How to Install and Use Tor Browser in Linux

If you are a Linux user, especially one on a Debian-based or Ubuntu-based operating system environment, then the legend of the Tor browser has certainly crossed your mind from time to time.

Maybe you have thought of it and its power of anonymity but never got to implement it. Reason? You never fully conceptualized how to install and use this powerful Tor browser application correctly.

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This article is here to help you get rid of any doubts regarding the installation and usage of the Tor Browser on your Linux operating system environment.

What is a Tor Browser?

If you are familiar with the Firefox web browser, then the Tor browser is its customized version. In Firefox, your web traffic is visible, but not under the Tor browser it uses its Tor network to route all web traffic, gifting its users the much-needed anonymity and privacy.

So you do not need to worry about traffic analysis and network surveillance while browsing the internet due to Tor’s encrypted connections.

Installing Tor Browser in Linux Using Installer

The installation of the Tor browser on a Linux operating system environment is simplified thanks to the Tor Browser Launcher. It automates most of the installation steps making it easy for any user to follow along.

First, go to the Tor download page and download the Tor Browser installer file and run the following commands to install it.

$ wget https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbrowser/10.5.2/tor-browser-linux64-10.5.2_en-US.tar.xz
$ tar -xvf tor-browser-linux64-10.5.2_en-US.tar.xz
$ cd tor-browser_en-US/
$ chmod +x start-tor-browser.desktop
$ ./start-tor-browser.desktop 

Installing Tor Browser in Linux Using Flatpak

Regardless of the Linux OS distribution, you are using, consider the applicability of Flatpak to install the latest Tor Browser Launcher on your Linux system.

Flatpak is a package management and software deployment utility. It is effective in accessing and installing numerous Linux apps. Its reliability is guaranteed when handling the Tor Browser Launcher installation.

We need to cover two steps to fully install and use Flatpak. The first step is to install the Flatpak package and then add its repo (Flathub) to our system. This repo will give us installation privilege for the Tor browser app.

Instaling Flatpak in Linux

The Ubuntu and Linux Mint distributions support Flatpak by default. However, to be safe, we can verify the installation.

$ sudo apt install flatpak   

For users of other Ubuntu-based distributions, Elementary OS, or Debian-based distributions, you might need to first add the official PPA repository to your system before installing Flatpak.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install flatpak  

For users under Fedora and Red Hat Linux distributions, use the following installation command:

$ sudo yum install flatpak 

For openSUSE users, use the following command:

$ sudo zypper install flatpak

For Arch Linux users, use the following command:

$ sudo pacman -S flatpak

Now that you have flatpak installed, we need to add its repository information on our Linux system. It will aid us in tracking and downloading our Tor browser application. Use the following command to add the Flathub repository to your Linux system.

$ sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

With Flatpak and its repo (Flathub) fully set up, it’s time to install the Tor Browser Launcher using the following command.

$ sudo flatpak install flathub com.github.micahflee.torbrowser-launcher 

How to Use Tor Browser in Linux

To access the Tor Browser Launcher, use the following command.

$ flatpak run com.github.micahflee.torbrowser-launcher

Executing this launcher command leads to a GUI instance that will start downloading your Tor Browser. You will interact with several on-screen instructions before your Tor Browser setup is complete.

If you run into an error like the following:

Flatpak Error
Flatpak Error

You need to change your ownership and write permissions with the following command then re-run the command:

$ sudo chown -R $USER:$USER $HOME

Another probable error is this one:

Flatpak Plugin Error
Flatpak Plugin Error

To fix it, run the following commands sequences one after the other:

$ export DISPLAY=:1.0
$ pip install opencv-python==4.3.0.36

After the installation of the “opencv-python==4.3.0.36” module, we need to add the installation directory of the f2py, f2py3, and f2py3.8 scripts to the path:

$ export PATH=/home/dnyce/.local/bin/:$PATH

Remember to replace “dnyce” in the command above with your system username. Restart your machine and run the Tor Browser Launcher command again:

$ flatpak run com.github.micahflee.torbrowser-launcher 

It will take a while for the Tor browser to download and install on your system.

Installing Tor Browser in Linux
Installing Tor Browser in Linux

After the installation is done, you will be met with Tor’s main user interface.

Connect Tor Browser in Linux
Connect Tor Browser in Linux

To start using Tor Browser, you have two options. First, you can click on the “Tor Network Settings” menu.

Tor Network Settings
Tor Network Settings

Here, you can set your connection settings preferences before you start browsing under the Tor network. Alternatively, you can click on the “Connect” menu from its main screen for a direct connection to the Tor network.

Tor Network Direct Connection
Tor Network Direct Connection

And just like that, you can anonymously browse the internet in the comfort of your privacy.

Browse Internet Privately using Tor
Browse Internet Privately using Tor

Try as much as possible to avoid maximizing your Tor browser window. It keeps websites from acquiring important device info like your machine’s screen resolution and size. Under Tor’s network preference settings menu, you can choose a preferred security level that matches your online presence.

Tor Security Settings
Tor Security Settings

It is also not a good idea to install extensions on this browser as your online activities can easily be tracked.

Removing Tor Browser in Linux Using Flatpak

If you have installed Tor using the Flatpak, you can easily remove it from the system using the following command.

$ flatpak uninstall com.github.micahflee.torbrowser-launcher
Final Note

Before you fully embrace the Tor browser, you should know those major websites; especially ones with government-enforced firewalls, block or prohibit Tor users. Other than that, there is no limit to what you can achieve with the Tor browser. Try to be safe and avoid shady or illegal sites on the dark web. The goal is to achieve privacy and anonymity and not get into unnecessary trouble.

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