I want to migrate from Windows to Ubuntu.

I understand that Ubuntu's1 security model is a bit different than that of Windows but I don't aim to ask about this particular OS, rather, in general, what should I do to protect a Free and Open Source (FOSS) AND gratis operating system after I just install it.

1. and other *nix operating systems

  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 8:27
  • Why do you think that there is something special to do just because something is FOSS and gratis? Security measures depend on what you have as security architecture and what you need to protect from, not what the license or the costs of the system are. Commented May 9, 2022 at 8:40
  • @SteffenUllrich I am not sure if there is, I try to find out. Commented May 9, 2022 at 8:42
  • The term you are looking for is "hardening". There are many high-quality guides for whatever OS you use.,
    – schroeder
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Pretty much the same as with any other OS

Just the fact that it's open-source doesn't change anything for the end-user. Sure, you could read the source code and build the distro yourself, but unless you know how to read C and don't value your sleep schedule, reading through the Linux kernel and compiling it yourself isn't something you're realistically going to do.

Or, to put it bluntly: Your browser is likely open-source too (to some degree), and I'm very certain you've never bothered looking at the source.

Reduce attack surface

One of the first things to do with any OS is to reduce the attack surface. Disable services, which you don't use. Specifically, services that expose open ports or otherwise allow an attacker to communicate with you.

At the end of this step, only the things you actually need should be running.

Configure automatic updates

Ubuntu and the majority of commonly used Linux distributions come with a package manager of sorts, which can be configured to install updates automatically. This is generally something you want to do - at least in regards to security updates.

Harden individual components

Depending on the use-case of the system, you may want to have some components enabled, which can be potentially insecure - for example, ssh.

It's impossible for me to list every single thing you may want to have on your server, or how to set it up properly, but a simple search in your search engine of choice for "linux hardening" will likely yield several useful results.

Encrypt if necessary

On a laptop or other portable device, using full-disk encryption is definitely worth considering. It's much more likely that such a device can be stolen, simply by virtue of being portable, and thus encrypting your storage is a worthwhile idea. While many thieves will only be after the device itself and will re-sell it as-is, it may also come into the hands of someone tech-savvy enough to attempt to read out your data and see if you have anything of value on your laptop.

On the other hand, if you have a desktop computer, then the chances of it getting stolen are comparatively low. I personally don't bother encrypting data on my computer at home. If someone breaks into my home, then whether or not they will have access to pictures of my 2016 summer vacation is pretty low on my list of worries.


One common word of advice you hear repeated often in the Windows world is that you should always use an Anti-Virus software. But not just any - you need to use the best and most expensive one, because if you don't, your computer already belongs to "the hackers".

In reality, AV software likely won't do much for you as the end-user. If your PC doesn't get infected, then you can't know if it's because AV or not, and if your PC does end up getting infected, then the AV provider will tell you that it's not their fault.

In my opinion, you can do without AV software and just use common sense.

  • Anti-Viruses can be be pretty useful for non-tech savvy users (mainly because their common sense often differs from ours). But you should never pay, the free tier of any reputable AV is good enough.
    – nobody
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 9:27
  • @nobody Ehh, it depends on the user. I've personally seen cases where non-tech-savvy users engaged in very risky behavior, precisely because they had an AV. It's similar to how there were more traffic fatalities once the seatbelt became mandatory. But all in all, I am not a big fan of AVs, because they tend to cause more trouble than good.
    – user163495
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 10:43
  • One of you might want to recommend a particular anti virus for Ubuntu, or I should ask a separate question about this. Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:14
  • @askerie They're all terrible, but ClamAV is at least open source and not very intrusive
    – user163495
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 21:34

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