Privacy and the XOs BrowseActivity

February 5, 2009 at 15:23 | Posted in Privacy/Security, XO | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As mentioned in earlier posts I have been looking into ways for users to increase the Privacy/Security stance of the BrowseActivity. My biggest annoyance in this field so far has been the lack of a way to clear cookies and the browsing history. I was further miffed to find that the BrowseActivity completely ignores some of the About:config settings related to the history and p cookies.

I have found the the following do work:

using about:config and setting:

network.cookie.cookieBehavior toΒ  1 will indeed block third party cookies.

network.cookie.lifetimePolicy to 2 will make all cookies “session only” clearing them when the browser closes.

The above two settings will only effect cookies that come in after the settings are changes third party and persistant cookies that came in before will be uneffected. But we’ll clear thous out in a sec.

you can control Java and JavaScript with:

security. enable_java and javascript.enabled . They can be set to true to allow or False to disallow either java or javascript. Keep in mind that the XO does not ship with a Java run time environmentso the effects of security. enable_java are meaningless unless you install Java. Disabling JavaScript will break many sites but is also a lot safer so you might what to write that down some place if you think you might ever take your XO to risky websites.

Now for the History and Cookies.. After some poking around I found that the XOs Browse Activity stores cookies and the history in sqlite databases. These can be tricky to track down, but not to worry. if you have a G1G1 XO. (I’m guessing that is most of you). you can:

open the Terminal Activity

Become root with either the “become root” button or by typing su – at the commandline

change back to the olpc directory with: cd /home/olpc

then type: find isolation/ -name places.* -delete

that will find and delete your browsing history (where you’ve been)

now type: find isolation/ -name cookies.* -delete

you guessed it, that will clear out all the cookies.

If I have the time I may write a quick Activity that will flush the cookies and the Browsing history, If I get really clever with it it might even be able to remove all of the “Browse Activity”s from the journal. But at least you have this for now.

If you are worried about Browsing privacy on the XO you might also want to check out my post on Privoxy on the XO

Happy and safe computing πŸ™‚



  1. HELP!!! This dosent work and is plugging up my memory! I am a G1G1 user but got .86 software! Please reply!

    • I think you mis-understood the purpose of the above. It was about privacy not clearing up disk space. This will NOT clear out the XO’s Journal this only deletes that cookies and list of visited sites that shows up when you type in a URL. You have to go through the Journal manually and delete all the “Browse” entries. You can blow away the entire Journal with the following:

      !!!!! WARNING!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!
      !! The instructions below will totally
      !! Erase the Journal in an XO. EVERYTHING
      !! will be gone. Save EVERYTHING you want
      !! to keep to a thumbdrive FIRST.
      !!!!!!!!!!!!Warning!!!!!!! Warning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Open the Terminal activity.
      Become root.

      ps -A | grep Journal

      hit enter

      This will print a line that looks something like:

      1234 ? 00:00:32 Journal <54323

      Take the first (left most) number and type the command:

      kill -9 1234

      Where 1234 is the number you found from the first command.
      This will stop the Journal activity. you can test if it worked by hitting the Journal button on the keyboard. Nothing should happen. If you end up at the journal you’ve done something wrong.

      Once you have stopped the journal activity type:

      rm -R /home/olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store/*

      and hit enter

      The command should complete without any output

      Hit ctrl-alt-erase to restart Sugar

      you now have an empty Journal

      If you have used the browser to download from non sugar friendly sites you may have files stored in the browse activities Isolation folder. The steps to clear that up are different.

      Hope this Helps

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