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I have a Windows and a Linux machine.

In Windows, everytime I visit a site, a lot of cache/history files are created on my machine. I setup my Firefox to don't save anything.

...but Windows saves a lot of "temp" files, some filenames I opened for example are inserted in registry (like video names). Each video I open in VLC is shown in "Last shown videos". In windows, all files opened can be found at "Recent opened files" as well.

A lot of these privacy configurations can be tweaked (VLC and "Recent opened files" in Windows) - it's a PITA doing it individually, but it's possible - but there isn't a guide to these "internal" privacy traces that are left on Windows installation (inserted in registry for example)

In Linux, I just know there are these problems in app level (like VLC), and in "system level "(like bash_history).

My question is: is there a complete guide to avoid undesirable traces of what I did/watch/used in my Windows machine? (Delete everytime the PC is restarted, or even avoiding recording these info at all).

(I'm mainly interested in config made by Windows itself when installing software and writing to registry. A guide with configuration guides to different types of software is a bonus, I know it's impossible to have a complete guide for it).

I would like to know about Linux privacy pitfalls as well.

I'm not interested in a VM machine, since I want to be able do control these issues in my own host and understand the privacy risks involved.

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Does this happen if you invoke the Private Browsing mode? –  BillThor Jun 7 '10 at 16:26

5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would like to know about Linux privacy pitfalls as well.

You can address Linux privacy questions through encryption. For example, this link allows you to encrypt your home directory and swap partition with Luks (Linux Unified Key System). Ubuntu 10.04 also offers to encrypt your home directory on install.

Running the following script on shutdown will clear all unused space on a parition, including delete files:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/partition_name/tmp_file; rm -f /partition_name/tmp_file

You have to substitute "partition_name" with the mount point directory of that partition, and run it for each partition that may save personal data.

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Although this doesn't answer my question entirely, at least has practical advice. I'm going to google around to see if I can find such a guide. Thanks! –  Somebody still uses you MS-DOS Jun 16 '10 at 12:22

How could such a guide possibly exist? It is all completely application dependent and there are thousands of applications that could potentially store this type of data.

If you are really that paranoid, you could always make an installation of Windows with an unattended file or a kickstart install of Linux and just reinstall your machine regularly.

Be aware that deleting these things from your local machine doesn't mean much if it's illegal content you are concerned about. There are probably logs of it in dozens of places between the source on the Internet and your computer.

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Since most things in Linux store their settings in your home directory in hidden files what you might try doing is turning your home directory into a SVN/GIT/Mercurial repository. Then you will see what has changed as a series of diffs and you can commit "good" configuration and revert "bad" configuration as appropriate.

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For Linux exists some ways to accomplish such a thing:

  • Link your home directory partly against /dev/null (f.e. .mozilla -> /dev/null)
  • Create your home directory in a pure RAM-Disk (will get destroyed at every shutdown)
  • Use the Ubuntu Guest-Session-Feature
  • Use a LiveCD

As MarkM said, this is completely application dependant and hard to do.

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I think the easiest way is to start a virtualmachine on a usb thumbdrive and then enable 'undo disk', and discarding the change every time you end the session.

I think at least Virtualbox support that. Given the current virtualization technology this should not be a big performance penalty.

for linux most common culprit is .bash_history if you ask me

-bubu

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Yeah, that's what I was asking, concrete examples. In Linux you have .bash_history, I'm looking for more examples and maybe a guide with all these deafult structures about privacy in both Windows and Linux. –  Somebody still uses you MS-DOS Jun 7 '10 at 16:16

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