Browse Anonymously In Thirty Seconds and Three Easy Steps in Ubuntu

Here’s a quick little how-to guide on setting up Tor and Privoxy in Ubuntu and installing the Torbutton for Firefox add-on to surf anonymously in about 30 seconds.

1. Installation:
First we need Privoxy and Tor, then start the services:
sudo apt-get install privoxy tor && sudo /etc/init.d/privoxy restart && sudo /etc/init.d/tor restart

Then we need to install the Torbutton for Firefox to toggle the proxy on and off in the browser.

2. Configure:
Save the contents of this Configuration File to /etc/privoxy/config, overwriting the entire file.

3. Use:
Startup Firefox, go into the View > Toolbars > Customize menu and add in the Tor button. Click the button to enable anonymous traffic. Tada! You’re anonymous.

  • joey

    Thanks as usual for an interesting post.

    One “issue” remains and that is the headers. When I read my awstats or similar it shows I am browsing using Ubuntu Gutsy plus a bunch of additional info. This still keeps you anonymous but is still some form of identification – especially because a very smaill minority of stats show people browsing with a linux specific system.

    I have tried the User Agent Switcher Firefox plugin, and while it largely works, you open cannot access certain sites, or some key features on the site – like commenting on some blogs.

    Not a big deal but do you have an thoughts or suggestions?

  • Jim Robert

    I’m with joey

  • E

    Often times people using Tor think they are completely safe, but it’s still possible to peel the onion route. Not to mention it doesn’t mean people will not be able to see what you’re doing because the exit node will still be able to. Currently I find the most anonymous way to surf is having a linux Virtual Private Server in Sweden and using dynamic tunneling through SSH.

  • Jim Robert

    lol… can I get a *free* account on your private server in sweden?

  • Wayne

    If someone knows information about me that was specific enough to pin me down based on HTTP headers and browser specifics, and they had access to the logs for website X to be able to do that….

    I would have a very, very big privacy problem since they know my computers’ signature to track me even when I go anonymous.

    On the other hand, I can go through the logs on this site and say “oh here’s someone from City X in the UK, who browses on his Wii with a 720p resolution.”

    I guess it’s hard to say either way, but it’s like the police who can go and haul someone off to jail because they match the description of a perp.

    “It’s you because you wear a grey shirt and black pants.”
    “Anybody could be wearing those clothes.”

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  • aug_aug

    After installing the tor extension and user agent, whenever I search from google toolbar (firefox) I end up at the French or German google sites. I only speak a smattering of Espanol so this is pretty annoying. Any ideas?

  • Wayne

    aug_aug: Try this solution I just cooked up:
    Goto, and right click in the search query text box. From the context menu, select:
    “Add a keyword for this search.”

    Name it: Google
    Set a Keyword: gt

    Press OK after you’ve filled out the box, then type into the address bar “gt type query here” without quotes and hit Enter, should give you english results every time, since it’s emulating going to and typing into that page, instead of sending a generic query via the toolbar.

  • Amin

    Thanks a lot.

  • Wayne

    Here’s another option aug_aug:
    Goto Mycroft
    Look for Google from your country or the generic one called “Google (No country redirect)”
    Install that as a new search engine. Now the search bar should work too.

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  • Josh

    When I tried to overwrite /etc/privoxy/config I get an error message…You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file. Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again.

    Any suggestions?


  • shroudweaver

    tor is freaking slow like dial up don’t waste your time loading this onto your system

  • Wayne

    Josh you need to overwrite that file as root:
    sudo cp ~/Desktop/config /etc/privoxy/config
    (assuming it is saved to the desktop)

  • rebolyte

    I appear to have everything configured as you said here (I’m using your config file), but when I enable Tor, Privoxy gives a “No Such Domain” 404 every time I try to access a page. It just says the domain name couldn’t be resolved. Any ideas? I’m running Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper.

    Thanks for running a great blog.

  • Wayne

    Run this command in a terminal: tail -f /var/log/tor
    Then try to visit a site. The terminal output will give a good indicator of what is causing the problem.

    If the console output doesn’t make sense, post it in here and I’m sure we can find a solution or someone who can solve your problems.

    I’m glad you mentioned that you’re running Dapper – it might have an old version that is no longer compatible with the Tor network and you might need to upgrade Tor to the latest version manually instead of installing from the Dapper repository.


  • rebolyte

    That did the trick. The log said my version wasn’t compatible, and that I should upgrade. I double-checked at, and I’ve successfully become anonymous!

    Thanks so much. Keep up the great work.

  • Johnc

    I am having such a hard time trying to learn Linux. I tried getting this up and running and get:

    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:

    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    tor: Depends: libevent1 (>= 1.3b) but it is not installable
    E: Broken packages

    What gives? Why can’t anything just install smoothly in Linux?

    Thanx in advance

  • antistress
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