Fight for the Internet 1!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Use Tor in Ubuntu Linux

This post deals with setting up Tor (with Privoxy) and the Tor related GUI TorK on your Linux system.

Frequently Asked Question: What is Tor?
Simply put, it is a program that helps to keep your activities over the Internet more anonymous. It's free to use and damn useful. For a more detailed definition, see here:

Why Use Tor?
There are a lot of reasons. You can be more anonymous when doing things online. For example, when doing something that is.... tenuously legal... this is just another layer of protection. You can also claim your IP is in another country.

The Number #1 thing I use Tor for is whenever I have to do something with proxies. Using Proxies can be a colossal pain because you have to find a good free one, sometimes in a different country, and lets hope that proxy does not have bandwidth limits.

Tor just makes it so damn easy for me. I seriously never have to deal with finding useful Proxy IPs and then swap them in-and-out of my browser. I just let Tor handle all that for me and it is a like a dream.

There is a downside to using Tor: Since your connection's download/upload speeds depend on the Tor-Node you randomly connect to, it can be slow sometimes. (I say slow like only getting 45kbps down for example). But for the sake of anonymity, it is usually worth it and patience is a virtue they say.

Getting the Latest Version of Tor
You should try to have the latest version of Tor is possible.

For details on how to get the latest tor packages for Linux distribution (Debian or Ubuntu), go here:

Install Tor and Privoxy
In a Debian/Ubuntu system, installing Tor is as easy as running the following from command line:

sudo apt-get install tor privoxy

Note, you will need to have the "Universe" apt-repositories enabled if you are running Ubuntu (I believe this is default now). If you get a message about packages not found for Tor, you probably need to enable it and run:

sudo apt-get update

Configuration Setup Tor and Privoxy after Installation
The default Tor configurations work generally well but you MUST enable the listening port for controller programs.

1. Edit the file /etc/tor/torrc with root permissions (using sudo or kdesu or gksu or as the root user). Find the lines for ControlPort. It will look something like this:

## The port on which Tor will listen for local connections from Tor
## controller applications, as documented in control-spec.txt.
#ControlPort 9051

You need to remove the '#' from the beginning of the ControlPort line. NOTE (important): This should not be confused with SocketPort line!

2. Edit the file /etc/privoxy/config with root permissions (using sudo or kdesu or gksu or as the root user). Add this line anywhere in the file:

forward-socks4a / localhost:9050 .

NOTE 1: The trailing space and period after the number must be included.
NOTE 2: These two port numbers must NOT be the same for both Privoxy and Tor

3. Restart the prixovy and tor services. You can do this on the command line with:

sudo invoke-rc.d tor restart
sudo invoke-rc.d privoxy restart

4. Setup TorK. See the section below.

Installing TorK

Tork is a GUI for using Tor+Privoxy. It is very useful. In a Debian/Ubuntu system, installing Tor kis as easy as running the following from command line:

sudo apt-get install tork

Run the program 'tork' from either command, or your applications menus. It should lead you through the rest of the setup. The interface is fairly straightforward and quite useful for running your applications anonymously.

Additional Information
See the Tor homepage:
The Onion Router: