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Why does tor require administrative access to start, if it binds to a port higher than 1024?

On both linux and windows, administrative access is required.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Tor routes all network traffic through what is similar to a VPN (by creating a network route).

With other solutions like the built-in Windows VPN client, either a service running as SYSTEM or the operating system itself will make the routing changes on your behalf without making you authenticate as an administrator.

Since Tor doesn't use such a service and the operating system doesn't make special allowances for the Tor program, Tor needs to make these changes itself and therefore needs administrative rights.

I mention Windows because what's what I'm most familiar with, but a similar argument applies for Linux, I imagine.

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Actually, it doesn't. Tor just provides a SOCKS proxy interface through which TCP connections can be relayed. – grawity May 14 '10 at 11:22
I don't think that is correct, but even if it were it doesn't make sense. There are many VPN software solutions that don't require root access to work. – Jack May 14 '10 at 12:53
@Jack: It's partially correct; all VPN software I've seen needs to add a new IP route (which does need root/admin access). Tor is not VPN, however. – grawity May 14 '10 at 18:27

Tor does not require administrative access to start. I have it running on my development machine as a limited (non-administrator) user.

I can start it with or without Vidalia, binding to ports larger than 1024, and everything works flawlessly.

I am running on Windows 7.

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