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When and if I need to download a linux program that is not in Software, I would like to safeguard against malicious programs by installing it in a virtual like setting.

I have not used any VM's yet, as I don't want/need another OS. I just want to have a safe way of using net downloaded programs.

Thanks!

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Sandboxing applications will help you.

In computer security, a sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. It is often used to execute untested code, or untrusted programs from unverified third parties, suppliers, untrusted users and untrusted websites. A sandbox typically provides a tightly controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in, such as scratch space on disk and memory. Network access, the ability to inspect the host system or read from input devices are usually disallowed or heavily restricted.

Apparmor is a default sandboxing application. I recommend it to use.

Guide: Apparmor Documentation

See also:

Run an untrusted C program in a sandbox in Linux that prevents it from opening files, forking, etc.?

How to sandbox applications?

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