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This page is a brief howto for running a Tor client and relay under Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron), 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) and later releases. Please install Tor using the official Tor installation guide and use this page mainly for supplementary information relating to Ubuntu. It is crucial to get everything right with a privacy and security application such as Tor.


Tor or The Onion Router is a toolset used to help anonymize your traffic. From the Tor website:

  • Tor is a toolset for a wide range of organizations and people that want to improve their safety and security on the Internet. Using Tor can help you anonymize web browsing and publishing, instant messaging, IRC, SSH, and other applications that use the TCP protocol. Tor also provides a platform on which software developers can build new applications with built-in anonymity, safety, and privacy features.

This guide is an adaptation of the official Tor installation method. It has been changed to reflect installation methods unique to Ubuntu, but may easily be used as a guide for other Debian based distros.

Installing Tor

Install Tor by issuing the following command or use System --> Administration --> Synaptic Package Manager:

  •  sudo apt-get install tor

If your version of Ubuntu is not the latest, or does not have Tor, you may prefer to install from the Tor project's own repository: see Tor installation documentation for the latest instructions.

Starting Services and Checking Status

sudo /etc/init.d/tor start

Check that the Tor service is running on port 9050:

ss -aln | grep 9050

You should see either or both lines of the following output:

0  0  :::950  :::*
0  0   *:950   *:*

(Potential Issue on 8.04 =

  • Some of you following this will notice that there are no scripts in the /etc/init.d folder. This won't help you, but just lets you know it may not be there. Also attorproject manually installing with their deb package. Same thing. It isn't you.

     sudo /etc/init.d/tor start


You can test if Tor is working by connecting to this web page:

Install Vidalia (Optional)

Vidalia is a controlling Graphical User Interface for Tor. Tor must be installed for Vidalia to work. Once you have installed Tor and Vidalia you can configure client and relay settings through Vidalia. To install, type the following command in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install vidalia

Anonymizing Applications

Here are some common applications people configure for use with Tor on Ubuntu. The Tor FAQ lists more supported applications.

Mozilla Firefox

The Tor project recommends that you download their patched version of Firefox, the Tor Browser Bundle. If you prefer, you can use the Torbutton Firefox extension, but the Tor developers say they can no longer guarantee to keep up with the pace of Firefox development.

Note 1: You will notice that browsing through Tor is slower - this is normal due to the extra hops and encryption required.

Note 2: With older version of Ubuntu and Firefox, it may be necessary to first disable the proxy settings in Firefox's native options menu when using Torbutton; otherwise Torbutton will be unable to disable Tor.

Gaim / Pidgin

  1. Go to the Accounts, select your Account
  2. Select Edit Account
  3. Go to the Advanced Tab
  4. Under Proxy Options select proxy type SOCKS v5
    • Enter for the host
    • Enter 9050 for the port
    • Leave user/pass blank

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird has native SOCKS5 support that can be enabled through the Tools / Options / Advanced / Network & Disc Space Tab. Click on the Connection button and then select Manual Proxy Configuration. Enter the details for your running Tor process:

port: 9050

Thunderbird should now be working. It's best to test it at this point, although bear in mind that it might be leaking DNS information.

Assuming you now have Thunderbird working through Tor, the last step is to ensure that DNS resolves aren't leaking information. Select the Tools / Options / Advanced / General Tab and then click on Config Editor. This will present you with a huge list of all the potential configuration options in Thunderbird. The list can be narrowed by typing proxy into the filter box. Find the option


and make sure it's set to true. If not, double-click it to toggle the setting. That's it, Thunderbird should now be fully configured for use with Tor.


Right-click in the window and select Settings-> Preferences -> Network -> Network setup -> Proxy server

Use the following settings:

Port: 9050
Type: Socks5


If you run IRSSI on GNU Screen, open a new window (C-a C). If not, you'll have to open a new tab or windows to connect to the proxy:

socat TCP4-LISTEN:5000,fork,socksport=9050

On IRSSI, connect to localhost, on port 5000:

/connect localhost 5000

To ignore information leakage (client and time zone) run on IRSSI:

/ignore * CTCPS

BitTorrent clients

File sharing is widely unwanted in the Tor network and exit nodes are configured by default to block file sharing traffic. Tor is not really designed for it and file sharing through Tor excessively wastes everyone's bandwidth (slows down browsing). Finally, using current bittorrent clients over Tor is NOT anonymous!

References and More Information


Tor (last edited 2013-03-16 13:03:31 by rrt)