How to Use Parental Controls on Ubuntu Linux

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The Internet serves as a vast reserve of knowledge and information. From the latest news to funny videos of cats playing pianos, pretty much everything can be found on the World Wide Web. However, the dangers of the Internet are rarely talked about openly.

The Internet is a wide-open jungle that pretty much everyone can explore in any way possible. Without restrictions of any kind, the freedom offered here is a complete opposite of the constrained lives we live on a daily basis. This freedom though, in the wrong hands could be very dangerous. Kids often accidentally stumble upon violence, pornography, and other things that are inappropriate for their age. This is where the need for parental controls comes in. 

Parental control ensures that kids can browse the web with complete freedom but without stumbling upon any of the bad stuff. In this article, we will outline some simple yet effective tools that will help you create a safer browsing environment for your kids.

Method 1: Using OpenDNS

This is the simplest and the fastest way to block any unwanted content reaching your web browser. OpenDNS, once configured for your router, will help you secure your network against most known adult-related sites. Simply set up OpenDNS using the instructions given HERE or contact your system administrator to help you set it up for you. Once it is up and running, simply set the filtering to ‘moderate’ from the accounts settings menu. This will block most adult websites. However, if you want to go a step further, you can set it to ‘high’ which basically blocks most of the sharing, social, and webmail services all of which may or may not be suitable for your kids. 

Method 2: Using the 'hosts' File 

A quick way to block particular site(s) on your Ubuntu desktops is by making changes to the 'hosts' file. 

Step 1: Open the terminal using the Ctrl+Alt+T combination or by looking for it in the Dash menu. Then take a quick backup of your hosts file by typing in the following command: sudo cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts.old

Step 2: Now that we are on the safer side, let us edit the 'hosts' file by adding the sites we need to block.

Let's say you wanted to block Open the file in the text editor: sudo gedit /etc/hosts

Once the ‘hosts’ file opens up, type the following to block Yahoo! from your computer:

Step 3: Press Ctrl+S to save and you are done. 

You can add as many sites to the list as you want. Remember not to make any changes to what's already there in the file. All you have to do is append your sites to the list. 

Method 3: Using Google Chrome

If you are a Chrome user you can install a simple extension called Blocksi that helps you block potentially harmful websites. The extension scans through 76 million rated web sites, and more than 20 billion rated Web pages to help you maintain safety as your kids use the web. 

Method 4: Using Timekpr

Timekpr is an application that won't help you block sites but will surely help you limit the amount of time the kids spend on the computer. With a neat access limit feature, Timekpr would automatically log the computer out when a particular time limit is crossed. Though not that stable, it is a great tool you can add to your repertoire if you want complete control over your computer.