Build Configuration

From Whonix

Note: All of the following build configuration steps are optional.


Usually the build configuration does not need to be changed. Whonix ™ built from source code comes with safe defaults. Whonix's APT Repository will not be used.

The most interesting build configurations (Terminal-Only, NoDefaultApps etc.) are documented in the following chapters.

If you are interested, click on Expand on the right.

If build configurations were used earlier, it might be better to delete the build configuration folder. A few example filenames may have changed since the last build.

sudo rm -r /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d

Alternatively, experts can manually examine the /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d folder and change its contents to suit their preferences.

/etc/whonix_buildconfig.d is a modular flexible .d style configuration folder.

Less popular build configurations are documented in the buildconfig.d folder and on the Dev/Source_Code_Intro#Build_Configuration page, but it is less user-friendly.

To avoid typos, it is best to copy and paste text when creating build configuration files. Take care that editors do not capitalize variable names which are supposed to be lower case during copy and paste procedures.

Platforms Choice

Advanced users can create 32-bit instead of 64-bit builds.

If you are interested, click on Expand on the right.

  • Whonix ™ is 64-bit by default. [1] [2]

To build Whonix ™ 32-bit, add the following build parameter.

--arch i386
  • kFreeBSD is entirely untested and most likely needs additional work (see footnotes). [3]
  • Whonix ™ for arm64 development discussion (working and tested with QEMU on Mac M1):
--arch arm64
  • Generally speaking, 64-bit builds cannot be created if running a 32-bit host kernel. See footnotes. [4] [5]

Whonix ™ APT Repository

Non-Qubes-Whonix ™:
Whonix ™ APT Repository is disabled by default [6] for builds from source code for reasons of Trust. Users can decide to update Whonix ™ Debian packages by building them from source code (greater security). Alternatively, Whonix ™ APT repository can be enabled right after building or after booting the build for the first time (greater convenience) using Whonix ™ repository tool. To use the latter method which sacrifices security for convenience, click on Expand on the right side.

Do you want to opt-in Whonix ™ APT Repository?

The easy way to add Whonix ™ stable repository the following command line option can be used.

--repo true

Other settings can be set using an environment variable or build configuration. Below are examples using an environment variable.

DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --repository stable'

DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --repository testers'

DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --repository developers'

DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --codename buster'

Add an environment variable as one normally does on that specific Linux platform. For example, to enable the Whonix ™ stable repository during build, you could set DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS by interjecting it between sudo and the ./whonix_build command. Below is an example. Do not use [...]. Replace it with other chosen build parameters (such as --build, --target etc.) after ./whonix_build.

sudo DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --repository stable' ./whonix_build [...]

APT Onion Build Sources

For better build security, you can also use onions apt sources for building Whonix ™.

If you are interested, click on Expand on the right.

This does not ensure all of Whonix's build process will be torified! See Build Anonymity.

--connection onion

Torified or Host APT Cache

Using an apt cache will greatly improve build speed when building several times in a row (e.g. when debugging, during development). Whonix ™ build script sets up an apt cache by default.

If you are interested in a torified apt-cacher-ng or host apt-cacher-ng, click on Expand on the right.

torified apt-cacher-ng

The following torified apt-cacher-ng setup only has to be applied, if you are building using onion apt sources using --connection onion. When building inside Whonix-Workstation ™, this is not required.

Ambox warning pn.svg.png Note, this neither torifies all of the build script's connections nor hides Tor from your ISP! See Build Anonymity.

Install apt-cacher-ng, torsocks and tor.

sudo apt-get install apt-cacher-ng torsocks tor

Create folder apt-cacher-ng systemd drop-in folder /lib/systemd/system/apt-cacher-ng.service.d.

sudo mkdir -p /lib/systemd/system/apt-cacher-ng.service.d

Open file /lib/systemd/system/apt-cacher-ng.service.d/50_user.conf in an editor with root rights.

(Qubes-Whonix ™: In TemplateVM)

This box uses sudoedit for better security [archive]. This is an example and other tools could also achieve the same goal. If this example does not work for you or if you are not using Whonix, please refer to this link.

sudoedit /lib/systemd/system/apt-cacher-ng.service.d/50_user.conf


ExecStart=torsocks /usr/sbin/apt-cacher-ng SocketPath=/run/apt-cacher-ng/socket -c /etc/apt-cacher-ng ForeGround=1


Reload systemd.

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Restart apt-cacher-ng.

sudo systemctl apt-cacher-ng restart

host apt-cacher-ng

Be sure to have a firewall, so the whole internet cannot use the apt-cacher-ng service.

When building inside a non-Whonix VM, an apt cache can be used on the host. In that case, adjust the IP accordingly and manually test that it is reachable. When building inside a (Whonix ™) VM, just install the apt cache inside the VM and point to a localhost apt cache.

Prepend REPO_PROXY= [archive] before the build command.

Replace the IP with the IP address of your host. For security reasons, this should only be done over LAN and not over the internet.

sudo REPO_PROXY= ./whonix_build ...

VM Settings

This is only relevant for VM builds.

Several examples are below. Values can be changed to suit user preferences.

VirtualBox's --vmsize option (virtual RAM).

--vmram 128

VirtualBox's --vram option (virtual video RAM).

--vram 128

grml-debootstrap's --vmsize option.

--vmsize 200G

grml-debootstrap's [archive] --filesystem option.

--filesystem ext4

grml-debootstrap's --hostname option. [7]

--hostname host

grml-debootstrap's --password option.

--os-password changeme

grml-debootstrap's --debopt option.

--debopt "--verbose"

Build Variables Changes

Build Configuration Folders:

You can drop configuration file either in:

  1. buildconfig.d or in
  2. /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d
  3. ../buildconfig.d folder.

Files should have the file extension .conf.

Method 2. is recommended for users.

  1. Contains examples. It is more difficult to use. [8] Rather use the following.
  2. sudo mkdir --parents /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d
  3. When /home/user/Whonix is your Whonix ™ source folder, you could use /home/user/buildconfig.d as your Whonix ™ build configuration folder. It is easier to use, since you don't have to git commit your build config files.


Below is an example how to use method 2.

sudo mkdir /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d

Open file /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d/50_user.conf in an editor with root rights.

(Qubes-Whonix ™: In TemplateVM)

This box uses sudoedit for better security [archive]. This is an example and other tools could also achieve the same goal. If this example does not work for you or if you are not using Whonix, please refer to this link.

sudoedit /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d/50_user.conf

Add. (Replace it with whatever build configuration variable you wish to set.)

Example 1.

export DERIVATIVE_APT_REPOSITORY_OPTS='--enable --repository stable'

Example 2.

export tbb_version=9.5



Skip Steps

Skip Sanity Tests

Useful to speed up the build.

--sanity-tests false

Skipping Build Steps

export SKIP_SCRIPTS+=" 1300_create-raw-image "

Skipping Chroot and/or Postinst Scripts

export SKIP_SCRIPTS+=" dist-base-files.postinst "

Look at the file names and add them. export SKIP_SCRIPTS+=" another_file_name ". Do not forget empty spaces before and after ". [10]

Source Code Changes

This is only required if changes were made to the Whonix source folder! In that case click on Expand on the right.
This is not required if only a customized build configuration was added to the /etc/whonix_buildconfig.d folder.

If changes were made to the Whonix ™ source code, it is the easiest to use the following build parameter.

--allow-uncommitted true

Or if not building from a git tag, it is the easiest to use the following build parameter.

--allow-untagged true

Otherwise, changes must be committed to git first, before creating a git tag.


  1. State of official 64-bit builds [archive].
  2. Don't get confused by the term amd64. It runs on both, Intel and AMD. amd64 is only how Debian names the kernel. It works equally well on Intel and AMD.
  3. kFreeBSD (32-bit).
    --arch kfreebsd-i386 --kernel kfreebsd-image --headers kfreebsd-headers

    kFreeBSD (64-bit).

    --arch kfreebsd-amd64 --kernel kfreebsd-image --headers kfreebsd-headers
  4. [archive]
  5. In this case, try installing the packages linux-image-amd64 and linux-headers-amd64 on your host, then boot the amd64 kernel by choosing it in the boot menu. The whole system does not require re-installation; just be sure to boot with an amd64 kernel. Alternatively, consider to re-install your host using amd64.
  6. Since Whonix ™ 7.3.3
  7. The anon-base-files [archive] package will change this later on.
  8. Since you would have to either:
    • A) git commit your build config files, OR,
    • B) See chapter source code changes below.
  9. This is because .. means "one level below this folder".
  10. We are expanding a bash array.
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