor installed, configured, with the Freenode Onion host enabled. Next we have to configure our IRC client to point to our Tor proxy and identify with SASL to connect to the Freenode tor host.

  5. Load up XChat, and go to Settings → Preferences
    XChat Settings -> Preferences
  6. Click “Network setup” on the left side, and enter the information shown here. The important part is that you set the information as:
    Hostname: (not localhost)
    Port: 9050
    Proxy type: Socks5
    Use proxy for: IRC Server Only

    XChat Network setup

    Click “Ok” to save this information

  7. Now you need to set up a new “network” in XChat for Freenode. Click on the “XChat” menu in the upper-left of XChat and select “Network List” (or use Ctrl-S). You’ll see a window that looks like the following:

    XChat Freenode Network

  8. I called mine Freenode_Tor here. Remember the name and how you spelled it here, this is important.

  9. Once you have that created, click the “Edit” button on the right-side, and add a new server in that network, using the information here. The server you want to add is ““:

    XChat Freenode Tor server

  10. Click “Close” to save this information.

  11. Now close down XChat and fetch this Perl script from Freenode’s site. In the same directory are several other similar scripts in Perl and Python.

    I tried them all, and this one is the only one that worked for me.

    Save this script somewhere and move it to your ~/.xchat2/ directory and restart XChat. XChat will load up this script automatically. If it does, you’ll see the following output in the status window when you type /sasl:

    Mar 24 16:52:59 Python interface loaded
    Mar 24 16:52:59 Display amarok loaded, type "/disrok help" for a command list
    Mar 24 16:52:59 Perl interface loaded
    Mar 24 16:52:59 Tcl plugin for XChat - Version 1.63 
    Mar 24 16:52:59 Copyright 2002-2005 Daniel P. Stasinski
    Mar 24 16:52:59
    Mar 24 16:52:59 Tcl interface loaded
    Mar 24 16:53:06 SASL [action] [action paramters]
        load        reload SASL information from disk
        save        save the current SASL information to disk
        set         set the SASL information for a particular network
        delete      delete the SASL information for a particular network
        show        display which networks have SASL information set
        mechanisms  display supported mechanisms
        help        show help message
  12. Now you’ll want to configure your authentication, and save it to disk, like this:
    /sasl set Freenode_Tor foobar MyS3cretPas5word PLAIN

    If you did it right, you’ll see this:

    Mar 24 16:57:40 SASL: added freenode_tor: [PLAIN] foobar *
  13. Now type the following to save the auth to disk:
    /sasl save

    If that saved correctly, you’ll see:

    Mar 24 16:58:05 SASL: auth saved to /home/foobar/.xchat2/sasl.auth

    You’re almost done!

  14. Now launch XChat if you haven’t already, and select your “Freenode_Tor” network from the list, and click “Connect” on the lower-right. This will now attempt to connect to “” through your Tor proxy (running on on port 9050), and present the cached SASL auth to when it connects. It will look like this:
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Python interface loaded
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Display amarok loaded, type "/disrok help" for a command list
    Mar 24 17:00:50 SASL: auth loaded from /home/foobar/.xchat2/sasl.auth
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Perl interface loaded
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Tcl plugin for XChat - Version 1.63 
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Copyright 2002-2005 Daniel P. Stasinski
    Mar 24 17:00:50
    Mar 24 17:00:50 Tcl interface loaded
    Mar 24 17:02:33 *       Looking up
    Mar 24 17:02:33 *       Looking up
    Mar 24 17:02:33 *       Connecting to ( port 9050...
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       * Certification info:
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Subject:
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           OU=Domain Control Validated
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           OU=Gandi Standard Wildcard SSL
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           CN=*
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Issuer:
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           C=FR
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           O=GANDI SAS
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *           CN=Gandi Standard SSL CA
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Public key algorithm: rsaEncryption (2048 bits)
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Sign algorithm sha1WithRSAEncryption
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Valid since Jan 14 00:00:00 2011 GMT to Jan 14 23:59:59 2012 GMT
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       * Cipher info:
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *         Version: TLSv1/SSLv3, cipher DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA (256 bits)
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       Connected. Now logging in...
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       *** Looking up your hostname...
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       *** Checking Ident
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       *** Got Ident response
    Mar 24 17:02:47 *       *** Couldn't look up your hostname
    Mar 24 17:02:48 CLICAP: supported by server: identify-msg multi-prefix sasl
    Mar 24 17:02:48 CLICAP: requesting: multi-prefix sasl identify-msg
    Mar 24 17:02:49 CLICAP: now enabled: multi-prefix sasl identify-msg 
    Mar 24 17:02:51 You are now logged in as foobar.
    Mar 24 17:02:53 *       *** Spoofing your IP

    Now you’re connected to Freenode through Tor. You can verify this by issuing the following:

    /whois foobar
    * [foobar] (debian-tor@gateway/tor-sasl/foobar): perldoc -qa.j | perl -lpe '($_)=m("(.*)")'
    * [foobar] :Irvine, CA, USA
    * [foobar] is using a secure connection
    * [foobar] is connecting from *@gateway/tor-sasl/foobar
    * [foobar] idle 00:02:09, signon: Thu Mar 24 17:02:53
    * [foobar] is logged in as foobar
    * [foobar] End of WHOIS list.

Welcome to a more-secure, more-anonymous way to chat with your friends, colleagues and the community.

NOTE: As I type this, I am one of 3 total people on all of Freenode, using Tor, out of 69,725 total users on the network.

* 1095 8451 :Current local users 1095, max 8451
* 69725 71006 :Current global users 69725, max 71006

Last Modified: Sunday, March 6th, 2016 @ 04:20

8 Responses to “HOWTO: Configure Tor + SASL + irc to connect to Freenode”

  1. This tutorial was super helpful. Thank you!

  2. thanx man, it works!!

  3. The latest gentoo builds an xchat without perl support. Make sure your package.use file has net-irc/xchat perl or perl is in your make.conf

  4. this guide is very good, work like a sharm, thank you very much

  5. Thanx bud worked perfectly :-)

  6. when i run /sasl save i get unknown cmd and i dont have it defined as a cmd ??? i cant progress to connect… ?

    Plugin defined commands:


    Type /HELP for more information, or /HELP -l

    Updated SASL settings for network Freenode-tor
    Unknown Command. Try /help
    Usage: /SASL <-set|-unset> [ ]
    Unknown Command. Try /help

  7. Can I just say that you are the absolute best, EVER!?

    Thank you so, so much for this. I can finally enjoy participating on Freenode without feeling as unsafe as I used to. You absolutely, totally rock dude.

    Thanks again!

  8. Thanks! Worked great!

    Quick note: In order to make this work, you must be using a registered nick. At least, that was the problem I was experiencing.

    Thanks again!

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