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Solved: Tor (tor.service) doesn’t start on Ubuntu 16, Linux Mint 18. AppArmor?

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I’m including this stuff on my site because I haven’t found good answers out on the Internet. I may need to be reminded of how I did various things, or maybe you’ll do a search that turns it up…in which case I hope it helps. Incidentally, I have published a book on privacy and internet security. If you’d like to leave me a tip, feel free to buy it from one of the links posted on that page. Or download it for free (same page), and then consider buying something else…maybe fiction? If your mind is twirled pleasurably by sf/fantasy/crime/thriller stuff. Regardless, welcome to the site!

Whew. I’m actually a semi-fan of systemctl and systemd and all that. The older /etc/init.d thing was more work to mess with. But holy wow.

This is basically a bug report for the Tor developers, and a workaround for the rest of us. I gave up on talking directly to the Tor people years ago. For all I know they’re much more responsive now, but life is short and I don’t try anymore. The problem lies in their xenial distribution of Tor. Maybe other versions too? Beats me; I didn’t need to check.

The basic issue is that, after you boot, systemctl status tor.service will show that the process exited. Examination of /var/log/syslog will show that AppArmor killed it. I ran into some speculation out there that suggests some future kernel version will fix the problem. But I wouldn’t count on it–I’m already running a (much) more recent kernel. No joy.

I did a couple of things. I tried apt install apparmor-utils, and typed aa-complain system-tor and also aa-complain /usr/bin/tor. So the problem persisted, but the error message (previously “file or directory doesn’t exist”) became identifiable as a file-ownership problem.

Solution: sudo chown debian-tor:debian-tor /var/lib/tor -R

Sheesh. Lots of easily-spotted trouble from a very minor bug. Now, do you need to do the apparmor-utils bit first, to make your system work? If so, do you need both of the commands I gave above? I’m guessing you don’t. But as I said, life is short, I’m not investigating every little thing, and you now know how to do it if you turn out to need it.

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