How to Access Geo-Restricted Websites on Ubuntu Using Lantern

So your friend in the United States told you about Pandora, and the service immediately caught your fAndy. You tried accessing it from your location (say India) but got an error saying that Pandora isn’t available in your region. I am sure this situation happends often.

Frankly speaking, it’s the end of the road for most users who aren’t tech savvy. For the well-informed, however, web proxies and VPN services are the available options, but rarely do people put in so much effort to access a single service, except of course if it’s something urgent.

What if you could just install a software that automatically bypasses geo-restrictions while you go about surfing the Internet the same way you do now? Sounds interesting, right? In this article we will discuss a tool, Lantern, that does this for you.

So, what exactly is Lantern? It’s an Internet proxy tool that lets you access blocked sites. Developed by Brave New Software Project, the application is free as well as open source, and according to the company, it “delivers fast, reliable and secure access to the open Internet.

As for how the tools works, the official website explains: “Lantern automatically detects whether or not a site is blocked and then accesses the blocked site either through our own servers or through Lantern users running as access points in the uncensored world. If a site is unblocked, Lantern gets out of the way, and your browser accesses it directly to give you the fastest possible access.

You can download the installation package from Lantern’s official website. It’s worth mentioning that Lantern supports multiple OS platforms – including Windows, Linux, and Android – but this article will focus on how to get the application up and running on Ubuntu.

There’s only a single “Download Desktop” option on Lantern’s website, and clicking on it triggers the download of your OS-specific package. For example, in the case of Ubuntu, a .deb package will be downloaded which can be easily installed by double-clicking on the downloaded package file. Once the installation part is over, you can launch Lantern either through the Unity Dash


Or via the command line by running the following command:


When Lantern is launched, you won’t see any GUI related to the application. Instead, the tool’s icon quietly appears in the top panel – the leftmost icon in the image below.


The following web page opens in your default web browser, saying, “Welcome to Lantern! You can now access blocked sites and content,” signalling that the tool is ready.


If for some reason the above web page doesn’t open, you can click the “Show Lantern” option in the tool’s drop-down menu to trigger that page to open.


Now, to test the tool, I first disabled it (by clicking the “Quick Lantern” option from the drop-down menu) and tried opening Pandora. As expected, I got an error that said the service is not available outside of the US, Australia, and New Zealand.


After that, I launched the tool again, and then tried opening Pandora’s website. Voila, I was able to access it this time.


Here’s some useful information about Lantern:

  • Lantern doesn’t rely on a single technique to do what it does. Instead, it uses a variety of approaches (like centralized and sophisticated peer-to-peer architectures), falling back on other techniques if any of them prove to be ineffective.
  • The tool encrypts all your traffic when you use it to access a blocked website. “Lantern users acting as access points can see the website you’re accessing and where you’re accessing it from, but the actual content you are reading from or posting to that site is not visible to them because it is encrypted over HTTPS,” the official website says.
  • Lantern doesn’t give you any kind of anonymity online. If remaining anonymous is your primary concern, use the Tor Project.

Lantern delivers what it promises – quick access to the blocked Internet. It’s easy to download/install, and there aren’t any features at all (let alone complex ones) that you need to understand before using it – just switch it on and you are good to go. Needless to say, it’s worth trying out.

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