Avast! Antivirus for Ubuntu/Linux

I dual-boot Windows XP Pro (I know, it’s no longer supported. I haven’t used it in several months and don’t plan to anytime soon) and Ubuntu. Now, Windows isn’t exactly the most virus-free operating system, especially one as old as XP, and so I had installed the Avast! antivirus. It’s a great product and comes with all sorts of free features in the basic, free version.

On the other hand, Ubuntu is extremely virus-free. There are a few viruses out there but because of the fact that the code is open source, someone somewhere is bound to see a hole and then it gets patched really fast. If there is a security issue it’s usually caused by software installed on the system, not the Kernel/base software itself. However, it is a good idea just to have software installed, just in case a virus manages to work its way into your system.

There are different options, ClamAV is one commonly used ones. It’s lightweight, is the de-facto product for mail-scanning, and is cross-platform. However, this post is focused on Avast! antivirus.

  1. Download- a: First off, you have to download the installation file. The files for Linux aren’t listed directly on the main site, you have to know where to get them from and then you have to download them directly from Avast. If you are on Debian or Ubuntu (or other systems that are based on Debian) you will need to download the .deb file. If you are a on Fedora or any other system that uses .rpm files, you will obviously need that instead of the .deb. Here’s a complete list of downloadable files: DEB, RPM, TAR.GZ.
  2. Download – b:Grab the one that suits your OS and wait for it to download, they should be around 28MB in size. Much below that and something probably went wrong in the download.

  3. Install: Once the installer is downloaded, you’ll need to execute it. I don’t use any rpm-based systems, so I don’t know quite how that installation works, but if you are on Ubuntu installation is simple.
  4. Double-click the .deb file that was downloaded and it should bring up the Ubuntu Software Center. Wait for it to finish installing, then continue on to the next step.

  5. Register: You will need to complete the Registration Form to receive your free Key (via email) to use avast! Antivirus for Linux. If you don’t register you’ll get 30 days of use and then you won’t get updates any more. Avast only uses the registrations to plan the number of servers it needs to service updates to the software and definitions.

    The form will ask your name, email, and country/state (all of which are requied). Some optional items you can add include age, computer literacy, and previous antivirus, and your reason for choosing avast. Once you enter your details and send off the form, it will inform you your key will be sent to the specified email. It should arrive within about a half-hour.

    When you launch avast! you will be asked for a key. If you exit without entering one, it will ask again on next launch. Because the key is randomly generated, it is probably a good idea to simply copy/paste it from the email into Avast.

  6. Fix Updates Capability: For the most part, Avast works out of the box, there is a slight issue with the updating. Updates for Avast come in large blocks, much too large for Ubuntu’s default shmmax.

    ShmMax is the maximum amount of shared memory any given process can have, and although it probably is big enough for pretty much everything, single big temporary downloads (like those for applying big updates) means that avast!, which has very large updates, usually surpasses the default limit and so exits with an Update Engine Error.

    Fire up terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and enter

    gksudo gedit /etc/init.d/rcS

    Once gedit loads up with the file (You’ll need to enter the sudo password) you need to add in

    sysctl -w kernel.shmmax=128000000

    right before the line

    exec /etc/init.d/rc S

    Make sure you get these in the right order, new line first, then old – you might otherwise really mess up your computer.

    Now, because you’ve just edited Kernel settings you’ll need to reboot, as these settings load pretty early on in the boot process and can’t be re-loaded except on a reboot.

  7. Update definitions:Updating is really easy, just click on the big Update Database button in the top-left-hand corner, and, if you want automatic updates, go to Tools, then Preferences (menus) and enable them.

You have just installed Avast! Antivirus for Linux! Give yourself a pat on the back and the assurance that your Linux PC is safe and secure from those nasty viruses out there. Funny thing, there are so few viruses for Linux that can actually do any harm to an up-to-date system that anti-viruses on Linux tend to catch more Windows viruses than Linux ones!

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One thought on “Avast! Antivirus for Ubuntu/Linux

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