Objective

Install Onionshare in Linux and use it to send files over Tor.

Distributions

This guide targets Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and Arch Linux.

Requirements

A working install of one of the supported distributions with root privileges.

Difficulty

Easy

Conventions

  • # - requires given linux command to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
  • $ - given linux command to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Introduction

Sharing files can be a pain. The larger the file is, the more difficulty it inevitably creates. If you want those files kept private, you're in for a real nightmare. Well, not exactly.

Onionshare is a relatively new application that allows you to share files of any size securely and relatively anonymously over the Tor network without the need for a "midde-man" website. It's completely free and open source, and it's actually easy for anyone to use.

Install Onionshare

Ubuntu

The developer of Onionshare officially supports Ubuntu with a PPA. Enable it on your system, and install Onionshare.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:micahflee/ppa
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install onionshare


Debian

Debian is in an unusual situation. Only the testing and unstable releases have updated versions of Onionshare in their repositories. Stable doesn't have it at all. So, if you're running testing or unstable, just install it. Otherwise, you're going to need to use Apt pinning.
# apt install onionshare
If you're on stable, create a file at /etc/apt/preferences, and place the following block in it.

Package: *
Pin: release a=stable
Pin-Priority: 1000

Package: *
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 1

Package: onionshare
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 1001
Now, open /etc/apt/sources.list. Add the following two lines in.
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ buster main
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ buster main
Save, exit, and update Apt. Then, install Onionshare.
# apt update
# apt install onionshare

Fedora

Onionshare is packaged and ready to install in the Fedora repositories.
# dnf install onionshare

Arch Linux

Onionshare is available in the AUR. You can install it from its page or via whichever AUR tool you prefer.


Sending A File

Now that you have Onionshare installed, you can start using it to send files. Start by opening up the program. It's completely graphical, so you'll find it under the "Internet" section of your desktop's launcher.

Onionshare Running
Onionshare Running
The window that opens up is fairly plain. It's just a small window with a big blank field taking up most of the room. To start sharing files, drag them into that empty space or use the Add button to select the ones you want to share.

Onionshare with a file
Onionshare with a file
When you have all your files ready, click the big green button to Start Sharing.

Onionshare Sharing
Onionshare Sharing
Onionshare will take a few seconds to get ready. Then, it'll present you with a unique .onion address.


Onionshare from Torbrowser
Onionshare from Torbrowser
Anyone with a Tor browser can access that address to download the file. So, send the address to the person that you want to share with. If you want to check it out for yourself, use the Tor browser to navigate to the address. You'll see your file there.

Settings

Onionshare Settings
Onionshare Settings
While Onionshare works great with the defaults, you absolutely can change your settings, if you choose. Click on the gear icon in the lower right corner of the Onionshare window. A new window will open up with the available options. You probably won't need most of it, but the upper left section has a few good things.

You can limit the time that your share is available, either by setting a time limit or telling Onionshare to shut down immediately when the file's been downloaded once.

Take a look at the other stuff, but it's not necessary most of the time.

Closing Thoughts

You're now ready to share files of any size securely over the Tor network. If you're genuinely concerned with security and anonymity, remember to share your .onion address over a secure channel, like Signal.
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