Introduction

Tor Browser protects your privacy while you are surfing the Internet: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

Tor Browser is based on Firefox and will be familiar to many users.

To keep your protection strong you need to update the Tor Browser regularly. In Debian the easier way to do that is to install Tor Browser using torbrowser-launcher, which automatically installs Tor Browser, run it, and update it to keep its protection strong and protect your privacy.

The advantage of using torbrowser-launcher over the manual installation of the TorBrowser package (called Tor Browser Bundle) is threefold:

Common misconceptions

Tor is illegal to use

While in some extremely authoritarian countries, Tor may carry legal risk, it's generally fine. Through United States and most of Europe, the very worst you can expect is to be potentially put on a watchlist. Your ISP is unable to see what you're doing over Tor, but they can see that you're using Tor.

If your government or ISP attempts to block Tor, many mirror sites offer downloads of the browser bundle, and you may consider setting up apt-transport-https to securely download it from the repositories. Tor bridges are also available in case connection to the network itself is censored.

The deep web/dark web are dangerous to browse, and can expose you to hackers and malware

Though the terms are often used as synonyms, typically, the "deep web" refers to any website not indexed by search engines such as Google, and the "dark web" refers to websites that require a service such as Tor to view.

In both cases, neither are inherently dangerous. They carry the same risk as almost any small website, and require a vulnerability in your web browser to serve malware. As long as you update regularly, there's generally little risk.

Tor is only used for illegal purposes

Don't confuse illegal with immoral. While Tor is used for plenty of terrible reasons as well, journalists, free speech activists, and whistleblowers all make use of Tor in order to do important work for the common good. Citizens of oppressive countries also make use of Tor in order to access important information that otherwise is restricted.

There are numerous legal reasons to use Tor as well, such as communicating with people across authoritarian borders, or accessing legal content that you nonetheless want to keep hidden from your ISP for whatever reason.

It's too slow to stream/torrent over

Tor's speed comes from how many resources are provided by generous people. Also, Tor is not for torrenting. Torrenting over Tor not only leaks your IP address, but it also slows the network for everyone else.

I'll get arrested or get into trouble with my ISP or someone else for running Tor

You will only need to worry about this if you are running a Tor exit node. There are also some excellent resources created by the Tor staff; give them a read:

You may also be interested in the Tor Metrics pages which will show you how common the use of Tor is in your country:

Source: https://wiki.installgentoo.com/index.php/Tor

Install from website

Tarballs containing the latest stable version of the Tor Browser Bundle can be found on the official Tor Browser website, they contain a .desktop file that'll run the browser in-place. This can be run just by double-clicking it in most file managers. GNOME will require you to run the file from the terminal instead.

After being run, it will also auto-update in place as new versions are released.

Install from official repository

Debian "Sid"

Users of Debian Sid (Unstable) can install torbrowser-launcher easily:

  1. Using Terminal as Root execute the following command
    apt install torbrowser-launcher

Debian 10 "Buster"

Steps to install Tor Browser on Debian 10 "Buster" with Backports

  1. If not already done add the Backport repository to your sources.list.

    printf "deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-backports main contrib" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/buster-backports.list
    apt update
  2. Using Terminal as Root execute the following command
    apt install torbrowser-launcher -t buster-backports
  3. To open Tor Browser choose one of the following two options
    • Option 1: Using GNOME, open the Activities Search. Simply type in Tor Browser

    • Option 2: Using Terminal as user run the following command

    torbrowser-launcher
  4. The first time you open Tor Browser the new version will automatically be downloaded and installed. On every subsequent open a check for updates will be done, and Tor Browser will automatically be updated to the latest available version from the Backport repository.

Debian 9 "Stretch"

Steps to install Tor Browser on Debian 9 "Stretch" with Backport

  1. If not already done add the Backport repository to your sources.list.

    printf "deb http://deb.debian.org/debian stretch-backports main contrib\n" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/stretch-backports.list
    printf "deb http://deb.debian.org/debian stretch-backports-sloppy main contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/stretch-backports.list
    apt update
  2. Using Terminal as Root execute the following command
    apt install torbrowser-launcher -t stretch-backports-sloppy
  3. To open Tor Browser choose one of the following two options
    • Option 1: Using GNOME, open the Activities Search. Simply type in Tor Browser

    • Option 2: Using Terminal as user run the following command

    torbrowser-launcher
  4. The first time you open Tor Browser the new version will automatically be downloaded and installed. On every subsequent open a check for updates will be done, and Tor Browser will automatically be updated to the latest available version from the Backport repository.

Debian 7 / 8 / "Wheezy" / "Jessie"

torbrowser-launcher in wheezy-backports / jessie-backports is currently outdated.

<!> To keep your computer secure it is suggested to upgrade to Debian 10 "Buster" at your earliest convenience.

Update

To update choose one of the following two options. If unsure, the "automatic update" option is easier and recommended.

Automatic update

Tor Browser will automatically prompt you to update the software once a new version has been released. The Torbutton icon will display a small yellow triangle. When you are prompted to update Tor Browser:

  1. Click on the Torbutton icon
  2. Select “Check for Tor Browser Update” option. If needed see those screenshots to clarify the location.

  3. When Tor Browser has finished checking for updates, click on the “Update” button.
  4. Wait for the update to download and install, then restart Tor Browser. You will now be running the latest version.

Alternatively, if you installed Tor Browser using the torbrowser-launcher package. Simply close all Tor Browser windows. Then re-open Tor Browser. It will automatically check if a new version is available. Follow the instructions on your screen.

Manual update

Before manually updating Tor Browser it is suggested to periodically backup any valuable data. Such as your bookmarks. Which you could import after the manual update.

Manually update Tor Browser

  1. When you are prompted to update Tor Browser, finish the browsing session and close the program.
  2. Remove Tor Browser from your system by deleting the folder that contains it. If needed see that Uninstalling section for more information.

  3. Visit https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en and download a copy of the latest Tor Browser release, then install it as before.

Advanced Tor Usage

Torrc File Location

If you installed "torbrowser-launcher" on a 64 bit system, the "torrc" advanced configuration file is located at:

If you installed "torbrowser-launcher" on a i686 bit system, the "torrc" advanced configuration file is located at:

Related documentation

AppArmor confinement and Xserver isolation

HolgerLevsen has written some scripts which are available in /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples/ if you have installed the package.

These scripts show how to run torbrowser-launcher (and thus torbrowser), confined with AppArmor, in Xephyr (a virtual Xserver running on another Xserver) as another user. This, using AppArmor and Xephyr, shall have two effects:

In order to use these scripts, please refer to /usr/share/doc/torbrowser-launcher/examples/.

You can also read those scripts here if interested: https://anonscm.debian.org/git/pkg-privacy/packages/torbrowser-launcher.git/tree/debian/examples?h=debian/sid

Bugs and known issues

See also

References


CategorySoftware | CategoryNetworkApplication | CategoryWebBrowser