Using upribox to protect online privacy


Currently, the best platform for the upribox software is a RPi2. Its hardware is sufficiently powerful to allow for ad-free browsing without impinging on speed. The user will need a microSD card for use as bulk storage for the system with at least a 4GB capacity.

The brand new RPi3 is not yet suitable for use with upribox software because the software does not support the integrated WiFi adapter found on the new Rasp Pi. For a WiFi stick, the project team recommends the TL-WN722N [6] from TP-Link. This stick has been around for several years; it supports the common WiFi standard 802.11b/g/n and has an external antenna.

If the user has to make do with a different WiFi stick, the team identifies some important requirements to be considered when selecting one. The adapter has to support access point (AP) mode, because the box uses the stick to generate its own WiFi network. Many of the Linux-compatible WiFi chipsets cannot handle AP mode, usually because of either restricted firmware or missing driver functions.

Also, many manufacturers do not mention the type of the chipset in the technical specifications for their WiFi components. As a result, it can be unclear whether a specific WiFi stick is suitable for use with upribox. Therefore, the user wanting to purchase a WiFi module should first figure out which of the common chipsets works in AP mode. The user should then determine which chipset version has been integrated into the module.

Some caution is necessary when looking at WiFi sticks offering a SoftAP mode. As a rule, this mode is not compatible with the HostAP demon used under Linux. A USB dongle operating in this incompatible mode could not generate a WiFi network for upribox. The user can check with practically all Linux distributions to see whether they support AP mode for WiFi sticks that the user might already own.

You can check whether support exists by entering

iw list | grep AP$

at the command line for an inserted WiFi stick. If no output appears, the adapter does not support AP mode. The readout * AP, on the other hand, indicates that the AP mode is functioning correctly. In testing, I identified only the official Wi-Pi adapter and the TP-Link TL-WN722N stick (Figure 2) as components supporting AP mode.

Figure 2: The TP-Link stick and Wi-Pi USB WiFi adapter also work in AP mode and are compatible with Upribox.

Sending and receiving quality of the WiFi stick can also present problems. Nano-sticks have a nifty appearance when used as a client adapter on a notebook because of their diminutive size; however, they are not suitable for use as an access point because of limited capabilities in sending and receiving.

Thus, it's a good idea to use a WiFi adapter for upribox that is equipped with an external antenna. You should look for a high-gain antenna, which has a larger external antennae and shows significantly better performance than the mini-adapters, which have an integrated antenna.


To get upribox ready for startup, you first download the ZIP image from GitHub [4]. After decompressing the archive, the user should transfer the approximately 3.2GB image file to the mounted SD card using the following command:

$ dd if=/<Path/to/Image> of=/dev/<Device> bs=4M

The name <Device> should be replaced by the device name of the microSD card. Typically, this will be mmcblk0 or sdb. Take care to enter just the device name and not partition names.

After transferring the image, you can start the Raspberry Pi from the newly minted memory card and log in with the username upri and the password changethedefaults!. Remember to connect the Rasp Pi to the Internet before booting; otherwise, the start will not be free from errors.

Afterward, you should switch to another computer with WiFi capabilities and bring up the list of wireless networks available in the area. The entries upribox and ninja-upribox should appear in this list (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Once started, the access points of the Upribox appear on the client computer in the list of available WiFi networks.

The upribox network incorporates a hardened WiFi that blocks advertisements and tracking software on web pages requested by the browser. The ninja-upribox WiFi handles all of the data traffic going out over the Internet by using the Tor network. This makes the user invisible and untraceable. Both networks have been preconfigured.

A precondition to permanent protection from trackers and ad networks is that the user maintain current filter lists. For this reason, upribox executes updates once every four hours. Not only do these updates include filter lists, they also include software updates that are automatically stored on the SD card. This procedure immediately closes all security gaps. In essence, this is a type of rolling release operating system that requires no user intervention.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 6

Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Raspberry Pi Geek

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Creating a 3G hotspot with the Raspberry Pi

    WiFi is available for free in so many public places that Internet access via a UMTS mobile cellular system would appear to be unnecessary. However, a Raspberry Pi with a UMTS stick can create a personal hotspot that creates independence from public WiFi networks.

  • Welcome

    Just more than four years ago the first Raspberry Pi was released to overwhelming response. Many people had to wait for their first-generation Pi while production was ramped up to meet the demand. Now you have an entire array of Pis from which to choose, and demand is still so high that you might have to wait for your computer on backorder immediately after a new model is released. Moreover, the quad-core Raspberry Pi 3 has broadened the possibilities of what you can accomplish with the little nanocomputer.

  • Expanded WiFi coverage with a Rasp Pi access point network

    A network of access points consisting of several Raspberry Pi computers provides an economical way to establish reliable WiFi access, even in difficult-to-reach areas. The resulting coverage is good enough that you can freely roam, even with latency-sensitive applications like video chat.

  • Raspberry Pi as a backup for a conventional PC

    Is the Rasp Pi only for hobbies and experimenting, or will it work as a replacement desktop system?

  • Testing anonymebox from pi3g

    Anonymebox lets you surf the Internet anonymously from any computer and any mobile device without installing and setting up Tor software on the clients.