Want Your Privacy Back? Install and Run Tor in Ubuntu

Have you ever felt that you are being watched in whatever you do online? Websites seem to know who you are and can greet you with your name when you visit them. Google always seems to know what you are searching, even before you started the search. Getting scared? Perhaps it’s time to turn your privacy filter on.

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

What Tor does is to bounce your web communication around a distributed network of relays so that no one will know where you are from. By using Tor, it prevents anyone to learn what sites you have visited, and also sites to find out where you are from. (Note: For more information on how Tor works, check out its overview page for detailed explanation.)

In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Tor in Ubuntu and how to get it running in your browsers.

Note: Windows and Mac users can also download Tor from the download page.

Installing Tor in Ubuntu

Add the deb file to your sources.list. Remember to change [YOUR_DISTRO_VERSION] to your current distro version.

Add the gpg key used to sign the packages:

Install Tor

Download the polipo configuration file to your home folder (Right click on the link and select Save link as…).

Backup the existing Polipo configuration file and move the new configuration file to the Polipo directory.

Restart Polipo

Enable Tor in Firefox

Install Torbutton extension for Firefox.

After you have restarted your Firefox, you will see a “Tor Disabled” icon on the status bar.


Click on it to enable Tor.


You can go to the Preferences page and click on Test settings to see if Tor is working.



Alternatively, go to https://check.torproject.org/. It will inform you if you are running Tor.


Configuring Google Chrome to use Tor

In Google Chrome, click on the Wrench icon and go to the Options page.

Go to “Under the Hood” tab and click the Change proxy settings button.


Change the proxy setting to “Manual proxy configuration”. Enter the following in the HTTP proxy, Secure HTTP proxy and Socks host field.


Click Close.

Similarly, go to https://check.torproject.org/ and you will be able to see if Tor is running successfully on your Google Chrome.

What Tor does not do

While it is easy to install Tor and get it running on your computer, it is also good to understand its disadvantages and what it does not do that might affect your browsing experience.

  • Using Tor will slow down your browsing speed.
  • Using Torbutton for Firefox will block browser plugins such as Java, Flash, ActiveX, RealPlayer, Quicktime, Adobe’s PDF plugin, and others as they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address.
  • Tor might delete your cookies that they deem dangerous. You might want to use CookieCuller Firefox addon to protect any cookies you don’t want to lose.
  • Tor is not 100% safe. It only encrypts the traffic within the Tor network. Any traffic outside of the Tor network is still unencrypted.

Do you think Tor is a good way to protect your privacy? What other ways do you use to protect your online presence?

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. Check out RhinoSEO.com. They let you put in 50,000 emails and send an unlimited number of emails. It also does lead tracking, and analysis so you can automatically collect, and group lead types in email lists.

    They also do complete visitor tracking so you can see what you email visits do after they click on the link and compare your site to other competitors.

  2. Tor also slows your internet down due to the amount of hops it can use. and is known associate of the Child porn ring so it is closely monitored.

  3. “is known associate of the Child porn ring”


    I think you got me with that one.

  4. Although Tor is closely monitored usually all that can be revealed is the IP of the exit node – the fact you are using Tor will be known but NOT the contents of what you are doing in Tor.

    It is also used my Chinese dissidents or other countries where the internet is censored (Austrialians will be needing Tor soon if they want to use the internet properly..)

    An alternative is Freenet – this is very secure but you can't view the normal internet using it.

  5. According to your logic …..

    'The Internet ' is known associate of the Child porn ring so it is closely monitored.

    The difference with Tor you have much more privacy.

  6. simple when you have tor enabled look for onion links or hidden wiki hardcandy. from what i have read elsewhere people use tor to view childporn?

    i had no ideas about china being cencord, but if i can help it we dont want censorship in aus no no no no no this is really bad

    1. oh stop spreading that crap. this is the reason TOR getting a bad name. bloody amateurs talking nonsense. there’s a wealth of info on TOR. stop thinking people are only looking for  the illegal stuff. 98% who use it do not look for that CP crap

  7. The child porn ring is available in the Web, with or without the existence of Tor. To rid yourself of all the “porn” stuff, it is best not to get yourself online.

  8. This may be very basic to many of you, but I don't know how to : “Add the deb file to your sources.list. Remember to change [YOUR_DISTRO_VERSION] to your current distro version.”

    I was able to locate the “sources.list” file in the etc file in Ubunto. when I was searching but when I clicked upon it I had a blank. No file came up. I need help with this fundamental issue to start with.

  9. Open a terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal).

    Assuming you are using Ubuntu Lucid, copy and paste the following code:

    sudo sh -c 'echo “deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main” >> /etc/apt/sources.list'

    to the terminal and press Enter. It will automatically add the deb file to your sources.list.

    btw, the sources.list file is located in the /etc/apt folder.

  10. Damn, how did the conversation go south so quickly? According to your logic, I should not go out side and use the public roads because there might be a drunk driver on them possibly.

  11. Thank you Damien. I am going to switch to Ubunto OS now and see if I can address this issue.

  12. This is what I get when I try to install Tor:
    administrator@ubunto:~$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb polipo

    E: Malformed line 49 in source list /etc/apt/sources.list (dist parse)
    I also have determined I am using 10.4 Karmic according to the to site: http://www.torproject.org/docs/debian.html.en near the first paragraph. “Do not use the packages in Ubuntu's universe. They are unmaintained and out of date. That means you'll be missing stability and security fixes.

    You'll need to set up our package repository before you can fetch Tor. First, you need to figure out the name of your distribution. If you're using Ubuntu 9.10 or 10.04, it's “karmic”, while 9.04 is “jaunty”, 8.10 is “intrepid”, and 8.04 is “hardy”. If you're using Debian Etch, it's “etch”, and Debian Lenny is “lenny”. Then add this line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file: “

  13. I've used Tor for years and this is the first time I've heard of this. I do know what Tor was developed for. It was not to view child porn.

  14. Hello, i was wondering how to “Backup the existing Polipo configuration file and move the new configuration file to the Polipo directory.”

    this may seem simple but hench, i am simple!

  15. I am assuming you are using Ubuntu.

    Go to Applications -> Accessories -> terminal.

    Copy and paste the following command, line by line:

    sudo mv /etc/polipo/config /etc/polipo/config.bak
    sudo mv ~/polipo.conf /etc/polipo/config

    That's it.

  16. It doesn't work; what i get back is

    mv: cannot stat `/etc/polipo/config': No such file or directory

    even after i saved it in the home folder

  17. You might want to reinstall the polipo package again:
    sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb polipo

    After that, use the command:

    sudo mv ~/polipo.conf /etc/polipo/config

    and see if it works.

  18. Thank you! Torproject.org should really link to this page. Your instructions are very clear and complete! Following their instructions, I wasn't able to get very far.

  19. Child porn is a buzzword used to support censorship, as is ‘lege majesty’ in Thailand. Problem is that people making money out of porn can afford to pay developers and IT specialists to help them out setting up secure networks – what’s wrong with making these tools available to other people? These arguments mean that only the ignorant masses should be censored…

    BTW- after putting in the repo and doing an update I got this:

    W:Failed to fetch http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org/dists/maverick/main/binary-i386/Packages.gz 404 Not Found [IP: 80]
    , E:Some index files failed to download, they have been ignored, or old ones used instead.


  20. The instructions worked fine until I got to “Restart Polipo”, which gave the following:

    $ sudo /etc/init.d/polipo restart
    Restarting polipo: /etc/polipo/config:1: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:2: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:3: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:4: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:5: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:6: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:7: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:8: parse error.
    /etc/polipo/config:9: parse error.

    I went ahead and installed the firefox plugin but could not enable Tor. It seems that Polipo is not working with the provided config file.

    I’m running Linux Mint 9 (lucid) with polipo

    1. Problem fixed: use polipo configuration file provided on Tor project page instead


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