Tor browser in Whonix

I tried to set a homepage at Preferences -> General. the setting is saved but the browser keeps displaying the Whonix start page instead, ignoring my setting.

I guess I can edit the /usr/share/homepage/whonix-welcome-page/whonix.html file itself but looking in /usr/bin/torbroswer it seems as if the homepage set by the user is supposed to work.

running printenv, I don’t see $TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE as an environment variable.

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Add that environment variable to your .profile:

echo 'export TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE="www.startpage.com"' >> ~/.profile

Will take effect after next login.

To test immediately, add the variable using:
export TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE="www.startpage.com"
Launch torbrowser from same terminal:

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Looks like that wiki page could use an update.

I’m not sure which came first? @Patrick

Maybe TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE (/usr/bin/torbrowser) was a workaround until Tor Browser added native support for TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE? Also, whichever one can be sourced from ~/ would be preferable.

Did it work @torbrowser?



Looks like that wiki page could use an update.

I’m not sure which came first? @Patrick

I am not sure of the timeline.


  1. TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE a /usr/bin/torbrowser feature. Ignored when
    starting Tor Browser directly through

  2. TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE a TorButton feature. In theory better than
    /home/user/.tb/tor-browser/Browser/start-tor-browser but in practice
    there could be a bug in TorButton.

  3. https://github.com/Whonix/open-link-confirmation

One could investigate using git history and whatnot.

Maybe TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE (/usr/bin/torbrowser) was a workaround until Tor Browser added native support for TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE? Also, whichever one can be sourced from ~/ would be preferable.

TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE=about:blank torbrowser

TB_CUSTOM_HOMEPAGE=about:blank bash -x torbrowser

on a technically level results in executing

x-www-browser about:blank

Which goes through https://github.com/Whonix/open-link-confirmation,
i.e. shows a confirmation popup. Reminds me that it would be cool to
have a user configurable whitelist of links which will not be asked for

x-www-browser about:blank btw works for me.

TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE=about:blank torbrowser doesn’t work for me.

TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE=about:blank /home/user/.tb/tor-browser/Browser/start-tor-browser also doesn’t work
for me. So it’s not a /usr/bin/torbrowser bug.

There could be a non-Whonix specific TorButton bug: “If Tor Browser
prevously started when TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE was set and later changed,
on next Tor Browser start TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE is not adhered”. Anyone
up to investigate outside of Whonix and possibly report to Tor Project?

Setting the environment variable TOR_DEFAULT_HOMEPAGE to a custom
value. This would have a similar effect as setting environment variables
as outlined in Tor Browser Transparent Proxying.

What do we mean with the latter sentence?

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it works. it gives the confirmation popup. anyway to get rid of that? it doesn’t show with Whonix start page, and my homepage is a local file as well. no javascript plain html perfectly safe

when I click “New Identity” the browser opens the page in the settings

it can be very helpful i don’t want to use the bookmarks toolbar because of fingerprinting

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start with this post: TBB and Thunderbird and read to the end (including manual patch).

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Do you mind editing the Tor Browser chapter for this fix?

Will do after researching which env variable we should be using. Also will document skipping confirmation dialog.


Thanks entr0py - you are a technical whizz (a bit like 0brand), so any of your edits are very solid.

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The Whonix welcome page could do with an upgrade.

Whonix is getting quite polished these days code-wise, better security, more functionality and so on. But being greeted with a mid-90s mockup on every Tor Browser (re-)start detracts from the final product image IMHO. This is particularly true since Tor Browser is at the heart of the platform.

If I recall correctly there used to be a sexy, sleek Whonix welcome page a couple of years ago, but some Tor Browser change (?) broke the appearance, hence the flashback to the old school presentation. I don’t know about you, but every time it opens I feel like I’m back using Win 3.1 & Netscape Navigator is all the rage again :wink:

A rough analogy of the difference a good visual presentation makes is Qubes (yes, I know the example below is the broader desktop, but it has paralells).

Look at what the current (average) icons, menu presentation etc. is going to be transformed into here ->

And compare that to the current Qubes look. It goes from average to great, leaving the user with a sense of ‘more polished’, ‘they know what they’re doing’ etc.

I’m sure any survey here would strongly recommend a sleek change. If we can’t restore the old version, maybe one of the arty crowd would design something sexy and modern.

I also wonder about the white to green fade colour selection. Something more vibrant might work better also e.g. darker blue or something with a high res image of the whonix logo. (The designer crowd would know what works best from general design principles.) That font selection isn’t great either visually; there must be more modern open source options available.

While we’re at it, the “Whonix is experimental software. Do no rely on it for strong anonymity.” line should be reviewed at some stage. Is 7 going on 8 years later really still ‘experimental’?

Relying on TBB straight off the host is actually bad for ‘strong anonymity’, so I think that line underplays the strengths of the Whonix foundational design, particularly since you’ve had the input of a lot of strong devs over the years like Marek and co.

Yes, that would be very good. Help welcome.

Related: Whonix experimental for how long

In short:

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