Introducing mintNanny


One of the features Mint has been lacking as a family desktop is the ability for parents to prevent their children from accessing certain websites. Parental control is easy to set up in Microsoft Windows and we got a lot of feedback from people who migrated to Linux and who missed this feature. Of course one could install DansGuardian and a few other packages but it’s not easy, it usually requires the use of a proxy and it’s also quite complex to configure. For Linux Mint 6 we came with a compromise and we decided to implement a minimal set of features but to make it as trivial to use as possible. So here comes mintNanny.

MintNanny is a small graphical interface which lets you “block” domain names. You can’t block domains for particular users or particular programs, the block is for everyone on the computer and for any protocol. When you “block” a domain in mintNanny it basically adds an entry to your /etc/hosts file and defines that domain’s IP address as being This results in your computer not being able to communicate with the domain anymore. So if there are domains you really don’t want your children to have anything to do with, put them in mintNanny.

Remember that mintNanny blocks domain names, not IP addresses so if your children are smart enough to ping the domain from another computer they’ll be able to access it via its IP address.

Certain domains use subdomains and redirect to them so you might have to block them to. For instance if you want to block you might also have to block As a rule of thumb try to access the website after you block it to see if your block was efficient enough.

Firefox caches DNS resolutions to speed things up. This means that it remembers where a website is until you close it. In other words, after you block a website, you’ll have to restart Firefox.


To install MintNanny you need the Romeo repositories. Perform an “apt update” and an “apt install mintnanny-gnome” in a terminal (or “apt install mintnanny-kde” if you run KDE).

If you don’t have Romeo set up, you can grab the packages from here:


MintNanny will be one of the featured improvements coming with Linux Mint 6 Felicia. We’re actively trying to get the community to translate this tool. If you happen to speak another language than English, please help us translate mintNanny by participating to this forum thread:

Bug reports and feedback

Tell us what you think by posting a comment on this blog post. Report bugs here as well.



  1. I love this feature and was waiting some time to get it!! As a parent it’s very important to keep kids safe.

    Thanks Clem, great job. Again 🙂

    I think that the most urgent issue in Linux Mint this day, is to improve the look of the whole distro and it will be the absolute perfect OS.

  2. Leave this kids alone God dam it.
    I just a thought but by restricting children you just make them soft for this tough world.

  3. Andrew: That’s up to the user to decide, as a distribution we needed to provide the choice. My kids are 3 and 1 so I don’t have to worry about that yet. When I do I don’t know which attitude I’ll have (I think I’ll be laxist but that’s easy to say until I’m actually faced with the challenges). I’m well aware that this won’t be used by everybody but there was a demand for it and it was easy to implement.

  4. Andrew,
    This is a Linux blog, not a philosophical one. So you better keep that kind of comment for yourself.

    But if you insist, I’m telling you that I’m not afraid to let my kids to know the world as tough as it it, but from the other side there are steps that kids need at different ages, and at the age they are now they are things that I prefer to keep them away.



  5. Thanks Clem,

    this is a feature I appreciate having the choice to use, if and when I become concerned. It is a winner.

  6. I remember this being mentioned recently on Slashdot… It’s much easier to keep a whitelist instead of a blacklist. Of course, it’s very restrictive, but there really is no other way to keep kids off the ‘bad’ wobsites.

  7. Awesome new feature, came just in the nick of time for me to deliver a spanking new Mint box to a client for their kids to use (so they don’t keep downloading virii onto the winbloze box)

    Here’s a thing — I’m not savvy enough to go looking, but presumably there’s a .conf file or something, somewhere, where I can just paste a giant list… instead of inserting one at a time. ;P

    Also, feature request: ability to do the inverse – have a list of sites the user is ALLOWED to visit.

    Oh, and that reminds me then, another feature request… manage domain lists with attached users… as in: billy is not allowed at but bobby is.

  8. [quote]Leave this kids alone God dam it. [/quote]

    No Andrew, wrong. Don’t let the Kids alone.

    The best guidance software is between the ears of the parents, or the nannys.
    At least I hope so. But when I see parents greeting censorship tools as a good thing, then I fear I’m maybe wrong.

    To block sites is censorship, even if you call it nicely nanny. It’s one of the most dangerous things in this world.
    But it’s easy with such kind tools. More easy than sitting with the children at the compu and guide them while they are exploring the world.

    And by the way, a real Nanny would take the children by the hand and guide them through a maybe dangerous area. Not let them find their way alone in the dark.

    Be with your children, when they are surfing the web, but don’t let them get used to censorship.

    In my eyes this tool is evil, period.



  9. Is this an effective tool? Is there some place to get a list of sites by categories to cut and paste into the mintNanny?

    An effective tool to filter the web is the only obstacle I have between my kids and Linux.

    Would it be a good idea to take DansGuardian and make it easy to install and manage? Maybe MintDansGuardian.

    As awesome of a job that the team does with Mint, I know you could make it best in class for families.

  10. I think DansGuardian is a much better choice. Why is it not possible to implement it in Mint? Christian Ubuntu did it. It could not be so difficult!


  11. Clem,
    Thank you so much for Linux Mint. I think it is awesome that you take Mint Community suggestions seriously and make these features available so quickly. My wife and I happen to believe that there are some web sites that are inappropriate for adults as well as children. I believe mintNanny will be a very useful tool for those with similar views. We did do some blocking and monitoring(along with a lot of in depth discussion)with our kids for a short time. Once we felt they understood our concerns, we quit blocking and simply checked their surfing habits for a few months. We do not advocate any sort of censorship, but we do believe in setting rules, boundaries, and limits for our children. Of course, every parent will have different rules, etc. for their children. This is what makes mintNanny so great.
    Last year I installed Mint on all 4 computers in our home as well as my Mothers laptop. At that time, our youngest was 12 and my mom was 71. It is truly a great distro for any age.

  12. I known that have to be more difficult, but wouldn’t be better to block certain words instead domains.

    For example, If somebody have to introduce all the sex pages, their children will be 18 before finish the half…

  13. I think DansGuardian is a much better choice. Why is it not possible to implement it in Mint? Christian Ubuntu did it.

    yes and that for the Muslims too. Censorship, the wet dream of each religious fundamentalist.


    My wife and I happen to believe that there are some web sites that are inappropriate for adults……

    Thank you, just my point. so much for the brainwash that is already done.


  14. As this affects all users is it possible to unlock it momentarily, in order for Daddy to check before then turning it back on again?

    Also, if you are going down the route of users needing to add sites then there definitely needs to be some way to import a text file of domains, assuming you haven’t already added that feature. I am assuming that somewhere out in cyber land is a list of known bad sites you can download.

  15. Dear hamburn
    Why do not you want to respect the need of others? Nobody is forced to install or use a parental control tool. But if someone want to do it, let her/him do it. Why does it bother you? Do not you use Adblock extension in Firefox? If so, are you a religious fundamentalist?

  16. Cool! I think the way this tool works it’s not the best way (blocking for all users instead of some) but it’s a great start and I’m sure in future versions this tool will improve as the other mint tools.

  17. I personally think that censoring tools are silly, But then again that’s just my opinion. Nice to see you’re adding this feature for those that want it. 🙂

  18. Good start to block the access to ms this is something a kid really dont wanna see.

    would be good to have a self-updating blacklist (or white) exchange like ie. adblock for ff.
    A regex filter possibility would be good as well.
    This would save a lot of typing.

    Thanks for that great tool

  19. Dear Herbert I do indeed respect the needs of others. I fight for them my whole life since I was a young man. The need of freedom of information.
    The need of censorship tools I will never give a hand.
    You see it here on the side. This tool is intended for blocking sides for children. and just after that comes

    “My wife and I happen to believe that there are some web sites that are inappropriate for adults……”

    That’s why it bothers me. A gun is a tool good for policemen to defend citizens against murderers, but let it come it in the hand of a maniac you get a massacre in school.
    The stealing of our freedom comes on tiptoes.
    That’s my fear. And as you can see in that sentence, my fear isn’t so unreasonable.
    That what I have seen from him makes me think Clem wanted to do something good. But the effect of that tool is evil.
    I indeed use adblock+. but this is my computer nobody’s else. And I’m an old fashioned net user. I was on the net since it was founded, mailboxes, usenet you name it, before there was a www. I don’t see it as a place for ads or shops in general. If I like a side so as I open adblock+ and sometimes I click on the ads there. When I can help a side by buying something that I need I buy it over the linked ads there, no problem. But that’s a favor and not my duty.
    And by the way, what has using adblock for me on my compu to do with this tool that’s purpose is to block contend for others?
    That’s a big difference.


  20. Clem, nice job.

    Another MintSomething tool.

    MintNanny (Parental Control tool).

    I have installed it for testing
    It works good.

    I’m not contrary for these kind of tools. Parents need them for
    certain circunstances. It’s a very useful tool but not for me.


  21. hamburn,
    While it seems English is not your first language, you express yourself very well. I think it is great that people from so many diverse cultures and various languages are enjoying Linux Mint. I think perhaps you misunderstood my earlier post regarding mintNanny. It seems you also misunderstood just how mintNanny works. It will only block web sites on your computer if you install it on your computer. No one else’s computer is affected—just like adblock+.
    I hope I have not offended you. I know that reading and writing a second language can be very tricky. I have tried and I cannot do it as well as you. Take care, my friend.


  22. although i do not see the requirement for these tools (you block the kids, if they want a way in, they’ll find a way in. they just got practice in dishonesty) i think that it is good that you are including such a thing. i haven’t tested it, (i have no kids, no need to test it.) but from reading the description, here are a few suggestions:

    the tool could have a function that pings the addresses entered and blocks their ip addresses also
    the tool could have a database import function so that instead of the concerened individual having to go searching all over the web for bad sites, they could let someone else do the work for them and click on a bad site database which will load the offending sites and block them.

    why i suggested this for a tool i don’t see the need for, i don’t know, i just figured i would help in case it was necessary after all.

  23. As good an idea it sounds, it really doesn’t do much to prevent accessing “dodgy” websites, unless you block every single one, which I guess could take some time. It’s a nice idea but I don’t think it’s very useable

  24. I am amazed at so many foul responses to an optional tool. Software, like an automobile can be used for good or for evil therefore it is amoral, not good or evil.
    The point is you get so stirred up over an option–that’s called being OVERSENSITIVE. Call it censorship or what ever you want, but contrary to popular belief, Parents are responsible for what they put in front of their children. If you don’t like to tool DON’T USE IT. But don’t slam developers idea’s that only put control into the hands of responsible parents. If you want unfettered access to the web by all means go ahead. If I choose not to expose myself & my children to certain things that is my choice and my responsibility.

  25. I personally don’t have a direct use for this tool, as I come from a geeky family and am the only user on my Minty laptop. But I think that this may also be used in a similar way as adblock+. Blocking a site in mintNanny may be faster than adblock+, and I’ll have to experiment some time. I doubt I’ll actually use mintNanny in such a way, but it is an interesting idea all the same, and I thought I’d mention it in case any other geeks out there are interested.

    Oh, just for clarification: being called a geek is positive. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! =D

  26. How in the world is this useful? Firefox already has this capability, and there’s absolutely no way to block all offensive sites on the internet. It would be MUCH more useful to have an inclusive block (block all sites EXCEPT the ones in the list), and even better to have a dictionary based keyword block.

    It’s nice people care about providing this capability, but this tool provides little benefit for intelligent parents wanting to protect their kids.

  27. Hey, censorship is sh*t³ but i am badly suprised how fast with even 5 links a row you can see very cruel pornsites or sites that show bloody executions (i dont know many countries that do bad bad things with axes or sabres)… and believe it or not i dont want my lil sweety to browse that sites, not even with a chance of 1 to unlimited…

    thanks clem! develop will continue so the quality and functionality will grow too…

  28. xwin78,I think you sum it up for me.My kids are 9 and 11 and have never watched television.Television was just not a tool that we chose to use, any videos other than home movies were always watched as a family or previewed.Our kids are tremendous readers, and now are able to use the net for homework and fun.Hopefully we have given them the tools to make good choices by working with them and empowering them.This sounds like a brilliant tool for some parents and I hope that they are happy with it.

  29. Facade47: mintNanny is a nice little tool but we’ll have to eventually replace it with another technology (based on dansguardian I guess). This is something I did in a day in an effort to bring some level of parental control in Mint 6, it wasn’t even planned for this release. When we properly plan it (maybe for Mint 7) we’ll come with something which provides whitelists, user management.. and all the features people would expect.

  30. It will only block web sites on your computer if you install it on your computer. No one else’s computer is affected—just like adblock+.

    Wrong Don, it censors ( I hate that newspeak, blocking, filtering, be at least honest, it’s censoring) the site on the compu of the children.

    @Clem, thank you for making that clear. So I have to look for a edition that stands on the side of freedom again, thank you very much.


  31. @ hamburn

    The greatest Freedom is having the right and ability and choosing NOT to. With freedom comes responsibility, & children do not have the metal faculties to handle this responsibility. This tool is not about censorship, but protection. Most children do NOT know what is good and bad for them, it is PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY to help the child to learn this. If you let a 3 year old play with cleaning chemicals they may eat them, causing harm or even death. You can protect without loving, but you can not love without protecting. Parents that love there kids protect them.

  32. Independent of all what it was said, I think this is a Linux forum, not one for religious concerns.

    In my humble opinion, if the feature was requested and it was easy to implement, then, why don’t?

    It’s all thing of choices. If you chosen Linux Mint, you chosen it. Choices are in all the life. And in this case, if you want to use this tool, here it is, easy to use, implement and all that. If you don’t want to use it, well, just don’t use it. You can even uninstall it if you don’t like it.

    In my case, I could find this tool useful for blocking sites that have spam or that I just don’t want to surf accidently. Or even for, if someone else want to use my laptop, deny him temporarily access to certain websites that could harm the computer (I did it on my Windows partition, and it’s very good for avoid adware websites).

    Said simple: If you don’t want to use it, don’t use it. But please don’t deny the right to use it for the people that want it.

  33. Linux is all about choice. Different people choose different things. I happen use proprietary things in my setup, while someone else might avoid them like the plague.

    That’s what we’re all about here. If you have a problem with MintNanny, that’s fine. Give it the boot and don’t use it. You’ve made your choice, so don’t lecture others just because they don’t happen to agree with you.

    Anyhow, I think MintNanny is a nice basic utility. It will be interesting to see how it evolves in Mint 7! I think the new MintNanny should include some form of time management – you know, so junior can only spend 3 hours on the computer a day or so that he can only access the computer at a certain time(s).

  34. If some neurotic parent wants to block sites from their kids, then let them. Like others have said, Linux is about choice, and this is just one of those choices. I wouldn’t use such software myself, partly because I’m nowhere near having kids yet. 😛 But for those that want this, then let them have it. Refusing them access to this sort of software is no better than the restrictions Microsoft enforces on its users.

  35. I am grateful to all working on these parental controls. My young girls are constantly typing in searches for girl’s shoes, girls jeans etc. You all know what you get when you type in any url with “girls” in it. It is one thing to see a provocative pose. It is entirely another thing to get “gang bang slut photos” by accident. I can’t wait until a Bluecoat K9 type parental control product is available for Linux. Until that time, Mint is a hobby platform in my home, and windows must stay.

  36. This is a bit late, but I just found this page after searching for information on mintNanny. After reading through the comments here, I feel the need to buff what hamburn is saying with more clarity.

    Comparing mintNanny to Adblock Plus is flawed for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Adblock Plus is designed specifically for commercial advertisement banners. True that it can be used to block other domains, but here is where the more important difference comes in; the ability to disable it.

    If I install Adblock Plus on a computer either shared with others or solely used by others, then anyone using it has the freedom to click the icon up top and uncheck Enable (or to simply disable it in the browser’s add-on list). But accessing mintNanny calls for an administrative password. This means any user without administrative privileges cannot touch it. And even if he or she could, wiping a whole list or disabling it entirely (as far as I can tell) is not a simple task. It is difficult to argue that mintNanny was not designed specifically for this; to impose a means of blocking information from reaching others; id est, censorship.

    This whole parentalist idea that parents need to push their personal agendas by having control over the flow of information to children via censorship and revoking their freedom to make choices is the cause of so many problems in society. These children grow up, and they do not magically gain abilities and behaviours that were kept from them through childhood. They are indoctrinated into a system in which they must submit to the authority of others, and that creates a system mostly comprised of followers who are so easily manipulated by those in power. If they were to experience the whole truth and nothing but the truth (the truth being existence in general), then they would be more informed and aware of what is really out there.

    This whole idea that they are somehow mentally incapable of having freedom to choose… well, I suppose we have not advanced very far since we thought women were the same way, and people of coloured skin. I wonder when people will learn that freedom does not discriminate.

    One thing is for sure. It is the developer’s choice to make whatever tool he or she sees fit. But freedom is stronger than censorship. Censorship needs to be maintained, while freedom is absolute, and as long as freedom exists, there will always be a way to rid ourselves of this censorship. In this case, I hope to see more places educating children in the ways of disabling these tools.

  37. Xidram: I actually agree with you when it comes to children and education. My children love Jurassic Park because we never told them they had to be afraid of it. My son is even allowed to play Urban Terror (only in FFA mode, because he can’t really aim so he ends up shooting his team-mates). They know I don’t like war, they know why. They know I love war games, and they know why. They know what they like, and they definitely know why. Every question they may ask gets answered naturally and without hiding any truth. Having said that, that works for me but I don’t think there’s only way to successfully educate children. I’ve seen families go by different ways, completely opposite to what’s being done in my house, and raise very happy and balanced children as well. Ultimately people do what they want, and to a lesser extent, in most cases anyway, what they think is right. If they can’t use Linux the way they want they’ll simply find yet another excuse to use Windows, and I’m not talking about compromise here… there is no compromise in providing additional tools or in giving even more power to the root user. Computers are made to be easy, efficient and powerful. Whatever the computer’s owner wants to achieve, the OS should make trivial. There is a demand for tools like mintNanny, and what we care about here isn’t to protect children’s right to uncensored information (anyway, for the smart ones out there there’s always a way to get what they want), it’s ultimately to give more choice, more freedom and more power to users (understand root) in taking ownership of their OS and achieving what they want in the easiest possible way. I wouldn’t like to be told how to raise my children, and I certainly wouldn’t like my OS to restrict me in the way I use my computer. If I was to decide some sites had to be restricted, then I would definitely not expect my OS to come in the way of my decision.

    As for non-admin users, it’s very simple: whatever the admin wants for them applies. Who are we to restrict admins when it comes to user management? 🙂

  38. Clem, my last paragraph should have been more clear, but I should expand it to better cover what you’ve mentioned.

    Yes, users are free to use, and developers are free to develop (is this not what the whole GNU/Linux concept is all about?). But–and this is where I should have placed more emphasis–this freedom also applies to journalism. What I want to see is not a total ban on censorship tools like this, but rather an increase in the flow of information on countering the effects of these tools. Censoring censorship is not the solution; education is.

    I agree with you that supplying demand to bring Windows users to Linux is a great thing. That is why I did not once say that mintNanny or similar software should not be developed. I backed up and expanded on hamburn’s arguments, and I voiced my opinion on censorship (and the tools used to carry it out) in general. However, I finished off by saying that the developer has the choice to develop as he or she sees fit (be it supplying demand or simply personal fulfillment).

    This is one of those cases of “I do not agree with the concept, but I acknowledge its existence,” and I advocate competing constructively with it rather than trying to eliminate it in combat. And after seeing what many of the ‘tech-savvy’ children of this generation can pick up easily, I must say that it will be a bumpy ride for advocates of old-fashioned (obsolete) parentalism in the relatively near future.

    And even though (as the previous comments have pointed out) mintNanny is a relatively weak censorship tool (which you mentioned would be replaced with a more sophisticated one in future releases), I think the name alone and the ‘implied’ use is enough to get bonus points from the ‘average consumer’ (which is the demographic Windows dominates at the moment). So on that ground, good job.

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