Orfox vs Tor Browser vs Firefox for Android FAQ

What is Orfox?

In the summer of 2014 (https://lists.mayfirst.org/pipermail/guardian-dev/2014-August/003717.html), we announced that the results of work by Amogh Pradeep (https://github.com/amoghbl1), our 2014 Google Summer of Code student, has proven we could build Firefox for Android with some of the settings and configurations from the Tor Browser desktop software. We called this app Orfox, in homage to Orbot and our current Orweb browser. This was a good first step, but we were doing the build on Mozilla's Firefox code repository, and then retrofitting pieces from Tor Browser's code, which wasn't the right way to do things, honestly.

This summer (2015!) we have switched to building the Orfox mobile app directly from the Tor Browser code repository, successfully working through any mobile OS incompatibilities in the security hardening patches added by the Tor Browser team. We also had the additional task of reviewing the Android application code in Firefox, that is not part of Tor Browser, in order to modify and patch it to work inline with the Tor Browser requirements and design document.

As of today, we have a stable alpha release ready for testing, and are rapidly moving towards a public beta in a few weeks. Our plan is to actively encourage users to move from Orweb to Orfox, and stop active development of Orweb, even removing to from the Google Play Store. If users really want to continue using a WebView-based solution and do not need all of the capabilities that Orfox/Tor Browser provides, they can use Lightning Browser (https://github.com/anthonycr/Lightning-Browser), a lightweight, open-source app that offers automatic Orbot (SOCKS) proxying on start-up.

Where can I find all the relevant Orfox project pieces?

How is Orfox different than Tor Browser for desktop?

Orfox is built from the same source code as Tor Browser (which is built upon Firefox), but with a few minor modifications to the privacy enhancing features to make them compatible with Firefox for Android and the Android operating system. In as many ways as possible, we will adhere to the design goals of Tor Browser (https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser/design/), by supporting as much of their actual code as possible, and extending their work into the additional Android components of Firefox for Android.

How is Orfox different than Firefox for Android?

Beyond the core Tor Browser components, Orfox also must ensure all Android-specific code is properly routed through the Tor proxy, and otherwise hardened to protect against data and privacy leaks.

How is Orfox different than Orweb?