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Anonymity is no longer an option when you search for web contents with Google smart search. Its predicting feature actually stores what you type in those huge servers that Google owns, this is an extremely privacy invading feature especially for those who have static IP addresses.

In addition when you first subscribe for the so called free email from any of the famous providers (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail....etc) people tend to click on (I accept the license agreement and terms and condition...etc) before reading those conditions which are usually written in small fonts and proceed with the registration. Most of the well known websites also track your browsing behavior/habits (by using tracking cookies) and present advertisements accordingly.

 Nowadays Politics play a big role for 'who accessing what'. For example, there is a program called UltraSurf that is designed specifically for the Chinese to bypass the great firewall of china and have an encrypted connection to make it hard for the Internet service providers to analyze the Internet traffic. However, other people in countries like Sudan and Iran have found the program very useful and use the same program to access free software which are usually blocked (due to U.S export law or in other words sanctions) for citizens in these countries. The only drawbacks for this software is that it runs only in Windows machines and it connects directly to only one proxy server.

Tor (the onion router) according to their website 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. It protects your identity by moving your communications through a network of relays which is run by volunteers from all around the world. It prevents others from knowing websites you visit (by commonly using network sniffers) and prevents the websites you visit from knowing your physical location (country, city, ISP) as you will be assigned to an IP address which automatically changes every 10 minutes or by clicking the browser Tor button.

In this tutorial I will explain how to install Tor in Ubuntu 11.10, but before that we need to define the following terms first:

1- Proxy server: Is a server that is placed between the user PC and the Internet. It receives request from a user/users and passes them to the destination server and then receives a reply/replies from the destination server and passes them to the user/users PC. (e.g. privoxy which has advanced filtering technique and more features than normal proxy like, removing advertisements and junk and it modifies http headers for increased level of anonymity).

2- Cashing proxy server: Is a proxy server that stores the repeatedly requested web pages locally for a faster response. It typically retrieves the web pages from the local cash if found. Otherwise it acts like a normal proxy server. (e.g. Polipo)

3- Node: a server in the connected Tor network.

4- Exit node: The server that send and receive directly from the destination server.

5- Bridge: A server that connects you to the tor network if Tor connections are blocked.

6- relay: Could refer to any of the following middle node, exit node and bridge.

I am going to install Tor in twice. The first is by downloading Tor browser bundle. The second is through the command line as Tor does not allow installing Tor button anymore and that is because they can not keep up with the accelerated releases of Firefox. So the purpose of the command line installation is to mask the TCP connections.

At first download Tor browser bundle point your browser to ( https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en). Then download the bundle that matches your system. Extract files and double click on start-tor-browser. A new user interface for Tor called Vidalia will come up and in few seconds later Firefox will be launched automatically with a message saying Congratulation. Your browser is configured to use Tor. Below this massage your current masked IP address will be displayed. Now you can start browsing the Internet with a degree of anonymity.

Secondly download and install Tor and Polipo through the command line. To do this we need to edit the source list by typing the following commands in the terminal:

$sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Then add the following line to the end of the file
deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org   natty main

Again add the following lines to the end of the file:
##gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv 886DDD89

##gpg --export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -

Afterwards install Tor, Polipo, Privoxy by typing the following two commands:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb


$ sudo apt-get install privoxy

Now you need to configure Polipo. The configured file could be downloaded from (http://dangertux.wordpress.com/tutorials/tor-polipo-5-minute-install-guide-ubuntu-11-0411-10/) and copy all the lines and paste and replace them with the lines in:

$gksudo gedit /etc/polipo/config

 To have the most anonymous state and the fastest web browsing experience run the programs in the following order:
1- run Vidalia by clicking as explained above.
2- run Privoxy by typing the following command:

$sudo /etc/init.d/privoxy start

3-run Polipo by typing the following command

$ sudo service polipo restart

Then start browsing and enjoy.

In order to use tor with other TCP programs type torify then followed by the name of the program like in the example below:

$ torify thunderbird

Please do not use this command with any torrent client as you will slow down the experience for other users (remember it is just a voluntary service)

 Sometimes there are those web pages that are exclusive to users from particular country/countries. However, Tor can solve this problem by specifying an exit node. To do that run Vidalia and click on view the network. In our example let us assume that the web page is exclusive to users in the United Sates. Pick two or more nodes that are in the United States and write down their names. Click on settings then click the advance tab and enter the following lines:
ExitNodes server1, server2, server3
StrictExitNodes 1

Replace server1, server2, server3 with the names of the servers. Then go to System settings>network>network proxy and choose the method to manual then type for IP address and ports 8118for all except socks the port should be 9050 and click on apply system wide. Or alternatively go to Firefox Preferences>advance>Setting and click on manual proxy configuration and enter for IP address and 8118 for port. Restart Vidalia and then you will be able to access those exclusive web pages. Please do not abuse the service by streaming video contents from websites like hulu if you want this wonderful free software project to continue.


Author Profile

My name is Amin Salim and I am Sudanese born in Kuwait. I hold a degree in Information Systems (BSC) from the University of Leeds. I have worked as a research assistant for a local expertise and consultancy firm called (SUDEXAM). Then I travelled to Sierra Leone and worked for the project development unit as an Information Systems engineer. My role was doing the financial analysis and the whole editing for the feasibility studies and providing technical support. I am flexible, and a good team player as realized from conducting feasibility studies with people from different backgrounds and qualifications. Afterwards I came back to Sudan and worked as self-employed software engineer and have developed a system by myself from scratch for a charity eye-hospital. The system functionality was to keep track of stock and sales (written in Java). I am very versatile individual as proven from working on different disciplines and always looking to improve my skills.

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