(Moved from Ask Ubuntu because they said it'd fit more here.)

I'm completely aghast at the lack of parental controls in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and how even Ubuntu.com's suggestions are so out-of-date that some are impossible now. I'm setting up a computer for my cousin, and his father doesn't even know what an OS is; he just wants to make sure his 8-year-old kid is safe on the computer.

I need something that will:

  • Be very easy to use, to the point that this uncle who does not know what an OS is will be able to use it.
  • Allow general computer time to be limited
  • Allow internet browsing time to be limited (might also cover most of the above point)
  • Allow sites to be blocked without manually maintaining a list (i.e. "Block all PG-13 or higher websites")
  • Allow specific sites to be whitelisted (e.g. "*.youtube.com/*")
  • NOT set up or connect to a proxy or alternative DNS, as they're with Comcast, who's historically been very keen to drop service at the slightest hint of alternative internet usage. Additionally, I don't want to be called back because something isn't working right for the whole family. The ideal solution just affects this one computer.
  • Allow application access to be limited (searching, installing, and running)

Essentially, I want what Windows has, but in Ubuntu.

I can't use something like:

  • Timekpr, Timoutd, or Nanny, as these are no longer available or supported
  • OpenDNS as I don't know how Comcast will treat that. Even if there are now laws about data equality, I can't be sure Comcast won't find some loophole. Further, it doesn't accomplish any of the time- and application-based requirements listed above.
  • Scrubit because their modem/router is rented from and thus owned by Comcast. Also the ease of use thing.

I'd like to keep the answers to 16.04 LTS until the next LTS release comes out (presumably 18.04)

  • Wow, an entire bounty without a single comment or answer. This must be impossible!
    – Ky -
    Jul 15, 2015 at 22:48
  • This spawned Ubuntu bug #1501816.
    – Ky -
    Oct 1, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    You can use OpenDNS if you so choose. What do you mean by comcast will find some loophole? More likely that your kids will find some loophole! (but not an 8 year old).
    – Menasheh
    Jul 20, 2016 at 21:17
  • timekpr-revived seems to be supported in 16.04.
    – krlmlr
    Sep 18, 2016 at 18:31
  • I easily find loopholes in Family Safety all the time.
    – user27945
    Nov 22, 2016 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


I believe I have found a way to do what you are searching for. And I wanted to mention, timekpr is still supported, the only issues I had happened when I used the official repository or the .deb files, but when I used a specific PPA I found, it works just fine for me. Anyway, here's the solution.

Time Limit

Install the newer version of timekpr:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjasnik/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install timekpr

Once installed, go to the Dash and search for timekpr and launch it (all I had to type was "time" until it showed up, so it's not that hard to find). It will ask for the admin password, then you will see various time options, such as saying that "a user can only access a computer for 30 minutes everyday", or you can configure it something like "a user can use this computer anytime between 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM". One thing I do want to mention, however, is that before you change any settings, you must select the option box on the right side of the window (level with the big lock icon) and choose the user you want to configure.

Once done adjusting those settings, click save, and you will have successfully set up a time limit.

Web Restrictions

I don't think there is a utility that you can use that doesn't use DNS or Proxy, but if you are using the firefox browser, the LeechBlock Addon for Firefox could be helpful, although it would not allow for very flexible restrictions. You can give it a password so that no one else could get into it, and then that user couldn't enter the sites you specify. You could also just restrict whole domains, such as saying that you don't want your cousin to access YouTube because you can't filter it's data, or you can (sometimes) filter sections of websites; for example: suppose a website has an 18+ section, and the link to it was somesite.com/eighteenplus, if you blocked this, nothing on that website that was under the "eighteenplus" folder of the site could be displayed, while at the same time, you could whitelist somesite.com/forkids/ so that the user could access this part freely.

Application Restrictions

See this question: https://askubuntu.com/questions/548568/how-to-block-specific-apps-from-opening-in-specific-accounts

That's pretty much it. Let me know if you have any problems or need any more help.

  • What if the uncle wants to change the permission? Will he gave to defer to me?
    – Ky -
    Dec 9, 2016 at 18:24
  • If the uncle wants to change the permissions, he may need to be taught how to, and he will have to know the administrator account's password. Dec 9, 2016 at 18:25

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