Different people have different perceptions of parental control software. But most people think that this type of software should be used to monitor the activities of the children. The Internet is a world of everything. Most of the contents of the internet are not suitable for children.
Moreover, they are always curious about different matters, which could lead them to distract from their path. If you think that your child is consuming only kids friendly content, excessive screen time is a serious matter that you should be concerned about. These are the cases when parental control and web filtering software come in handy.
They allow you to control their screen time, content type, accessible websites, and many other aspects to protect them against distractions. Linux comes with some great parental control settings, just like any other major operating system. But if you want more advanced controls, then there are some Linux parental control tools you should check out.
Best Parental Control Software for Linux
Choosing the best software for any specific task is the most confusing part. Besides, there are both paid and free tools available on the internet. In terms of free tools, you can have some trials and errors to meet the sweet spot.
But before spending money on software, you should be well aware of the functionalities. Here we have enlisted 10 Linux parental control software that we think are the bests to protect your beloved kids. One of them should meet your very own requirements. So, check them out.
Timekpr-nExT is free-to-use screen time limiting software for Linux. It has a beautiful GTK based graphical user interface for the controller dashboard. You can use this on any major desktop environment. This tool can limit the usage time for different accounts and log them out automatically after the session expires.
It provides a separate user dashboard for individual accounts to track their remaining time right onto the desktop. You might have heard the name of the famous parental controlling tool for Linux named Timekpr revived. After the retirement of that tool, Timekpr-nExT came as a fork with some additional features.
Key Features of Timekpr-nExT
- It features three individual modules named Server, Client, and Admin for different types of user accounts.
- The admin can set different time intervals for different days of the week. The time is measured precisely by saving on the memory.
- This tool can automatically exclude inactive sessions for a certain account to compensate for the lost time logging into another account.
- The administrator has got full control over adding or subtracting duration even after creating the schedule.
- The tray icon will constantly show the metrics so that the user account can be aware of their remaining time for that session.
2. GNOME Nanny
GNOME Nanny is a pretty old Linux parental control software designed for the GNOME desktop environment. But it works smoothly on any Linux distribution. This is mainly a web filtering software with some additional capabilities.
This tool is not updated regularly for a long time. But this thing offers so many features that it can still beat most modern parental controlling tools. Besides, the graphical user interface of this tool is very helpful for non-tech parents.
Key Features of GNOME Nanny
- You can limit the desktop usage time for a specific user account.
- The parents can filter out specific webpages and their usage time on browsers, emails, and instant messaging apps.
- The user interface is a bit outdated but very intuitive and easy to understand.
- You can even import your blacklisted websites from other systems to this tool for easy setup.
This is a completely free and open source web filtering tool for Linux-based distributions. This tool is not meant to limit the offline usage of your computer. Rather it provides a bunch of network and security-related features as a bonus addition.
Apart from a specific list of domains and URLs, this tool can block content based on phrase matching and related artificial intelligence algorithms. You can use this tool to meet your specific needs from their Github repo if you are a developer.
Key Features of E2guardian
- It has advanced features like the manipulation of web cookies based on header analysis.
- You can limit the uploading and downloading file size, and that is very convenient when you are using a metered connection.
- Based on the severity, you can divide the URL list into three categories: white, grey, and black.
- This tool can even filter images in Google search, and it has prevention against other bypassing.
Privoxy is yet another web filtering software tool intended to use for parental control. It is a veteran tool in the world of web filtering, and this is completely free to use. This tool can control web access and manipulate requested data for the safety of the children.
The iconic feature of this tool is that it gives the administrator the flexibility and customization of installation. In most cases, you can configure Privoxy by using the web-based dashboard. You can even use this tool for firewalling your corporate office.
Key Features of Privoxy
- It can manipulate website content by replacing texts, banners, images, etc.
- The built-in ad blocker can hide distracting and adult ads shown by different auto ad networks.
- You can configure this tool separately for different users, and the configuration file is always kept separate from each other to prevent overriding.
- You can develop an HTML-based dummy webpage from templates to show when someone wants to enter a blocked website.
WebCleaner is a Linux parental control software for restricting web usage. It has a built-in HTML parser written in C programming language capable of filtering some modules like advertisements.
Key Features of WebCleaner
- This tool can eliminate the heavy animations of GIF and other similar file formats.
- It can be integrated with another popular web filtering tool SquidGuard to blacklist abusive sites.
- WebCleaner can fix the security flaws of any website. Besides, it can create HTTPS-based secure connections when needed.
- It uses gZip archiving software for compressing files to reduce bandwidth usage.
WebContentControl is a simple yet powerful tool for parental controlling web activities. It has a straightforward graphical user interface that is used to configure the tool. This package includes an installation wizard for installing some additional tools like TinyProxy, FireHOL, etc.
You can easily turn on these additional networking tools by using the GUI of this software and perform parental controls. This tool changes the config file for each user. It can even backup and restore the config files while installing or uninstalling the tool.
Key Features of WebContentControl
- It can generate the configuration files automatically for TinyProxy, FireHOL, etc., networking tools.
- This tool can lock the proxy settings for Firebox and some other browsers to perform SSL filtering.
- It primarily supports two individual URLs or domain listings for blocking them.
- This tool can filter out specific IP addresses and their contents by scanning HTML headers.
SquidGuard is a free parental control software for Linux. It is an add-on to the original networking tool Squid. SquidGuard is used for URL blocking and performing some other web filtering operations with Squid.
This is very lightweight and runs smoothly on any configuration. It features many configuration options such as time and date, group sources, group destinations, access control listings, etc.
Key Features of SquidGuard
- This tool can create a URL blocking database from some selected expressions.
- It has strong protection against bypassing block lists by entering the IP addresses.
- You can customize the page that will be shown instead of a blocked website.
- It can manipulate website data differently for different types of users of the computer.
As the name suggests, this software is quite similar to GNOME Nanny but with a different flavor. This tool was originally developed for Linux Mint that is commonly used in home computers and media centers. But it can be used in other distros as well. Function wise this is pretty basic software.
Although you can block unwanted domain names using the intuitive graphical user interface, you can not block IP addresses like other advanced tools. But for your child, it is enough because, in most cases, they are not smart enough to enter an IP address.
Key Features of MintNanny
- This tool can block domains and URLs so that your child can not enter abusive websites.
- The user interface is quite simple and minimal looking.
- You can redirect the domains to a null IP address.
- This tool is very lightweight and doesn’t use that many computer resources while running.
DansGuardian is a simple and easy-to-use software for parental control. It works just like the guardian angel to protect the kids from unwanted web activities. This tool was developed by SmoothWall.
Though this is outdated freeware for Linux, it is quite capable of doing its job. There is a commercial tool with some additional functionalities by the same developer named SmoothGuardian.
Key Features of DansGuardian
- It can use separate proxy servers for blocking websites and abusive content.
- This tool has additional virus detection capabilities for protecting your crucial data against attacks.
- It can block websites from your customized lists of URLs.
- Apart from this, it can scan and understand some words and phrases for filtering content.
This is an open source parental control tool for your computer. PeerGuardian is the successor to the popular veteran web filtering tool named MoBlock. This is the unofficial fork for Linux and is loaded with many useful features.
The original developers of this tool are not actively maintaining this software. So use this with your risks. If you are concerned about your security, then you can always modify the source code and build your version.
Key Features of PeerGuardian
- It uses a huge database of blocklists containing a wide range of IP addresses for blocking websites.
- It has a built-in list editor for managing multiple lists that can update automatically.
- PeerGuardian is specialized for securing your data while connecting to a peer-to-peer network.
- This tool can block all of the IPv4 addresses, including TCP, UDP, etc.
The Bottom Line
Well, Linux is considered the most secure platform for networking. On the other hand, the Linux distros offer much flexibility and freedom to the users. The combination of both has some obvious pros and cons. Your child may be exposed to a huge world of negativity while using computers and the internet. Most of the above list tools are web filtering software, while some are intended for resisting the offline usage of your Linux machine.
Hence, using computers and the internet from an early age helps develop the children’s mind and outlook, you shouldn’t always keep them away. For this reason, you may use one or more parental control software from the above list to control the usage. If you have any other recommendations for parental controlling tools, then you can comment below to let others know.
I use pi-hole to help shield from unwanted ads IP requests track long-term data black lists and much more. It does this from a router level on the network, so anyone connected to my network even my wifi gets the protection, not just the kids. it can even function as a router if you so choose. It is recommended to use a dedicated raspberrypi + micro sd card or other minimal computer systems that can run raspbiOS 24/7 alongside your router. That said it really isn’t resource intensive I think a raspberry 3b or 3 would work fine, just use it for this one task though. Step by step setup and install and wonderful online user interface once you have it up and running. Also, free and open source with amazing contributors adding functionality all the time, consider a donation if you do end up using it, they deserve it. It really is a great project, and as a parent, it is my front-line defender on my home network protecting my family.