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I sometimes USB tether my laptop to my phone to allow me to access the internet using 3G. The problem is that all sorts of things, such as the Update Manager, will go online and use up my valuable allowance.

Is it possible to somehow configurate things such that:

  • when (and only when) I am connected to the internet using the tethered phone, no application is able to go online, except...
  • applications which are run under a certain user (eg sudo -u internetaccess lynx http://mysite/)
  • when I am connected using Wifi/ethernet access is normal

Is there a way I can do this?

(I am on Ubuntu 11.04 and my phone is an Android - when I plug in the USB cable, it all Just Works)

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you can use gufw to set up the firewall, allowing and disallowing communications as you wish. You can also turn this on and off as desired too. To install, look for gufw in USC or type in terminal:

sudo apt-get install gufw

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I've installed gufw, but am having trouble configuring it. I have activated it, but even by adding ALLOW HTTP I am unable to browse using lynx... – Rich Jul 5 '11 at 14:09
strange...try unblocking port 80 – Conor Rynne Jul 7 '11 at 15:47

There's a good solution given by tobykurien at this question, which points to this post. His solution uses a slightly different approach, which I'll summarise it as these steps:

  • Step 1: create an internet access group
  • Step 2: setup firewall rules to only allow access to that group and disallow everything else
  • Step 3: open a terminal as the internet group

Any app launched from this terminal will have internet access.

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