Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, May 11, 2018 at 22:34

If you are already aware about 2013 global privacy case, I believe you care about your internet privacy by now. If you just switched to Ubuntu, here's a list of user-friendly programs (free software only) and search engine to protect your privacy. You will find my recommendation of a web search engine, a specific web browser, add-ons, email client enhancements, and password storage. This list accompanies the previous list of 20 useful programs for 18.04. Enjoy!

Read also how to install 18.04, upgrade guide from 16.04, what to do after installing it, and the review.

1. Search Engine

You can switch from Google to another search engine that protects your privacy. Here I recommend you StartPage, the search engine I myself use in all of my operating systems.

  • Alternatives: SearX. DuckDuckGo. Search Encrypt (new!).
  • Description: StartPage is a user-friendly privacy-respecting search engine and it gives you Google's search results without you being tracked; StartPage also gives you web proxy in each result (important thing DuckDuckGo doesn't have for now); it is also can be easily added to Firefox.
  • More info: read FSF article (2013), read Hacker Noon article (2018); read WIRED article (2018) which explain why we need to avoid Google.

2. Web Browser

3. Privacy-Protecting Add-ons

  • uBlock Origin: block all ads, fast and easy on memory; also able to block everything else outside of ads like images, scripts, files, etc.
  • HTTPS Everywhere: the enforcer of HTTPS (Secure version of HTTP) for all websites and all connections within them.
  • Privacy Badger: user-friendly internet trackers blocker; it's free software developed by Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Proxy Switcher and Manager: to easily switch between proxies and works great with Tor SOCKS proxy

Worth mentioning:
  • GNU LibreJS: [for expert] block all proprietary JavaScript by default, with many settings available.
  • NoScript: [for expert] block all kind of scripts.

3. Internet Encryption

  • Alternatives: I2P, Gnunet
  • Description: Tor running behind your system, and you force Firefox to browse through it. This way, nobody could redirect your browsing activities, or deny it, or read the content, or hijack it. For example, if your ISP hijack your HTTP connection (or bomb you with ads), by using Tor the ISP could not do it anymore. This works for another applications as well (e.g. Thunderbird, Polari, Pidgin, etc.) as long as they support SOCKS proxy.
  • How to install: see our Tor+Firefox tutorial
  • More info: see Tor documentation

4. Email Client

Want to protect each email sent? Have friends who also encrypts their emails? You can combine your Thunderbird with Enigmail so every email will be automatically encrypted. Nobody could read the mail you sent except the recipients themselves.

  • Alternatives: Icedove, Claws Mail.
  • Description: by combining both, you do not need to configure GPG encryption the hard way from command line, except you can do it easily in user-friendly fashion; once configured, you can email anyone in encrypted way automatically.
  • How to install: see Enigmail installation, then see Quick Start
  • More info: still using Gmail? How about looking to more privacy-protecting alternatives? See Privacy Tools#email, see PRXBX#email, see also That One Privacy Site#email. For quick recommendation, I see Disroot Mail service to be the best, full-featured, gratis alternative to Gmail for now.

5. Password Storage

  • Description: KeePassXC helps you store your usernames and passwords in your own computer with encryption. It saves your accounts in a file named .kdb and anybody must enter your password to open that file. [note: KeePassXC is a community continuation of KeePassX and available only on 18.04 & 18.10 for now]
  • How to install: sudo apt-get install keepassxc
  • More info: read KeePassXC FAQ

6. OpenVPN

OpenVPN with GUI in 18.04

Use the GUI to configure your OpenVPN connections easily. OpenVPN automatically force all of your connections to enter an OpenVPN tunnel. This way, all programs you run which use internet, will automatically protected by VPN encryption within the tunnel. Plus, VPN wraps the whole system so you do not need to configure proxy/socks at all. [See Privacy Tools website for recommended OpenVPN providers with gratis trials.]

How to install: sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn-gnome

How About Android?

Yes, this blog is all about Ubuntu. But many Ubuntu users now have Android-powered phones, so it's interesting to let you know:

  • F-Droid: a purely free software only App Store (alternative to Google Play Store), gives you many Android applications especially the privacy-protecting ones
  • Orbot: Tor in Android.
  • Orfox: Tor browser in Android, the new version of Orweb.
  • Orwall: force selected applications to use Tor network.
  • IceCat Mobile: the purified and privacy enhanced version of Firefox, for Android.

Friendly References

You are not alone. We are not alone. There are already many, many people care about global internet privacy needs and we can read their guidances and recommendations. Among them, here are the most user-friendly and easy to practice I can show you:

A 'search engine' section of PRISM Break

Worth mentioning:

What Is It and Why Free Software Only?

Free software is not gratis software but software that the user is free. Free software is about the user's right, either individually or collectively, to control over the software. If you run your activities with nonfree software (also called proprietary), you don't control the whole things software does within your computer, which only means there is somebody else controlling you and the computers. To protect your privacy, you should make sure you run only free software and relies only on privacy-respecting internet services. Read more on the FSF's Free Software Is Even More Important Today than In 1983. Read also free software alternatives to Facebook and Twitter on the FSF news.


This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.