3 Ways Of Installing Tor Browser On Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Etc.)

Tor Browser Linux

Tor Browser, previously known as Tor Browser Bundle, is a web browser that protects your privacy while you are surfing the Internet. It's a modified version of Mozilla Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) that includes TorButton, TorLauncher, NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extensions, and the Tor proxy.

Tor Browser automatically starts the Tor background processes and routes traffic through the Tor network; sensitive data like cookies and the browsing history are removed upon closing the browser.

Its main purpose is to circumvent censorship by concealing its users' identities and their online activity from surveillance and traffic analysis. This is done by using using thousands of servers (Tor relays), multi-layered encryption, isolating each website you visit so third-party trackers can't follow you, prevent someone watching your connection from knowing what websites you visit, and make it difficult to be fingerprinted based on your device and browser info.

Use it to access sites that may be blocked in your country or region, or to prevent somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, but do keep in mind that nothing is foolproof! Anyone monitoring your browsing habits can still see that you're using Tor, so keep that in mind before using it.

This article explains installing Tor Browser on Linux, providing 3 options (2 of them using Tor Browser Launcher, see below for details) for this.

Do not confuse Tor Browser with the Tor client. If you want to use Tor with other applications, check out: How To Install And Use Tor (Client) As A Proxy In Ubuntu Or Linux Mint.

Option 1: Install Tor Browser from your Linux distribution repositories

Tor Browser isn't directly included in the repositories but instead, many Linux distributions provide a package for Tor Browser Launcher, a tool to securely download and install Tor Browser on Linux.

Tor Browser Launcher downloads and installs the latest stable Tor Browser version in your language and for your computer architecture, verifies the browser's signature to ensure the version that was downloaded was cryptographically signed by the Tor developers and was not tampered with, adds Tor Browser and Tor Browser Launcher Settings to the applications menu / launcher, while also including AppArmor profiles for Tor Browser.

It's also worth mentioning that Tor Browser installed through Tor Browser Launcher automatically updates itself, so you'll get updates as soon as the Tor developers release them.

Install Tor Browser (with the help of Tor Browser Launcher) from the repositories:

  • Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Pop!_OS and other Debian or Ubuntu based Linux distributions:
sudo apt install torbrowser-launcher

  • Fedora:
sudo dnf install torbrowser-launcher

  • openSUSE:
sudo zypper install torbrowser-launcher

  • Solus OS:
sudo eopkg install torbrowser-launcher

On Arch Linux (and Manjaro), Tor Browser is not in the repositories but you can install it through AUR, and you have two options: installing Tor Browser directly (en-US language only) or installing it through Tor Browser Launcher.

Search for 'tor browser' or 'tor browser launcher' in the repositories if you're using other Linux distributions.

After installing Tor Browser Launcher, open your application menu / launcher and launch Tor Browser. The first time you run this, it will automatically download the latest Tor Browser version for your language and extract it, then launch Tor Browser. Subsequent runs will directly launch Tor Browser.

Tor Browser will automatically prompt you to update the software once a new version has been released. When this happens, the Torbutton icon will display a small yellow triangle.

In some cases Tor Browser Launcher may fail to download Tor Browser or to verify its signature ("signature verification failed" error). In such cases you have the option of using the Flathub Tor Browser Launcher (option #2 below), or downloading and installing the Tor Browser binary manually (see option #3 below). For example I was trying to install Tor Browser through Tor Browser Launcher on Ubuntu 16.04, and it failed with a "signature verification failed" error, but using the Flathub Tor Browser Launcher package worked flawlessly (the Ubuntu package probably failed because it's an ancient version).

Option 2: Install Tor Browser from Flathub

Flathub added Tor Browser Launcher to its constantly increasing repository last week, making it easy to install on any Linux distribution that supports Flatpak. This has the advantage of supporting a large number of Linux distributions, while also offering an up to date Tor Browser Launcher version for Linux distributions that have old versions in their repositories, which have bugs or no longer work. I've already covered Tor Browser Launcher above, so please read that to get an idea on what it does.

Before installing Tor Browser through Flathub you'll need to setup Flatpak and Flathub on your system if you haven't already. A quick setup page is provided, which contains instructions for many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu (and Kubuntu, Pop!_OS or Elementary OS), Fedora, RHEL, openSUSE, Arch Linux, Debian, CentOS, Gentoo, Mageia, and others. Linux Mint 19 and newer has Flathub enabled by default.

Next, open your Software app and install Tor Browser Launcher. Not all software stores support installing Flatpak applications, and in that case you can just user this command to install Tor Browser Launcher from Flathub (it needs Flatpak and Flathub setup on your system as I've mentioned!):

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

After installing Tor Browser Launcher from Flathub, open your application menu / launcher and launch Tor Browser. The first time you run this, it will automatically download the latest Tor Browser version for your language and extract it, then launch Tor Browser. Subsequent runs will directly launch Tor Browser.

Related: Secure File Sharing Tool OnionShare 2 Adds Anonymous Dropboxes

Option 3: Download and install Tor Browser binary manually (and get it to create a menu entry automatically)

The Tor Project offers Tor Browser precompiled binaries for all supported operating systems on this page - click on the Tux logo to download the latest Tor Browser for Linux. You may also visit this page to download Tor Browser for a different architecture or in a different language.

You may want to verify the Tor Browser signature after downloading it. Tor Browser Launcher (the other 2 options) does this automatically for you, but in this case you'll have to do this manually.

Extract the archive you've downloaded from the Tor Project website, and copy the extracted tor-browser_en-US folder (where en-US is the Tor Browser language, so it may be different for you depending on your language; the folder should contain a start-tor-browser.desktop file and a Browser subfolder) to where you want Tor Browser to run from. I recommend copying this to a directory where your user has read/write access, so Tor Browser can auto-update itself. For example you could copy it to an "Apps" folder in your home directory.

You can now get Tor Browser to automatically add itself to your desktop's application menu. Open a terminal, navigate to the folder where you've copied Tor Browser from the terminal, make the start-tor-browser.desktop file executable, and run it with the --register-app flag so it adds menu items for Tor Browser to your applications menu:

cd /path/to/tor-browser_en-US
./start-tor-browser.desktop --register-app

You'll need to replace /path/to/tor-browser_en-US with the path to the Tor Browser folder (which contains the start-tor-browser.desktop file and a Browser subfolder). It's worth noting that you can't directly run start-tor-browser.desktop with its full path, you need to be in this file's parent folder to run it.

For example, if your Tor Browser folder is called tor-browser_en-US, and you've placed it in an Apps folder in your home directory, you'd run the following commands in order to make the start-tor-browser.desktop file executable, and add Tor Browser to your desktop's application menu:

cd ~/Apps/tor-browser_en-US/
./start-tor-browser.desktop --register-app

After this, Tor Browser will show up in your applications menu so you can launch it from there with a simple click.