Design and Goals

From Whonix



Whonix ™ aims to preserve privacy and anonymity by helping users run applications anonymously. A web browser, IRC client, office suite, and more come pre-configured with security in mind.

Whonix ™ is a complete operating system with advanced security and anonymity features [archive]. It consists of two virtual machines -- Whonix-Gateway ™ and Whonix-Workstation ™ -- which are designed to be used on a host operating system (OS). The host OS supporting Whonix ™ is usually the one installed on the user's computer, but OSes installed on external drives will also work. Users choose the preferred Whonix ™ configuration and may use either a Type I hypervisor (Qubes-Whonix ™), or a Type II hypervisor like KVM and Virtualbox.

Whonix ™ is Freedom Software and is based on Kicksecure ™ (security-focused Linux Distribution), Tor [1], Debian GNU/Linux [2], and the principle of security by isolation.

Security by Isolation[edit]

Whonix ™ is divided into two VMs: Whonix-Workstation ™ for work activities and Whonix-Gateway ™ to enforce all Internet traffic through the Tor network. [3] This security by isolation configuration averts many threats posed by malware, misbehaving applications, and user error.

Figure: Whonix ™ Operating System Design

Whonix concept refined.jpg

Online Anonymity via Tor[edit]

Whonix ™ relies on the Tor network to protect a user's anonymity online; all connections are forced through Tor or otherwise blocked. Tor helps to protect users by bouncing communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. Without advanced, end-to-end, netflow correlation attacks, anybody watching a user's Internet connection cannot easily determine the sites visited, and those sites cannot learn the user's physical location. [4]

To learn more about Tor, read the official documentation on the Tor website [archive] (.onion [archive]):

Based on Debian[edit]

Info Tip: Since Ubuntu is a Debian derivative, online help for Ubuntu most often works for Whonix ™.

In oversimplified terms, Whonix ™ is just a collection of configuration files and scripts. Whonix ™ is not a stripped down version of Debian; anything possible in "vanilla" Debian GNU/Linux can be replicated in Whonix ™. Likewise, most problems and questions can be solved in the same way. For example: "How do I install VLC Media Player on Whonix ™?" -- "The same way as in Debian apt install vlc. Whonix ™ does not break anything, limit functionality, or prevent installation of compatible software.

Whonix Version[edit]

Each Whonix ™ release is based on a particular version of Debian:

Whonix ™ version Debian Version Debian Codename
Whonix ™ 11 bullseye [archive]

Users can manually check the Whonix ™ version at any time by following this step.

Release Schedule[edit]

Note that Whonix ™ does not have a fixed release schedule. A new stable release only becomes available when it is deemed ready. Interested users can query the issue tracker [5] and release notes to track developer progress. Stay Tuned.

Support Schedule[edit]

Debian Hosts[edit]

New Debian Release

One month after a new stable version of Debian is released, Whonix ™ VMs may no longer be supported on any older version of Debian. All users need to upgrade the Debian platform promptly after the deprecation notice in order to use Whonix ™ safely.

New Whonix ™ Release

One month after a new stable version of Whonix is released, older versions will no longer be supported. All users need to upgrade the Whonix ™ platform promptly in order to remain safe.

Deprecation Notices

The deprecation notice is provided at least one month in advance and posted in the Whonix ™ News forum [archive]. Stay Tuned! All users need to upgrade the respective platform promptly in order to remain safe. [6]

Debian-based and Other Hosts[edit]

As per Debian Hosts.

Windows Hosts[edit]

The support schedule is mostly undefined at present, but likely to mirror Debian Hosts.

Qubes Hosts[edit]

Quote Qubes-Whonix ™ version support policy [archive]:

Whonix ™ templates are supported by our partner, the Whonix ™ Project. The Whonix ™ Project has set its own support policy for Whonix ™ templates in Qubes.

This policy requires Whonix ™ template users to stay reasonably close to the cutting edge by upgrading to new stable releases of Qubes OS and Whonix ™ templates within a month of their respective releases. To be precise:

  • One month after a new stable version of Qubes OS is released, Whonix ™ templates will no longer be supported on any older release of Qubes OS. This means that users who wish to continue using Whonix ™ templates on Qubes must always upgrade to the latest stable Qubes OS release within one month of its release.
  • One month after new stable versions of Whonix ™ templates are released, older releases of Whonix ™ templates will no longer be supported. This means that users who wish to continue using Whonix ™ templates on Qubes must always upgrade to the latest stable Whonix ™ template releases within one month of their release.

We aim to announce both types of events one month in advance in order to remind users to upgrade.


Table: Whonix ™ Goals, Design and Limitations

Category Description
Whonix ™ is
  • a free and open operating system
  • an anti-censorship tool
  • the first step among many in hiding a user's identity
Whonix ™ helps to
  • disguise a user's IP address
  • prevent ISP spying
  • prevent websites from identifying the user
  • prevent malware from identifying the user
  • circumvent censorship
Whonix ™ is not
  • a one-click anonymization solution

Next Steps[edit]

Learning more about Whonix ™ is the best way to determine whether it is a suitable solution in your personal circumstances. The following chapters are recommended:

  • The Warning page to understand the security limitations of Whonix ™ and Tor.
  • Further information about Whonix ™ Features.
  • The implied Trust placed in Whonix ™ when it is used.
  • The Security Guide, Advanced Security Guide and Design chapters detailing the Whonix ™ specifications, threat model and implementation.
  • Other relevant Documentation explaining how to use Whonix ™ safely.


  1. [archive]
  2. [archive]
  3. In Qubes-Whonix ™, these VMs are named sys-whonix and anon-whonix, respectively.
  4. Current practical, low-latency, anonymity designs like Tor fail when the attacker can see both ends of the communication channel (traffic going into and out of the Tor network). If both flows are visible [archive], simple statistics can determine whether they match up.
  5. For example, for the next release use the tag "Whonix ™ 16" and status "Open".
  6. This also relieves Whonix ™ developers from needing to diagnose and support old-stable versions of Qubes/Debian/Whonix ™, which duplicates the maintenance burden.


Whonix ™ About wiki page Copyright (C) Amnesia <amnesia at boum dot org>
Whonix ™ About wiki page Copyright (C) 2012 - 2021 ENCRYPTED SUPPORT LP <>

This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details see the wiki source code.
This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions; see the wiki source code for details.

Gratitude is expressed to JonDos [archive] for permission [archive] to use material from their website. (w [archive]) (w [archive]) [1] The "Summary" chapter of the Whonix ™ Design and Goals wiki page contains content from the JonDonym documentation Features [archive] page.

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