Out of all modern operating system platforms, Linux is often seen as the best when it comes to privacy. While no operating system is indeed 100% private, the idea that Linux is a better choice for those looking to take control of their privacy is very accurate. Many (if not all) Linux OS vendors make it a point to respect user’s privacy, as well as security. Using any generic Linux OS as opposed to something like Windows is a good start, and will certainly protect your privacy. However, if privacy is your main concern when using your computer, it’s best to use a Linux distribution that specializes in respecting user’s privacy. Not sure where to start with privacy Linux distributions? We’ve got you covered! Here are the six best Linux operating systems for privacy!
The Tails Linux distribution is a Debian live system that users can load up and run from any USB or CD/ DVD. It comes with a secure browser, secure email client and other internet tools.
The OS works very hard to ensure that all internet traffic leaving the system is completely anonymous. It makes heavy use of tools like Tor to ensure it’s users privacy.
- Tails has tight integration with the Tor anonymous network.
- Users get access to Onion Circuits. A useful tool which lets users view how their PC traverses through the Tor network.
- Included web browser is pre-setup for security and includes add-ons like NoScript, Ublock Origin, and HTTPS Everywhere.
- Tails comes with the Aircrack-NG wireless network auditing tool.
- The OS has a built-in Bitcoin wallet for those looking to make secure transactions using crypto.
- Is encrypted and designed to run as a fully functional OS on a USB drive, without any compromises.
2. Qubes OS
Qubes OS is a Linux distribution that focuses on privacy and security by compartmentalizing each program into a “Qube” or container that can’t interact with the rest of the system.
These “qubes” are very secure and can offer peace of mind to privacy advocates in an increasingly invasive online world.
- It’s use of containers aka “Qubes” is excellent for security, and allows users to never worry about compromised programs.
- Every isolated Qube program has its own color-coded windows to help users remember what window is what.
- Qubes has full-disk encryption to ensure your files are safe.
- Qubes OS has a kernel that is lean and focuses on security.
Whonix is a privacy system that consists of two virtual machines that interact with each other. It works by setting up a host machine and a guest machine. The host sets up a Tor gateway proxy, and the guest connects to it.
Thanks to the Whonix Host/Guest system, all internet traffic is hidden behind the host proxy. Going this route allows the user to be completely anonymous.
- Whonix comes with the Tor browser, so traversing through the internet is always private.
- The OS uses an innovative Host/Guest system which keeps users safe behind the anonymous proxy.
- Ready-to-go PGP Email set up in Mozilla Thunderbird.
- Whonix comes with the Tox privacy instant messenger application.
- Whonix makes it a point to prevent IP and DNS leaking. Also encrypts DNS traffic.
4. Discreete Linux
Discreete Linux’s primary focus is to protect its users against malicious spying and surveillance.
While its primary focus is to protect users from trojan software that will steal your data, it also comes with the standard security features you’d come to expect, like encryption, advanced network security and more.
- Discreete Linux dissuades the user explicitly from using any internal hard drives, as it could be a potential security risk.
- Due to attacks on systems, all external media devices mount non-executable, meaning no programs will run on the system. This feature allows users to get away from self-executing viruses, worms, and spying programs.
- To protect from the BadUSB exploit, Discreete Linux will only load USB devices that the user manually loads up.
- Despite its heavy set of security features, Discreete Linux targets regular people and is easy to use and understand.
5. SubGraph OS
Subgraph OS is a Linux distribution that tries very hard to bridge the gap between protecting your privacy and ease of use. The mission of the project is to help users realize that protecting yourself doesn’t need to be difficult.
Subgraph, like many other privacy-centric Linux distributions, has built-in Tor integrations, a hardened Linux kernel, and more.
- Includes a hardened kernel, with the Grsecurity/PaX bundle of patches to prevent dozens of system exploits and security problems.
- Applications run in an isolated sandbox to protect the user from program exploits.
- Subgraph OS has a stellar application firewall that immediately alerts the user when a program attempts to make a connection outside of the network.
- Like many other privacy-centric distributions, Subgraph OS has tight integration with the Tor network, and by default instructs all applications to only communicate over the Tor protocol.
6. Parrot Security OS
Looking for a Linux distribution that not only respects your privacy but lets you test security as well? Check out Parrot Security OS! It’s a penetration testing tool with some top-notch privacy and security features as well!
- Though Parrot Security OS is a “laboratory” for security and digital forensics experts, it also comes with a lot of the standard privacy features that a lot of distributions on this list offer.
- Comes with a full suite of security penetration testing tools that users can use to test the limits of their own privacy and security.
- Applications that run on Parrot are “fully sandboxed,” and protected.
If you’re seriously concerned about privacy, the best action you can take is to back up your data and switch to one of the Linux distributions on this list. They’re all excellent operating systems with tons of great features and will help in preventing your personal information from being stolen online.