Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, April 26, 2019 at 22:02

 (Ubuntu 19.04 plays an Invidious video and shows Privacy from its System Settings)

To accompany the WTDAI article, I write this one to sum up 12 things related to user's privacy on Ubuntu 19.04. You will find here tips for internet privacy, like DNSCrypt and Enigmail, and tips for system privacy, like Screen Lock and Password Management. You will also find my recommendations for network services, like Invidious to replace YouTube, and more. I tried to make them short and easy for you. I hope this list useful and practical for everybody new in both Ubuntu and privacy things. Last but not least, privacy is a very broad field and I left more readings in the end for you to learn more. Finally, happy working!

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More about Ubuntu 19.04: Download Links | Install Guide | Bootable-Making Guide | Upgrade 14.04 to 16.04 | Upgrade 16.04 to 18.04 | WTDAI | GNOME 3.32 | Desktop Extensions | Dash to Panel | Dash to Dock | Tray Icons


  • 1) Search engine
  • 2) User password
  • 3) Notifications
  • 4) Browser addons
  • 5) Dnscrypt (Protect your DNS transmission)
  • 6) Seahorse password manager
  • 7) Nautilus one-click secure delete
  • 8) Lock screen
  • 9) Enigmail (Encrypt every email in easy way)
  • 10) YouTube alternative
  • 11) Google Drive alternative
  • 12) Social networks alternatives

1. Search Engine

I recommend you for privacy and convenience. Its slogan is "The world's most private search engine" and it's recommended both by and PRISM Break.


2. User Password

Do you want to change your login password?Change it in the System Settings > Details > Users > select your username > Unlock > type your password > your user details showing > click Password box > Change Password dialog showing > type current password, type new password, type the new password once again > click Change > your password changed.

(Users management section in System Settings)

(Change Password dialog for current user)

3. Control your notifications

You can either disable or enable just particular notifications. It is useful when your chatting, emails, transfer, or any other information exchange is confidential. Go to System Settings > Notifications > disable 'Notification Popups' (to completely run desktop without notifications) > disable 'Lock Screen Notifications' (to prevent lock screen showing any of them). You can adjust these as you wish later.

(Every application may have its notification disabled)

4. Browser Addons

As usual, for Mozilla Firefox I recommend the trio.

5. DNSCrypt

DNSCrypt, to put it simply, is a way to make every of our DNS query encrypted. This way, in most cases, your browsing will not be disturbed or redirected by your ISP anymore. The program to enable DNSCrypt system on Ubuntu is called dnscrypt-proxy. Installing dnscrypt-proxy on 19.04 is very quick for just 3 minutes.

Install it:
$ sudo apt-get install dnscrypt-proxy

Configure it:
$ sudo nano /etc/dnscrypt-proxy/dnscrypt-proxy.toml

Change server_names = ['cloudflare'] to server_names = ['cisco'] and save it.

Restart it:
$ sudo systemctl restart dnscrypt-proxy

Make your system recognize it:
Go to Network Manager > select your currently used network name > go to IPv4 tab > disable Automatic DNS > enter address > Apply.

Test it:
$ dig txt

(Encrypted DNS transmission should show "dnscrypt enabled [...]" message)

6. Manage your passwords with Seahorse!

As I mentioned before, Ubuntu 19.04 brings a decent password manager already. Its name is GNOME Seahorse, it's presented as Passwords and Keys on start menu. Its interface is very simple with a short left panel and wider area (to hide/show passwords) on right. You can save username+password as much as you like, you can lock the program with another password, so to access your saved credentials one needs to know your Seahorse password (the same way you use KeePassX).

(When locked, Seahorse says "Keyring is locked" and it demands the Unlock password)

7. Click to securely delete file on Nautilus

See Tails GNU/Linux's about page. It mentions Nautilus Wipe as one among its state-of-the-art security tools. By selecting a file > right-click > Wipe, we are sure that a file is wiped out securely from the storage media and cannot be recovered later. It has a nice intro to "wiping" here.

Install it by command line:
$ sudo apt-get install nautilus-wipe

(Right-click on a file provides 'Wipe' and 'Wipe available disk space' options)

8. Lock screen  & purge trash automatically

As I mentioned as well, and among those, is one important thing, that is Screen Lock. Go to System Settings > Privacy > Screen Lock > enable it and give it time delay as little as you feel comfort with (e.g. 30 seconds) > disable Show Notifications option. This setting makes your screen automatically covered up with login prompt so one should enter correct password to see what you are working with.

Purge trash bin automatically: you need to setup this if you work with sensitive information and you often delete them temporarily so they reside on trash bin for a period of time. Go to System Settings > Privacy > Purge Trash [...] > enable Automatically Empty Trash > enable Automatically purge Temporary files > select Purge After with shortest time duration you feel comfort with e.g. 1 hour.

(Setup to automatically purge both Trash Bin and Temporary Files)

9. Enigmail: Email Encryption

Ubuntu comes with both Thunderbird Mail Client and GnuPG encryption tool. Use Enigmail addon so your email account in Thunderbird can get encrypted easily. Install Enigmail by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A on Thunderbird > search enigmail > click Install button > Enigmail installed. To setup Enigmail for you emails, follow this tutorial.

(Enigmail page shown within Thunderbird addon properties page)

10. YouTube Alternative: Invidious

Both YouTube and Invidious are network services, not programs you install to computer.

YouTube is known for its nonfree JavaScript (proprietary code that runs on your web browser) and network tracking against the user. Many of us want to watch videos without those stuffs, but cannot, as YouTube videos won't play unless your browser has JavaScript enabled.

(Ubuntu 19.04: What's New video by OMG! Ubuntu website originally uploaded to YouTube and played on Invidious; notice the blue Download button on bottom-left)

Fortunately there is Invidious, a video streaming website that allows us to watch YouTube without YouTube, meaning, we can play and loop and download all YouTube videos without JavaScript, user tracking, and ads. You can download every YouTube video in Invidious right on the player interface in various formats, notably WEBM, MP4, and MP3. You can embed videos on your blog post without JavaScript now thanks to Invidious, just click the Share button. Thanks to Omar Roth for developing Invidious!

11. Google Drive Alternative: Internet Archive

If you use Google Drive only for sharing, not for personal storage, now you can use Internet Archive instead. Account registration is gratis, with unlimited file upload, direct link for every file, and ability to seed torrents. Moreover, Internet Archive is very famous as the Internet Wayback Machine and the biggest Internet Book Library.

(Example: my public file sharing place on Internet Archive)

12. Privacy Friendly Social Networks recommends Mastodon, diaspora*, and Friendica as privacy-wise replacements to Twitter and Facebook. Take Mastodon as example. You can create account in any Mastodon server, for instance, and browse around other Mastodon servers to like and reshare everything. When you see things like Mastodon, you think of emails, different email accounts can just communicate with eachothers. Here, I just want to show some examples of our communities' Mastodon accounts:

Further Readings

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.