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Like this article? We recommend Installing Vanish

Installing Vanish

There is a way to test the service without installing anything at all. Go to the web-based Vanish Demo Service page and try it. All you have to do is put your text in the textbox, click the I Agree with the Vanish Service Terms of Use checkbox, and click the Create Vanish Message button. Take the cryptotext and copy/paste it into e-mail or wherever. You or another user can use the same page to copy/paste the cryptotext message, click the Read Vanish Message button, and read the plaintext.

To install Vanish on your system, you must install two components. One is the Java cross-platform app backend, the other is a Firefox extension UI. You must have Firefox 3 or higher for the extensions. Go to this page to get them. If that fails, get to it through the main Vanish webpage.

Java Backend Installation

You must have Sun Java 5 or higher.


Click the Download for Linux/Mac button. Vanish should work on most Linux distributions. It works fine on my Ubuntu netbook (stock Kubuntu-Jaunty, not a netbook distro), but there are problems on my Debian workstation. It's an early alpha, so if it doesn't work for you now, try it again in a couple of months.

This needs to be installed as root. If the Download button goes immediately to an install prompt, tell it to save. Go to the directory you saved it to in a terminal window. Then, either open a root prompt and run the java jar installation command given on the page or preface it with sudo from a user prompt, depending on how your Linux distribution handles root access.

For example:

$ sudo java -jar vanish-X-installer.jar

(x stands for version number.)


# java -jar vanish-X-installer.jar


Click Download for Windows.

Windows XP opens an install prompt (see Figure 1). It appears to work better if you tell it to save, then open it by finding where you saved it to and opening from Windows Explorer or other file manager via the usual double-click. That will open the Java installer wizard. Once the wizard opens, it works just like the Linux/OSX wizard.

Figure 1 Vanish installer

Once you have the installer open, the usual kind of Java program installer wizard screens will appear. Do the obvious unless you have some reason not to want to accept the default choices.

Firefox Extension

Click on the link and tell Firefox you want to install it when the prompt comes up.

Wait a few minutes for Vanish to initialize itself on the network.

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