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How to integrate Thunderbird with Tor on Linux

Want to secure the emails you send on Linux through the Mozilla Thunderbird app? Thanks to the Torbirdy extension, you can!┬áTorbirdy works well on Linux and is an excellent add-on for those looking to secure their email and route it through the Tor network when using Thunderbird. Today, we’ll show you how to install the extension and use it to integrate Thunderbird with Tor. We’ll also go over how to set up the Tor browser bundle on Linux.

Note: in this guide, we work extensively with the Thunderbird email client on Linux. If you don’t already have the application set up on your Linux PC, visit this page on Pkgs.org to get it going.

Use a VPN with Thunderbird and Torbirdy

Tor is the leading privacy-first system for those that care about avoiding censorship and persecution from governments, etc. With that said, Tor isn’t always the safest thing, so it’s a good idea also to use a VPN with the service.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s safe to use a VPN while connected to the Tor network.In fact, we’ve covered how to do that on Addictivetips in the past in this post.

ExpressVPN takes the top spot as the best VPN reviewed by our security experts. It works well on Linux and has an excellent client for download. Better still, they offer fast download speeds with 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy across 94 different countries. Also, they have an exclusive offer for AddictiveTips readers: 3 months free on the annual plan, a 49% discount.

Install Tor browser bundle

The Torbirdy extension for Mozilla Thunderbird doesn’t provide a way to connect to the Tor network on its own, and it probably won’t be able to any time soon. So, before you can use the extension, you must first download and install the Tor browser bundle for Linux.

When installing Tor on Linux, you should always get it directly from the project’s website. They have a complete bundle that is easy to get going. Don’t be tempted to grab it from your distro’s repository; it won’t be as easy to configure.

To download the latest Tor bundle, head over to the download page on the website. Once there, look for the GNU/Linux column and download the TarGZ archive for either 32-bit or 64-bit. Then, when the file is done downloading, launch a terminal window with Ctrl + Shift + T or Ctrl + Alt + T.

In the terminal window, move the session from your home directory (~/) to the new ~/Download folder.

cd ~/Downloads

Then, once in the folder extract the Tor browser bundle using the Tar command.

tar xJvf tor-browser-linux64-*_en-US.tar.xz

or

tar xJvf tor-browser-linux32-*_en-US.tar.xz

When the extraction is done, use the mv command and move the Tor browser files from the download folder to a better location (such as ~/Documents).

mv tor-browser_en-US ~/Documents

Finally, close the terminal window and open up your file manager. Once it’s open, click on “Documents,” then “tor-brower_en-US.”

Inside the Tor browser folder, double-click on start-tor-browser.desktop to launch the connection tool.

In the Tor browser connection tool, use the UI to log into the Tor browser. Be sure to do this each time BEFORE accessing Thunderbird via Torbirdy.

Get Torbirdy on Thunderbird

Getting Torbirdy is just like installing any other add-on into Thunderbird. To get it working on your setup, launch the Thunderbird email application. Then, click the menu and click “Add-ons,” followed by “Add-ons” to launch the extension area.

In the extension area of Thunderbird, look for “Get Add-ons” and select it with the mouse. Selecting the “install” button will take you to the official Mozilla Thunderbird extension page.

Make your way to the “Up & Coming menu” and click the “see all” button to get to the search page.

On the search page, type in “Torbirdy” and press the enter key. Click the “Add to Thunderbird” button to add it to the app.

Click the icon that appears on screen in Thunderbird and read the message. It’s a warning about installing the extension.

When you’ve gone over the warning, click the “Install” button and add Torbirdy to your Thunderbird client. Then, go back to the add-on manager via Add-ons > Add-ons in the menu and click the “Restart” button that appears under the Torbirdy extension.

After the Thunderbird Email client re-launches, ensure that the Tor connection software tool is running and connected to the network. Assuming it is, you’ll be able to send your emails directly over the Tor network.

Remove Torbirdy

Don’t like using the Torbirdy extension? You can remove it just as easy as it was installed! To do it, go to the extension menu. Then, locate Torbirdy in the app list.

Once you’ve found the app in the list, click the “Remove” button to uninstall the extension. Alternatively, disable the extension by clicking “Disable”.

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