How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is open-source, free software that enables anonymous communication when using online services such as web surfing. The Tor network directs the Internet traffic through a free worldwide volunteer overlay network with over six thousand relays and continues to grow. Many users want to find more ways to keep their information and activities anonymous or at least as private as possible, which has led to Tor Browser growing quite popular in recent years as it conceals a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.

The Tor network is intended to protect the personal privacy of users and their freedom and ability from conducting communication without having their activities monitored, and data were taken without their consent and used to sum it up.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install the latest Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye.

Prerequisites

Update Operating System

Update your Debian operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.

To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@debian~]$ sudo whoami
root

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Debian.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.

su

Option 1 – Install Tor Browser with Sid & APT Pinning

The best option is to use APT pinning so the standard update command will check the Sid (Unstable) repository for the torbrowser-launcher package first while keeping the rest of your Debian 11 packages on the existing repositories. This ensures when any updates come out, you will receive them quickly.

First, using a text editor, open/create the following file.

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences

Next, add the following.

Package: *
Pin: release a=bullseye
Pin-Priority: 500

Package: torbrowser-launcher
Pin: release a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 1000

Package: *
Pin: release a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 100

Example:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Save the file (CTRL+O), then exit (CTRL+X).

Next, add the unstable (SID) repository.

First, open the sources.list file.

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Next, add the unstable repository to the file.

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free

Example (Last two lines):

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Now save the file CTRL+O, then exit CTRL+X.

Update the APT repository to reflect the changes.

sudo apt update

Next, install the Tor Browser, run the following command:

sudo apt install torbrowser-launcher

Example dependencies that will be installed:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Type “Y,” then press the “ENTER KEY” to proceed with the installation.

To confirm the installation, run the apt-cache policy command.

apt-cache policy torbrowser-launcher

Example output:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Now Tor Brower will be visible in your Activities > Show Applications > Tor Browser.

Example:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Next, proceed to the next part of the tutorial in launching and configuring Tor Browser.

Option 2 – Tor Browser from Source

The second option of installation is to install Tor Browser using the latest archive from the downloads page.

Install wget Package

You will need to have wget installed for this tutorial. To find out if you have it, use the following:

wget --version

Example output if you have it installed:

[joshua@localhost ~]$ wget --version
GNU Wget 1.21 built on linux-gnu.

By default, Debian 11should have this installed. If missing, use the following command:

sudo apt install wget -y

Note, installing wget without checking will not harm either.

Download Tor Browser Installation on Debian 11

Use the wget command once you have the latest .tar link as follows:

wget https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbrowser/10.5.4/tor-browser-linux64-10.5.4_en-US.tar.xz

Note, the above command is an example only. Make sure to check for the latest version.

Once you have downloaded the installation archive, extract it using:

tar -xvJf tor-browser-linux64-10.5.4_en-US.tar.xz

Launch Tor Browser Installation on Debian 11

Now, CD into the directory with:

cd tor-browser_en-US

To start Tor Browser and set up configuration installation, use the following command:

./start-tor-browser.desktop

Note, this will launch Tor Browser. However, you will not see it in your Show Applications menu. To install the Tor Browser icon, you will need to add –register-app to the end of the command as follows:

./start-tor-browser.desktop --register-app

Example output:

[joshua@localhost tor-browser_en-US]$ ./start-tor-browser.desktop --register-app
Launching './Browser/start-tor-browser --detach --register-app'...
Tor Browser has been registered as a desktop app for this user in ~/.local/share/applications/

Now Tor Brower will be visible in your Activities > Show Applications > Tor Browser.

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Configuring Tor Browser

On the first launch, you will come across the following window as below:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Most users would use Connect; however, Tor Network settings have the ability to use proxy settings for countries such as China, Egypt, and Turkey, to name a few where using such services is prohibited. Please make sure you are not breaking any laws using this. Bypassing in some of the said countries could get you into some serious trouble possibly.

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

In the tutorial, the method used was to connect straight to the network as most users would. When you click connect, depending on your location, it may take 2 to 10 seconds to connect to the network, and you will see this message while connecting:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Once connected, you will get the following page:

How to Install Tor Browser on Debian 11 Bullseye

Congratulations, you have connected to the Tor Network through your Tor Browser.

Tor Onion Services

When using Tor Browser, instead of using normal websites, you can elect to use the part of the Online services of the Tor Network. The websites, however, must be available in this format, and if they are, they use a .onion address.

For those unfamiliar with onion services, they are anonymous network services that are exposed over the Tor network. In contrast to conventional Internet services, onion services are private, generally not indexed by search engines, and use self-certifying domain names long and difficult for humans to read.

Some notable sites using .onion services are:

To see more services visit the wiki page List of Tor onion services.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have learned how to download Tor Browser from the source, install and add the icon to your application menu. Tor Browser is an excellent option for users wanting to keep their internet activities out of the hands of advertisers, ISPs, and websites. The other benefit of using Tor Browser is that it can help in most cases getting around censorship restrictions in their country, people looking to hide their IP address or anyone else who doesn’t want their browsing habits linked to them.

The downsides of using Tor is it is going to load pages a lot more slowly than a standard browser like Chrome or Firefox when using the Tor Network, along with many websites and web services choose to block the use of Tor so you may be limited browsing the web depending on what you visit and use daily.

Please note, using Tor should not be an incentive or an option to use the Dark web or services that violate the country’s laws in any country.



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