How to Install Gufw to Graphically Configure Your Ubuntu Linux Firewall


by Lonnie Lee Best
Lonnie Lee Best

Gufw is an excellent Linux firewall configuration tool that is free and open source. I recommend it to become the default firewall-configuration-application in all desktop Linux distributions (that rely on iptables).

A default installation of Ubuntu 9.04 comes with a firewall called iptables that is pre-configured to block all traffic initiated from external sources, yet it allows you to establish connections with external destinations as long as an application on your computer initiates it. However, some applications require certain additional ports to be open, other than the ports that a particular one of your applications initiates over (bit torrent applications such a Vuze and file sharing applications such as gtk-gnutella for example). In these cases you'll need to configure the firewall so that externally initiated traffic can communicate with this application over the port (or range of ports) indicated in that application's help documentation or settings menus.

Since configuring iptables requires you to edit a text file in an unforgiving exact way, first, a command-line utility was created (called ufw) to simplify the configuration of the iptables firewall, and give you a little feedback during your configuration attempts. Then a GUI (graphical user interface) (called Gufw) was created to transparently automate the command-line interface ufw, so that a new linux user can open ports intuitively, without knowing ufw commands or iptables specification!

Before I discovered Gufw, I used Firestarter as a GUI for configuring my Linux firewall. I liked Firestarter because it allowed me to monitor blocked traffic, but I didn't like that I had to edit my preferences each time I switched network devices (sometimes I have a wired connection to the internet, and sometimes I have wireless connection; each time I'd switch, it required me to manually specify which device was was currently providing the internet connection, before I could run Firestarter). Additionally, sometimes I'd open ports with Firestarter, and they'd remain closed (and it wasn't due to another firewall upstream from me either).

In Ubuntu 9.04, you can easily install Gufw from Ubuntu's "Add/Remove" software manager.

Install Gufw

  1. From the "Applications" menu, select "Add/Remove". This will bring up Ubuntu's applications manager.
  2. Select "All available applications" from the "Show" drop-down menu (located in the top-right corner of the applications manager.
  3. Type "gufw" in to the search box (top-left) and press <enter> on your keyboard.
  4. Click the check box next to "gufw" in the top-right pane. You'll then be asked if you want to install it.
  5. Click the "Install" button.
  6. Click the "Apply" button.
  7. Confirm you want to apply the installation by clicking the "Apply" button.
  8. Authenticate. Type in the your password. If your account has administrator privileges, Gufw will then be downloaded and installed.

After you install Gufw, you'll find it in the applications menu: System > Administration > Firewall Configuration.

From there, I like to right-click on it, and select "Add this launcher to panel". This puts its "Green Shield" icon on the quick launch panel at the top, so that Gufw is always a point and click away.



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About the Author

Lonnie Best has been using the internet since 1993, and has been making web pages since 1995. visit: www.lonniebest.com



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