Does Ubuntu Linux Really Need Antivirus Software? 03/04/08

One of the people who switched to Ubuntu Linux recently, phoned me asking what kind of antivirus they should have installed. Quite frankly, I’ve never given that a thought. I’ve used Ubuntu for some time and have never had any virus issues, ever. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Linux is impervious to a computer virus, rather I’m suggesting that (currently) it’s not an issue. As a matter of fact, I did a bit of research and found out that there are viruses, worms and malware that effect our Linux based systems.spacer_gif.gif

Needless to say, my original answer to this individual saying “I don’t think we need to worry too much about that”, was perhaps not the most accurate perception. Just look at these links which clearly list some of the nasties that can effect our Linux systems (and took less than 1 minute to find):

Viruses and Worms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_computer_viruses#Worms
Malware: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware
Viruses: http://vx.netlux.org/ (http://vx.netlux.org/vl.php)

Needless to say, I’ve since installed antivirus on my Ubuntu system. Partly because of what I’ve learned in research and partly for ethical reasons. Imagine if an email sent to you contains a nasty Windows-based virus. Well… not being Windows based, I couldn’t care less, but if I forward a message that contains that payload to a windows user, he or she is not going to be happy (and in my opinion rightfully so). A couple others who are Linux users disagree with me saying, it’s up to everyone to protect their own systems. Personally, I think that perception is a band aid solution (and not very ethical). Think of it this way, if someone surreptitiously installed software on your system to participate in DDoS, would that be okay, as long as it did not effect you? Of course not! So the same ethics should apply to preventing our “safer” systems form forwarding on viruses and other negative payloads. The point is, if you have a computer virus, you don’t pass it around. But what’s a quick fix?

After Googling around a bit, I learned that AVG has a good antivirus of Linux. (And there are many others). I picked AVG simply because it was easy to find and subsequently, easy to install.

The download link for the Linux version is here: http://free.grisoft.com/doc/5390/us/frt/0?prd=afl Ubuntu users should select the .deb version (currently 7.5.51). Save that to your system, perhaps the desktop. (I did this using Ubuntu Feisty, 7.10). After the download has completed, it’s a simple matter to just double-click the .deb file (in my case it’s called “avg75fld-r51-a1243.i386.deb”).

The package installer will begin (and ask for your password). The install is seamless, it’ll do everything for you.

To use the antivirus, you’ll find a new icon here: Applications –> Accessories –> AVG for Linux Workstation. Simply click on that and follow along. Very easy, and only took a few minutes to do.

For those newer to Linux, or those looking for a quick antivirus solution, I hope this post was helpful! :)

Update 1: I found a nice tutorial on howtoforge.com that shows how to install Avast, Linux Home Edition on Ubuntu Linux (Gutsy). From their site: “…although there aren’t many Linux viruses out there, this can be useful if you often exchange files with Windows users – it can help you to not pass on any Windows viruses (that don’t do any harm to Linux systems) to Windows users. avast! Linux Home Edition is free for private and non-commercial use…” You can use the tutorial provided by them here: “Virus Protection With avast! Linux Home Edition On Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon

Update 2: For those interested in a simple hands-on project, try this: Create a Linux Antivirus Server to Protect eMail – A Brief How to

[tags]linux, ubuntu, antivirus, discussion, malware, solution, avg, open source[/tags]

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80 Responses to this article

 
Rick March 4, 2008 Reply

Even now I don’t think that it is neccesary to use AV on my linux desktop. These virii are mostly aimed at small servers. These are often badly looked after. So if they are infected, they can be used to spread spam, windows virii, etc.

However if linux continues to develop in favor of home users, security will suffer from it. Linux’s first lines of defence, the file permissions and root account, prevent the unauthorised spread of virii on your system. However these security systems are anything BUT friendly to a first-time linux user. If these were to disappear in the name of useability, Linux would suddenly become way more vulnerable. Ubuntu made the first step in ignoring the root account and relying upon sudo to handle permissions. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ubuntu but this is one of the few things I don’t like about it because it is a double-edged development.

For now I still feel safe enough to run AV-Free

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 4, 2008 Reply

@Rick – You’re right! You’ve also raised a pertinent issue in that Linux based mail servers could forward such nasties on. So it seems to me you’ve isolated a very important aspect. I agree too; as a first time user, Linux can take quite a bit of getting used to. I remember when I started, I gave up on it a couple times (early Red Hat days). But returned with Fedora, Debian and finally Ubuntu. From my friends who converted to Ubuntu, they raised the same issue you pointed out (some of the configuration aspects being harder top grasp).

 
yochai March 4, 2008 Reply

A few thoughts on this—
There is a bit of controversy surrounding viruses and GNU/Linux.
From what I understand, there are only about 500 theoretical viruses for a GNU/Linux system. There are over 60,000 for windows systems. Any anti-virus software for linux (KlamAV, AVG, etc) DO NOT protect against Linux viruses; they protect against WINDOWS viruses. You see, of all the Linux viruses “out there” the majority are purely theoretical–written by college students and enthusiasts. This is not because fewer people use Linux; that’s a fallacy. The fact is that it is extremely difficult to write a Linux virus as UNIX systems run multi-user enviroments (specific permission sets are given to specific processes depending on the user). More than 60% of the internet is made up of Linux servers. Finally, the only reason that Linux Servers ever run anti-virus software is because they interact with windows machines–through samba, for example. They simply do not wish to help spread any viruses.
Now this is not to say that there aren’t a TON of security exploits out there—there are!

 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 4, 2008 Reply

@yochai – Thanks for the informative input and perspective. Your thoughts make a lot of sense! I think your input really clarifies a lot for the rest of us. Particularly the issue of “true” Linux viruses and that existing antivirus packages are primarily created for environments where cross-platform networking is required. (As a side note: The permissions/process/service issue was one of the harder ones for me to get used to).

Only 60%???? I thought it was higher than that!! Smiling here… Hee hee hee…

 
lefty.crupps March 4, 2008 Reply

First we, the F/L/OSS community, create free operating systems for everyone to use, and we’re shunned. Then we create great applications to run on our system, and we’re shunned. Then those apps get ported to Windows machines, and they’re occasionally used but often shunned. And now you want that we protect those users from their own ignorance?

I’m sorry, but there are great, Free (GPL) applications for every use, including an antivirus for Windows, ClamWin based on ClamAV; there are also no-cost AVs for Windows all over, including AVG for Windows.

If people are going to just willynilly click and open files on an unprotected, or underprotected, system after years of people telling them otherwise, its unlikely that their first malware app is coming from you (or whomever send the file from a safe Linux computer).

My CPU cycles do what I want them to on a Linux computer, and that doesn’t include protecting the world from themselves when we’ve been trying for years to get them to do just that. I’ll give them words, advice, links to apps and articles about protection, but not my own computer resources.

 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 4, 2008 Reply

@ left.crupps – Shunned? Then how is it that distributions (like Ubuntu) are growing in user-ship? How is it that Open Source applications are becoming more and more common? http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/top-100-of-the-best-useful-opensource-applications/

Shunned? NO way! Smiling here… :)

I agree that people need to educate themselves more!! And stop mindlessly clicking stuff. But… I also agree that people need to be informed of alternatives and given the resources to learn. As I think Rick and yochai also rightly pointed out, installing Antivirus on my system might in certain environments be a wasted gesture.

I think users in general really need to educate themselves. Shunned or not, your input is quite valid (“…willynilly clicking…”). At first your comment came across as negative, until I stopped and actually “listened” to what you said. :) ;-)

Oh… and by the way… I really liked your post about Synergy – Sweet! http://gnuski.blogspot.com/2008/02/quicksynergy-quick-howto.html

 
yochai March 4, 2008 Reply

thanks roger—
To further exemplify the inherited process argument, lets give an example:
You open firefox as a normal (ie non-root) user. No matter what you do from here, any program or file executed by firefox will only maintain your permission set; ie if you downloaded a nasty executable it STILL couldn’t hurt your machine as it only had the rights of the program that downloaded it— namely firefox, which is being run by you, the normal user.
That’s just a beautiful thing, fi you ask me.
by the way, check out wubi.
http://wubi-installer.org/index.php

 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 4, 2008 Reply

Ooooooh Wubi looks sweet! (I’ll try it out over the weekend!! – On an older Windows box).
Thanks for the follow up.
The “Windows Weenies” :) Hee hee hee… people at this end learned a lot from your input. And for that matter, so did I. ;)
Cheers!

 
lefty.crupps March 4, 2008 Reply

@Roger: Yes, Ubuntu and Linux in general is growing, and as excited as I am about that, people are moving there for (some of) the wrong reasons, I think. Eventually, however, they may come to learn about and appreciate the reasons FLOSS exists– namely, the GPL and the rights it gives.

But a lot of computer users are just that — users, who have no interest in becoming learners. And that really saddens me. Maybe this is overkill, but its like a new parent just having a kid rather than taking an interest in her (maybe overkill, not sure yet) ;)

Thanks for the comment on my post about QuickSynergy, I’m checking your blog now!

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 5, 2008 Reply

For anyone not familiar with FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software), commented by lefty.crupps, please see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOSS and here: http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_why.html

From experience, when I first started using OpenSource solutions, I thought I was doing it to get “free” software (because I had trouble affording proprietary software). At that time, I was not aware that I was getting a far more valuable commodity. Knowledge! Migrating motivated me to learn more (far more) and to garner a better command of technical/computer related things. It (in my opinion) liberated me from the “point-and-click” thought process, enabling me to think in innovative ways to arrive at a solution. Over time I found that the “community” at large are very generous in sharing information and solutions (including “fixes”). In my opinion, those that participate and/or drive the OpenSource community and its various projects are great people!

 
Qusai March 7, 2008 Reply

You know most of them are obsolete since Linux kernel updates right?

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 7, 2008 Reply

@Qusai – I do now. :) Read the input from yochai, it’s pretty good.

 
Fran March 8, 2008 Reply

Well I guess I’m bitter. I do not use an anti-virus on any of my Ubuntu boxes. Microsoft’s behavior is upsetting, and I find its OS’s substandard at this point.

Free and Open source software in many cases is the only viable competitor to Microsoft software. Between patent saber rattling, and charity involving windows somehow… Is just slowing Free Software uptake.

So I propose stop saving the Windows machines. Let them crash and burn. If the design is so flawed, they should fix the bugs.

Maybe some people will stand and take notice, and decide to make an effort to try something else.

 
George March 16, 2008 Reply

“Why GNU/Linux Viruses are fairly uncommon”

evilmalware 0.6 (beta)

Copyright 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005
E/17 |-|4><0|2z Software Foundation, Inc.

This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is
NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY, COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF IMPORTANT
DATA or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE (eg. sending thousands of Viagra
spams to people accross the world).

Basic Installation
==================

Before attempting to compile this virus make sure you have the correct
version of glibc installed, and that your firewall rules are set to `allow
everything’.

1. Put the attachment into the appropriate directory eg. /usr/src

2. Type `tar xvzf evilmalware.tar.gz’ to extract the source files for
this virus.

3. `cd’ to the directory containing the virus’s source code and type
`./configure’ to configure the virus for your system. If you’re
using `csh’ on an old version of System V, you might need to type
`sh ./configure’ instead to prevent `csh’ from trying to execute
`configure’ itself.

4. Type `make’ to compile the package. You may need to be logged in as
root to do this.

5. Optionally, type `make check_payable’ to run any self-tests that come
with the virus, and send a large donation to an unnumbered Swiss bank
account.

6. Type `make install’ to install the virus and any spyware, trojans
pornography, penis enlargement adverts and DDoS attacks that
come with it.

7. You may now configure your preferred malware behaviour in
/etc/evilmalware.conf .

SEE ALSO
evilmalware(1), evilmalware.conf(5), please_delete_all_my_files(1)

 
NickF April 7, 2008 Reply

ClamAV is available on Ubuntu repositories. To install:

sudo apt-get install clamav avscan

 
Flopbillion April 12, 2008 Reply

I agree with lefty.crupps on the pointlessness of running mail scanning av’s, if someone can’t be bothered protecting their pc, they should suffer for doing so… Even on my (rarely used) windows machine I don’t use an AV, I have something called a brain.

 
Bob Townsend May 5, 2008 Reply

As a system administrator, I have plenty of access of to laptops to use as I please. The problem is they are all 4 years old. So I took a discarded laptop and installed Ubuntu to see if Linux really is “ready for prime time”. I had zero Linux experience and I just learned as I went along. The thing that has impressed me the most is how much faster things ran on the Linux box compared to an identical machine with Windows XP and I started to wonder why? Is it the OS? Is it the apps? Or is it because I don’t have those processor intensive, resource hungry AV and Antispyware apps running on it?

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp May 6, 2008 Reply

@Bob Townsend – Funny you would mention that. I have an old P166 with 64MB of RAM. I loaded up Win 2000 and then Ubuntu 7.04. I thought the Win 2000 installation ran reasonably well considering the limited resources. I was surprised at how much faster Linux ran! I assume it’s an issue (in part) of extra driver information being loaded?

 
Tony May 14, 2008 Reply

I’m a recent Windows convert, although I have tried using Linux in the past (Suse, and previous Ubuntu versions). The things that put me off in the past were the difficulties installing as a dual boot, driver issues for existing hardware, ease of use (although admittedly this was more lack of learning on my part), and not having all the same software I had under Windows.

I’ve just installed Ubuntu using Wubi, and after having used it for a week or so I’m about ready to ditch Windows for good this time.

The only last sticking point I had was the issue of Virus/Firewall/Spyware software. Having read this article and the comments I realise that AV is not really needed. My webmail has AV included so any downloads will be scanned, and if any Windows users don’t have AV then that’s their problem.

My router has a Firewall, although I may still install a software one.

So the only other thing to consider is anti-spyware. Is there any spyware problems for Linux users (key loggers, malicious websites etc)

 
Dick June 21, 2008 Reply

I am a Windows user thinking of giving Ubuntu a try. I have read all the comments here and can’t help but wonder. As Linux continues to gain in popularity, wouldn’t one expect that Linux viruses would become more and more prevalent? Given my bad experiences with Windows, I want to make sure that I am protected from what I see as inevatable, which are Linux based viruses. Unless I misssed something, it appears that all the antivirus programs mentioned look for Windows problems, not Linux.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp June 23, 2008 Reply

@Dick – You might want to research what yochai was saying:

“…of all the Linux viruses “out there” the majority are purely theoretical–written by college students and enthusiasts. This is not because fewer people use Linux; that’s a fallacy. The fact is that it is extremely difficult to write a Linux virus as UNIX systems run multi-user environments (specific permission sets are given to specific processes depending on the user). More than 60% of the…”

I’ve never had a virus issue since I started using Linux. I do know that different services run with different accounts and different permission settings and access rights.

Also, you may want to read Joe Barr’s article here: http://www.linux.com/feature/60208 (He explains the issue in more detail).

 
Noam July 31, 2008 Reply

Hi There,
i really like your blog, very informative and useful.

I also installed an AV program on my ubuntu laptop, for the same reason you mentioned, to serve and protect windows users.

It is nice to know that inferior OS users are protected by superior OS users :-)

 
t.tim September 24, 2008 Reply

just stumbled across wanting to find out some answers regarding this topic. i am an average user or maybe more so a pc/win/os enthusiast new to linux for a little over a week. boy it opened up a whole new realm. got introduced by my local pc vendor as a random purchase copy on a cd for $1. after giving me a demonstration added it to the ram and an old video card purchase. had an extra system to use. i’ve heard stories but had no idea how refinde this os was. i now find myself going back and forth talking to everyone about it and asking people if i could install it on their machines.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp September 25, 2008 Reply

@t.tim – :) I had much the same experience. I had no idea how much variety and freedom there was in a Linux environment. Nice to hear someone else has similar experiences.

 
Param October 5, 2008 Reply

Hi, its a great great discussion. And is definitely going to help in taking the decision to install/not install AV in Ubuntu. But I have a similar kind of question like in Post#25 by Mr. Tony “So the only other thing to consider is anti-spyware. Is there any spyware problems for Linux users (key loggers, malicious websites etc)”. Kindly put some light on Spywares Issue in Linux as well. Thanks

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp October 5, 2008 Reply

@Param – There may be spyware for Linux, however I don’t see how it can possibly get installed on the computer.
Having said this, the only way I can envision spyware getting installed is if a person routinely surfs the web while logged into their Linux install as ‘root’. In other words, don’t use the root account to go web surfing.
If you surf the web as a ‘normal’ user (non-root), using Firefox, have your firewall activated. You should be okay.

Here is one firewall example:
http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/the-best-10-minute-effective-desktop-firewall-installation-for-ubuntu-linux/

 
Arind December 16, 2008 Reply

There may be spyware for Linux, however I don’t see how it can possibly get installed on the computer.
Having said this, the only way I can envision spyware getting installed is if a person routinely surfs the web while logged into their Linux install as ‘root’. In other words, don’t use the root account to go web surfing.
If you surf the web as a ‘normal’ user (non-root), using Firefox, have your firewall activated. You should be okay.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp December 16, 2008 Reply

@Arind – Right! :) (I learned this the hard way). I used to always be logged in as root and messed up my PC twice because of this.

 
Richard March 7, 2009 Reply

I have a question about a Dell Mini 9 lap top that will be mine at the end of the month. I need an answer pretty quick though and it is about the OPS, mine is coming with Obuntu Linux instead of Windows XP and that is all I am used to! I do not enjoy fooling around with operating systems and stuff. I just like to send emails and do word processing. This was ordered for me as a gift and I think I want Windows XP, what do you think I should do?

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 7, 2009 Reply

@Richard – If you are only familiar wit WinXP and do not enjoy, in your own words “…fooling around with operating systems…”
Then in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having WinXP on it – Until you are ready or feel that you want to explore new OS’s.
Hope this opinion is helpful in some way! :)

 
Richard March 7, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the advice, I called Dell and changed the order and got what I am familiar with. XP, I am just an email freek anyway so I will be a happy camper. Adios Linux fans and thanks

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp March 8, 2009 Reply

@Richard – Thanks and good wishes! You’re always welcome to return if you ever want to tinker and learn a bit more. The door is open. – Cheers!

 
tourist April 7, 2009 Reply

I would like to make the switch over to Linux, if someone could clarify how to pronounce it.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp April 8, 2009 Reply

@tourist – Do you mean really how to pronounce “Linux”? If so the video “Linux Pronunciation”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IfHm6R5le0 will help you.

 
tourist April 8, 2009 Reply

Thanks! Right after I posted that, I googled around and found I’m not the only one…so then I went ahead and installed Kubuntu ‘Line-x’ (all with ‘lynics’ ‘linex’ ‘leenuks’ bumping in my mind lol!) and found that there is NOTHING in that OS that I can pronounce AT ALL! But ok, so I suppose that is part of getting away from corporate america, is to learn new languages and peoples and stuff. I will -grep?- my way around… As of the Conficker outbreak, I have also learned that Linux is certainly not malware-proof, but enjoys something of a natural resistance.

Anyway, it will take some time, because I must use MS Excel with many years of homemade VBA macros, and as long as there is an IRS I am right now strapped to Intuit Quickbooks which has been a nightmare long term sentence, however, I see release on the horizon; I am gradually closing the Windoze and opening the doors.

The Linux/Ubuntu community immediately draws a sense of affection.

And I really enjoyed what George posted above, on March 16, this is on my fridge for a weekly funny.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp April 9, 2009 Reply

@tourist – Nice to read that you’re trying “lynics” I also find it interesting that as a brand new user you’re trying the KDE version of Ubuntu, I find most stick with the Gnome version.

I’m not sure but didn’t Intuit release a Linux version? I thought I saw some blurb go by about that a while back? No?

Also, I run a copy of windows in a virtual environment (with Ubuntu 8.04 as the host), that way I get to enjoy some of the Windows apps as well:

Part I: http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/browser-problems-creating-a-linux-based-virtual-box-part-1-of-2/
Part II: http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/browser-problems-creating-a-linux-based-virtual-box-part-2-of-2/

 
tourist April 9, 2009 Reply

Yeah, I loaded Ubuntu Portable once and couldn’t find anything – it seemed way to simplistic for my nature. I have an insatiable appetite for system internals but not a lot of time, and a quick search suggested Kubuntu might be more up my alley. So far ok. I’m intrigued to observe other converts and it kind of feels like coming home.

I believe only the Enterprise (aka big corp $3-$4-$5000 !!!) version of Quickbooks was ported to Linux. Anyway it is a horrible, horrible program.

‘Lynics’ still doesn’t feel right to me, a native english speaker who doubles in french & spanish, with a hint of latvian. Like, if I say ‘lynics’, then I must also say ‘vihris’, and then I just feel like a foreigner speaking english as a second language.

I guess we have gone off topic here. Thank you for the chat!

 
t0m5k1 April 14, 2009 Reply

i love linux for all the above reason

also to add to the virri issue try this

unix = grandad
possix/minnix = son/dad
bsd = 2nd son
linux = great son with prospects & idea’s also has fingers in many pie’s (networking)
windows = son/black sheep/b*st*rd/spawn of satan who masquerades as the big cheese!

with the above knowledge ask yourself again why windows has so many virii targeted at it

(note to geek: yes i know list is missing enteries but i had limited space & those mentioned are valid to this blog!!!)

 
spanish dave April 27, 2009 Reply

I’m sure that if Ubuntu (which I use) needed anti-virus software, the developers would include it as part of the distro. After all there is a whole bundle of software included with it.

 
Rod May 8, 2009 Reply

Hello all.

I’m a long time windows user and recent Linux convert.

My view on running an AV… People *should* be responsible for securing their own systems. I’ve always run a good AV and firewall applications, I don’t expect other people to protect me.

However… I have the knowledge to look after my self

There are Windows users out there that are ignorant. Which is defined as “Unaware or uninformed“, they may not possess the knowledge to secure themselves or the confidence to learn on their own. The may also be unable or not possess the capacity to learn this level of technical knowledge (my mum springs to mind).

So I do run an AV as I know people like my mum, who can only start Word from a shortcut on the desktop need as much help as they can get. Luckily for her I set up her system, however not everyone has access to resources like that.

 
john May 27, 2009 Reply

just ordered a dell mini 10v with ubuntu. never used ubuntu before but saw a dell linux spokesperson on youtube showing their updated ubuntu 8.04 video.

the desktop looks very cool and user friendly. i’ll be using this netbook for web surfing, IMing, some presentation stuff, word processing, listening to streaming audio.

should i expect any major difficulties in using ubuntu 8.04 and from what i’m reading in this discussion–i won’t need AV software since i won’t be switching to a windows based os. is that correct?

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp May 28, 2009 Reply

@john – No you shouldn’t need it. I’ve been using Linux for at least 3-4 years now and have NEVER had any concern about a virus. I currently use Ubuntu Linux 8.04 and have no issues at all. The only times I had difficulties was when I made changes or tweaks to the system without backing up first – In other words, problems I created for myself. ;)

 
NighthawkICH August 29, 2009 Reply

i agree wholeheartedly with your outlook on virus protection. “Its up to everyone to protect themselves” is complete bullcrap. Thats like Typhoid Mary wandering through a McDonalds spitting on everyone saying “Its up to you not to get sick”.

 
Greg October 9, 2009 Reply

I’m a fairly new Ubuntu user and do not know my way around the system like I do on Windows. Since I am running both OS’s on my network, I went ahead and downloaded the AVG Free Edition for my Linux system. However, you stated above, “To use the anti-virus, you’ll find a new icon here: Applications –> Accessories –> AVG for Linux Workstation. Simply click on that and follow along. Very easy, and only took a few minutes to do.” I haven’t found the icon yet, so I do not know how to launch the application. A little guidance please…….
Thanks !

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp October 10, 2009 Reply

@Greg

Which version of Ubuntu are you using?
Where did you get the AVG package?

Have you tried opening a terminal and issuing the command avast? If Avast is installed properly then the command will succeed in running Avast.

 
RTFVerterra October 11, 2009 Reply

Hi, I just installed Ubuntu Linux, this is my first time using Linux. The reason why I switch to from Windows to Linux are viruses and malwares. I always do reformat to my windows system every now and then because my system behaves like zombie and freeze to death, the reason: virus. I hope it will not happen to my Ubuntu installation.

 
John October 12, 2009 Reply

just one question… will this detect windows viruses too? or just linux ones?

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp October 12, 2009 Reply

@John

I’m no expert, but I’ve never heard of a Linux virus. I currently do not use it on desktops, only on mail servers.
Hope this helps.

 
John M October 12, 2009 Reply

@UbuntuLinuxHelp

ok thanks… i was just wondering if it is possible using a avg linux anti-virus…

since i have a storage drive and it seems infected by a virus on that worthless windows OS.. of course i want a clean storage drive and the virus that i got seems to be self replicating, i mean it creates a clone of itself…

right now it seems to stop when i’m using ubuntu… but it is making me paranoid and hoping it won’t affect my linux side or i was hoping to keep my mind at ease is to eliminate it using my linux OS + avg anti-virus software…

a bit off-topic… sorry

 
jwsmooth October 17, 2009 Reply

I installed Unbuntu to dual boot with Windows XP. Although there is much talk about the lack of need for anti virus software with Linux, believe at least some sort of anti spy-ware needs to be used used. After searching the web in Unbuntu, I have found that when I go back to XP there are numerous tracking cookies found by my anti spy-ware. I have since installed AVG anti virus software for Linux and a firewall. This still does not stop the cookies from showing up when I boot to XP. If it were not for the dual boot I would have never known there were tracking cookies on my computer. So yes there should be anti spyware for Linux.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp October 17, 2009 Reply

@jwsmooth

XP cannot natively read the ext2 or ext3 filesystem.
Your system is supposed (in many cases) to have cookies – They are often used for session control in dynamic web sites. For example I configure my browser to remove all cookies when I close the application.
Antispyware and antivirus are two different things completely.]
I have never ever had to install antispyware applications as I do not install spyware in the first place. The permissions system in Linux makes it somewhat immune to “warez and virus” attacks. Sure there are a few Linux based viruses, but again it’s problematic because of the permissions system. To be effected negatively by such thing, you would have to be logged in and operating your system as the root account! (Which one should never do, hence the need for commands such as sudo and su). :)
I work in an environment where the best protection is an antivirus device directly connected to the network (along with the firewall). ;)

 
Bijan Soleymani October 26, 2009 Reply

Viruses/Malware can do serious damage to the user without root access.

There’s a lot of talk about permission and how they will protect the user in Linux as long as they don’t run anything as root. But that doesn’t really protect the user, it mostly protects other users on the system. If I receive an executable it can do something like:
rm -rf ~/ (delete my entire home directory)
in a billion different ways. Bye bye years of data. Fine I can restore from backups, but that is a real pain… Sure /usr is safe, other users’ home directories are safe, but all my files are dead and gone.

Worse the virus/malware can open a TCP connection and send data to the cracker’s server. It could send him all my emails (if they are not encrypted) and any non-encrypted file I have access to. Again it can’t send him other people’s files, but do I really care about that or do I care about my personal data?

It can also install a server running on a port >= 1024 and listen and let the cracker log in to my machine. Ok this is with my permissions not root’s, but once the cracker has local access, there are often ways of compromising the system and gaining root privileges. If he can do that it’s game over for everyone! Yes I know a firewall can block this, but then you need a firewall and it is not installed/enabled on my Ubuntu/Debian systems by default.

So yeah if the user wants to be able to run executables from emails or from the internet they are at risk of all of that. I mean you can use public key cryptography and have the sender or the provider sign the package with their private key. But that just confirms that the sender/provider is really the one who generated that package, it doesn’t mean they are trustworthy.

Is there really anyone who knows all the people they get software from over the internet? Even software in source code form can do all this. I mean sure you can look through the code and find out, but there can be thousands/millions of lines of code. Sure if you get all your software from the Ubuntu or Debian servers you are fine, but I often find interesting software from other sources.

And there’s no easy fix. I mean I don’t want to be asked for confirmation by the OS each time one of my file’s needs to be deleted, or each time I make a TCP connection.

I could be wrong, and I’d love to see a system that could run arbitrary code with zero risk of hurting the user, I just don’t think that’s realistic.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp November 18, 2009 Reply

Perhaps the whole point of the security is being missed?

Unless a script can run the “sudo” or “su” command and then enter the appropriate password, so as to install on the system, it’s not going to get far at all.

I have been using Linux for several years. Not once, ever, have any of my Linux systems been infected with a Virus (or malware).

Additionally, I agree with other users being protected. If someone wants to run the command “rm -rf ~/” they are able to, as they are deleting their home directory. If they are insecure or do not know what they’re doing, trhen other users should be protected (that’s the point).

But again, in reality, I’ve never had to repair my Linux based PC’s (or those of my clients; who use Linux) from a virus (or malware) issue.

 
gustavo December 30, 2009 Reply

no recomiendo a los usuarios basicos que utilicen linux ubuntu
yo lo instale hace mas de un mes
yo tengo internet arnet con el moden huawei smartax mt 810
no pude hacerlo funcionar hasta el dia de hoy.
con esto no digo que linux es malo, pero para los usuarios de windows que estamos acostubrados a los programas que se instalan solo, no recomiendo que utilicen ubuntu, porque en cada cosa tienes que ir a un programador, yo lei que linux es muy bueno, pero como soy un usuario basico que utilizo windows desde hace años, por mas que fuera un sistema malo podemos usarlos los usuarios basicos.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp December 30, 2009 Reply

@gustavo

Lo siento por mi pobre español, no es mi lengua materna.

Tu comentario no está relacionado con este post (antivirus).

Usted menciona que Ubuntu Linux no se recomienda (por ti), porque tienes que ir a un programador, si quieres hacer algo …

Nada podría estar más lejos de la verdad, con respeto, su comentario es totalmente erróneo. Un ejemplo, mi padre, 88 años, cambió de Windows a Linux (Ubuntu) hace aproximadamente 2 años. Nunca usó otra cosa que Windows. Él ha tenido ningún problema. Varios de mis clientes (algunos con casi ninguna de Smarts de ordenador) cambió a Linux (Ubuntu), y todos ellos están disfrutando también.

Debido a que usted personalmente haya tenido problemas con su software y hardware, que es injusto sugerir que la culpa es de Ubuntu – En particular, cuando cientos de miles de usuarios están felices.

———————————

@ gustavo

Sorry for my poor Spanish, it is not my native language.

Your comment is not related to this post (antivirus).

You mention that Ubuntu Linux is not recommended (by you) because you have to go to a programmer, if you want to do anything…

Nothing could be further from the truth, with respect, your comment is completely wrong. One example, my father, 88 years old, switched from Windows to Linux (Ubuntu) about 2 years ago. He never used anything other than Windows. He has had no problems whatsoever. Several of my clients (some with almost no computer smarts) switched to Linux (Ubuntu), and they are all enjoying it too.

Because you personally may have had issues with your software and hardware, it’s unfair to suggest that the fault is with Ubuntu – Particularly when hundreds of thousands of users are happy.

 
jim January 6, 2010 Reply

I know lots of people think you do not need AV on Linux. They are all wrong. (1) It is theoretically possible to infect any OS. (2) It is true that Linux is built better than windows but it still can get infected. (3) Today I have a virus on my Ubuntu. In particular, when I print a file, specific letter get replaced by symbol. Instead Doctor I get []octor.
Don’t think like before 9/11, think like after 9/11, if somebody can think it, somebody will do it. We need to put more effort into writing AV.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp January 7, 2010 Reply

@Jim

That does not look like a virus, that is most likely the result of some configuration or related driver issue – possibly even an applications scripting issue.

Please read the valuable information in the comments from “yochai”

 
Gordon Laurie January 11, 2010 Reply

Glad I found your site. I am a very amateur computer person but have had the OPEN SOURCE as Ubuntu installed for the past 3 years. IT IS GREAT. I have not had any viruses during that time without any antivirus program installed. Your information about this matter was most informative offering good advice. OPEN SOURCE systems are gaining ground rapidly and with more installed I expect the “BAD GEEKS” will attack more in the future. However, from what my son-in-law (a computer developer who developed the software for the HP platform for one of the better known local network system – Novell) still believes that I am safe for a while yet. I understand that the better foundation of the Linux (like Unix) operating systems that are not BUILT ON SAND as is the MS system is much harder for the virus pirates to gain entry!! Perhaps in the future the weak system of MS will be replaced. This reminds me of the domination of the TV systems based on the US approach rather than the better European approach (better definition, somewhat closer to the new HD replacement that is ongoing now 50 plus years late). The MS system, with great marketing, has landed us with a similar standard that is inferior to what could have been accepted. THE WORLD MOVES ON

 
AJ February 21, 2010 Reply

Hello all,

fascinating thread, and well, lots of food for thought!

I have used Linux before, but as a novelty, rather than for practical purposes; I am a big geek *grins*

Having recently revisited Linux (and specifically mint and ubuntu distros)I have quickly seen vast improvements of system resource management, and usability (both over windows OSs, and previous linuc distros).

However, I am a graphic designer, and compatibility with windows and Mac OSs is essential! In my free time I find myself booting portable versions of Mint 8, partly because I prefer to use it, and partly because I find it more efficient.
For work I *cringe* need windows. For play on the other hand, I have every intention of booting from a portable USB hard drive when I can get hold of one (duel booting is sadly a risk I am not prepared to take).

THE QUESTION AT HAND:
How much of a security risk would you believe running a full install of a distro like Mint be in a portable environment?..

Thankyou in advance, I know the overarching Linux community is one of the most sincere and helpful I have ever spoken to, but I also can see this is a very old thread!

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp February 25, 2010 Reply

@AJ

What do you meant by “portable environment”? Do you mean it’s on a bootable USB thumb drive?

 
Musick X February 25, 2010 Reply

I am extremely impressed with everything that I have read today. I am 27 years old and have only been a player of the computing world for just under 2 years. In those 2 years I have gone from “beginner user” to “Advanced user/builder/repairman” of Windows based systems. One of the biggest things that impressed me today about this page is all the free knowledge that is passed around. I have been to countless Windows discussion forum sites only to read comments from a bunch of tech-headed @$$holes who degrade the poster for being a novice. I have fallen in love with the Linux/Ubuntu community for just simply being cool people who want to spread the word. ;) I have, just today, downloaded Ubuntu and am looking forward to checking it out on my ThinkPad.

The Question…

I am an Audio Engineer, Sound Designer, and Musician. I run DigiDesign Pro Tools LE beta on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. (1) Due to data protection purposes, would it be more feasible to run Ubuntu (for browsing, email, IM, FUN) on a separate computer rather than having both OS’s on the same computer? (2) I’m a nerd: Can I play World of Warcraft on a Ubuntu system ;) ?

Thanks for the time. I eagerly look forward to joining this community of respectable friendly people. (Whoot!!!)

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp February 25, 2010 Reply

@Musick X

Great to hear, cheers!

Personally, I prefer to keep Linux and Windows on separate boxes. I’ve never had issues with them dual booting on the same box or when one (or the other) was in a virtual machine. But… I keep them separate because I like to play, and invariably, when I play, I sometimes break things! So for me at least, it’s safer top keep them separated.

World of Warcraft, sorry I don’t play it, but maybe you can check out Wine? –> http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=application&iId=1922

 
Don March 23, 2010 Reply

I’m new to Linux and trying to get AVG Free installed. I followed your instructions like below, but I don’t have the AVG for Linux Workstation in the Applications –> Accessories when I go there after the installation. I’m using Ubuntu 9.10 and it should have installed it using the Package Installer. Is there something I’m missing? It doesn’t show up at all.

Your instructions I followed:

After Googling around a bit, I learned that AVG has a good antivirus of Linux. (And there are many others). I picked AVG simply because it was easy to find and subsequently, easy to install.

The download link for the Linux version is here: http://free.grisoft.com/doc/5390/us/frt/0?prd=afl Ubuntu users should select the .deb version (currently 7.5.51). Save that to your system, perhaps the desktop. (I did this using Ubuntu Feisty, 7.10). After the download has completed, it’s a simple matter to just double-click the .deb file (in my case it’s called “avg75fld-r51-a1243.i386.deb”).

The package installer will begin (and ask for your password). The install is seamless, it’ll do everything for you.

To use the antivirus, you’ll find a new icon here: Applications –> Accessories –> AVG for Linux Workstation. Simply click on that and follow along. Very easy, and only took a few minutes to do.

For those newer to Linux, or those looking for a quick antivirus solution, I hope this post was helpful! :)

 
CroppedKutty March 31, 2010 Reply

Hello everyone,

As a new user of Ubuntu I’ve been researching internet communities for advice on the anti virus issue. I’m delighted to have found this blog where information is shared so freely and with a real desire to help new/ less experienced users fix their own problems… major thanks!

The specific situation I’m in is this — in my university department we have a public access computer room with 5 (and growing) desktops which have been recently installed with Ubuntu so as to minimize system crashes and virus attacks. But most student users have Windows on their PCs/ laptops and we are all just beginning to learn the ways of Linux. In our situation it is inevitable that there will be a lot of emailing and use of flash drives to transfer academic and other material between the Ubuntu and Windows systems.

In the words of Rod (May 8 2009) above, given that “There are Windows users out there that are ignorant. Which is defined as “Unaware or uninformed“, they may not possess the knowledge to secure themselves or the confidence to learn on their own. The may also be unable or not possess the capacity to learn this level of technical knowledge” (and to get all users in a public access system to self-regulate is well nigh impossible) my question is this — What kind of protective/ anti virus/ anti malware steps should we be taking on our public access Ubuntu systems?

Thanks!
CK

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp April 3, 2010 Reply

@CroppedKutty

Maybe post a note explaining that it’s up to users to protect themselves? Unfortunately, there will always be some users who simply cannot or will not educate themselves, put them on notice.
I’ve used Linux for a few years now. I’ve no antivirus installed and have never experience a problem.

 
Gavin Smoulder April 26, 2010 Reply

YOU DO NEED ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE FOR LINUX
Hi,

Linux as you know donsent need anti-virus software think about the 1% of windows user who think that windows XP is sercure ITS NOT, its the same case for linux you need it to keep out hackers or use your computer as a zombie *Zombie Nosies*

 
Gato303co July 30, 2010 Reply

Thanks a lot for the avg linux link, I was using Avast Linux on Ubuntu 10.04LTS, it works at first, but after installing some updates, it stop working, I got error message “Avast engine: Argumento Inválido (Invalid Argument)” and in the Ubuntu Software Center got the message “We’re sorry but Avast Antivirus is not available for this version of linux” I guess I am using kernel 2.6.24 something like that … a new kernel means some programs wouldn’t work?

 
VectorZ August 11, 2010 Reply

I’ve been using an array of Linux and Windows flavors from the early 90s and believe today’s Linux is mature enough for the common joe. I even assisted with the Wine project. I prefer Suse but for newcomers recommend Ubuntu or Mint. As for and AV I agree that its all about self discipline from being a Clicky-McClicker. Never use an Admin or Root account as a common user account. This will save you more than you realize in headaches. There are many Free AV’s for Linux, Symantec, McAfee, Bitdefender, AVG, Avast and on and on. It’s entirely up to you as to what makes you feel safe.

@Musick X
As you will find out the Linux community has a solution or will find one for those with the greatest demands. What you should look at is “Ubuntu Studio” (Google it).

 
ifican August 21, 2010 Reply

Lots of good variants on the same topic. i agree with both sides of the coin and completely disagree with all of those users stating they have used linux for x amount or years and have no virus. My question to all of you is how do you know for sure you dont have a virus? How do you know for sure you dont have something running with the same file permission as you? How do you know for sure you havent been infected for x amount of years and just didnt know it? The short answer is we dont, we just accept a certain level of risk because we feel safer because we are but we should not let that feeling of security deter us from being safe. I run both AV and FW on ubuntu, i am more them happy to take the resource hit for the safety of it. I know its not perfect but its better then none. And i will tell you think i hit sites regularly that fire off the av engine. Now i dont take the time to see if its a windows or linux based bug. Most probably windows but its nice to know the protection is there regardless.

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp August 22, 2010 Reply

@ifican

Most AV applications DO NOT protect against a virus that attempts to target Linux.

I am one of those people who have been using Linux (Ubuntu) for years without virus issues. I think this is a case where some users are simply not aware of how Linux based systems function. As yoachi explained, it is extremely difficult to write a Linux virus as UNIX systems run multi-user environments (specific permission sets are given to specific processes depending on the user).

With regards to those who visit websites, (continuing yoachi’s dialogue), and think they might get a virus:

“…You open firefox as a normal (ie non-root) user. No matter what you do from here, any program or file executed by firefox will only maintain your permission set; ie if you downloaded a nasty executable it STILL couldn’t hurt your machine as it only had the rights of the program that downloaded it— namely firefox, which is being run by you, the normal user…”

Don’t forget, In Ubuntu (which is Debian based), we can use commands such as sudo or sudo su, as such we can visualize (in simpler terms) that web browsers, email apps etc, DO NOT run with root privileges.

Note: Bugs or exploits are another matter all together, and I’ve never heard or used a system that does not have to be regularly updated, because of such bugs and / or discovered exploits.

In the event that a Linux virus is introduced (last I read there was a very trivial number of them in the wild), it would be isolated to that user’s account. I might add also, that I’ve been working with many different physical and virtual web servers for clients over the years, they were all Linux based, all operating for several years and zero AV installed. The odd time that something has occurred, it’s almost always been an exploit in some package a client installed, and almost always because the client did not properly secure the package and / or keep it updated. As for virus activity? ZERO.

I’m not suggesting Ubuntu, or Linux users in general, throw caution to the wind, rather, I’m suggesting that common sense be used. Installing AV applications to protect other people is a personal choice.

Finally, I remember a couple years back purposely introducing every type of virus I could (there are tons to review when searching via Google), to an Ubuntu Linux test box, in many cases, the various installed AV packages did NOTHING when the infected file was accessed – More importantly, nothing happened to that box.

 
najem spletne strani September 20, 2010 Reply

Thank you for sharing AV link and explaining some fundamentals behind the Linux file system. I will still try anti-virus, because I don’t want any malicious code appear on my disc, even if it cant be executed. From Windows land experience, some paranoia still remains and as a control freak this helps me sleep better :O

Thanks for explaining!

 
Paulio October 4, 2010 Reply

Ye gods!

“I’ve been using Linux for years & have never had a virus…”

As Bijan said a year ago, you could quite easily have all of your documents deleted. That’s bad enough to warrant some kind of protection even if you only just backed up yesterday.

“It’s up to the user to protect themselves”

Exactly! It’s up to you to protect yourself. The assumption that something won’t happen just because it never has is a very dangerous one to make.
Once there are enough people poking away round the edges of the OS someone WILL find a way of ruining your week.

If you have anything on your system that you wouldn’t want to lose (even if it’s only the way that you’ve got the machine tweaked & running just the way you like it) I personally think that safe is infinitely better than sorry.

 
Grant November 20, 2010 Reply

Hello I’m fairly new to Linux after 2 wretched years of learning everything from scratch on Win7 and Xp. Tonight was my Epiphany when my newly online mate asked for help ashen white and trembling. After finding all fine with his laptop I realised Windows leverage is fear!

The ever present threat of Viruses,Spyware,Malware(deep breath!),defragging,updates,registry cleaning,more vital updates ad nauseum! Not Fun! Plus it’s MORE work than Linux ever is!

Windows users are SCARED of Linux! A whole new World of hurt to flinch from! Well enough is enough! I’ve had enough bullying! Ubuntu is STABLE very beginner friendly and secure. Windows DOES NOT DO IT ALL FOR YOU!

Brothers and Sisters I have left the Veal Crate! My friends all use Windows so I shall use AV after all it is hardly Gentlemanly conduct to infect your Lady Friends IMHO! LOL!

 
james February 15, 2011 Reply

I use a linux VM to browse on a windows machine – the antivirus is used to scan the folder that holds any files that will move to the windows host (files stay in the linux vm drive and then scan and copy to a shared folder if I want to open with windows) This arrangement has helped me to browse FREELY for months on sites that would bring a fully patched, AV/Spyware/Malware software protected XP machine to its knees. I know I shouldn’t go to that kind of site, but I WANT to and this is AMERICA – right?? It also helps me to see what kinds of clever triggers the bad guys are creating. Never get tired of being in linux and being told my C: drive is infected!

 
Manuel Fernandez May 6, 2011 Reply

Thanks for the info. Actually, I’ve already looked at AVG and have downloaded it. Have yet to install it (will happen today). Thanks again!

 
Preacher August 26, 2011 Reply

As Roger has endlessly pointed out: Very few of the already few Linux AV choices offer real-time protection. Their main purpose is to detect Windows threats.

Coding a Linux virus has to rely on a bug/exploit that rest assured that a security update will address in no time BEFORE you have the virus signature for your AV.

If you have very little OS knowledge you will know that even if your account is compromised you can use another to repair it if needed or easly recreate it in the worst case scenario (no OS is infallible). If a threat is well written enough that you have to recreate your account, then the chance of a AV to detect it is very little.

I’ve been using Linux for over 5 years and I know there have never been a threat on my systems in that time. I am one of those users that enjoyed of a divinely pure Windows box and taking those security and good practices to the Linux world ended up in a huge improvement of a yet healthy system.

The best of security suites can’t beat the lack of common sense ladies and gentlemen…

 
Steven October 5, 2011 Reply

My ubuntu 11.04 was INFECTED! My ports were open to the world. I had to scrap my os and start with a whole new distro. My setup was dual boot. windows with full service packs,updates,firewall, and antivirus;behind a router. I really only use my linux partition,but everything was infected. My windows was owned with all ports open.ubuntu had maybe 30 or 40 ports. Linux is getting popular; ubuntu even more so. Be warned. My antivirus programs did not catch it. My port scanners, vulnerability tests did. ALWAYS USE PROTECTION! Here’s an example of a devoloper hacked! http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Kernelorg-hacked/

 
 
UbuntuLinuxHelp October 11, 2011 Reply

@Steven
Windows was on that PC… Linux has a different permission system. As “yochai” pointed out:

“…it is extremely difficult to write a Linux virus as UNIX systems run multi-user enviroments (specific permission sets are given to specific processes depending on the user)…”

and

“…if you downloaded a nasty executable it STILL couldn’t hurt your machine as it only had the rights of the program that downloaded it— namely firefox, which is being run by you, the normal user…”

 
zia January 30, 2012 Reply

hello sir..i m new to ubuntu 11.10 …
i was wondering tht i have a usb which has my important documents and it also has a virus in it…so how can i be sure to get those documents out safely from the usb ..

thankyou

 
 
3vi1 March 22, 2012 Reply

The virus you speak of is a Windows virus, and won’t run on Ubuntu. Just plug in the thumbdrive and open the docs with LibreOffice.

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