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Platform-specific Desktop Tips

From Whonix

All Platforms[edit]

Disable Terminal Emulator Banner[edit]

The following banner appears when a terminal is opened.

Welcome to Whonix!
https://www.whonix.org

The programs included with the Whonix ™ GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Whonix ™ GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law. Whonix ™ is a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux.

Whonix ™ is based on Tor. Whonix ™ is produced independently from the
Tor (r) anonymity software and carries no guarantee from The Tor Project
about quality, suitability or anything else.

Whonix ™ is experimental software by means of concept and design.
Do not rely on it for strong anonymity.

Type: "whonix" <enter> for help.
uwt INFO: Stream isolation for some applications enabled. uwt / torsocks will be automatically prepended to some commands.
uwt INFO: https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Stream_Isolation/Easy

To disable the banner, follow these steps.

1. Open a terminal.

If you are using Qubes-Whonix ™, complete the following steps.

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q")Whonix-Workstation ™ AppVM (commonly named anon-whonix)Konsole

If you are using a graphical Whonix with KDE, run.

Start MenuApplicationsSystemKonsole

If you are using a graphical Whonix with XFCE, run.

Start MenuXfce Terminal

2. Run the following command.

cp /etc/skel/.bashrc.whonix-orig ~/.bashrc

The process is now complete.

See also: Disable Virtual Console Banner.

Shut Down Whonix-Gateway ™ (sys-whonix)[edit]

To shut down Whonix-Gateway ™ (sys-whonix), open a terminal and run.

sudo poweroff

Alternatively, use the menu option:

Virtual Consoles[edit]

Virtual consoles is a feature inherited from Debian GNU/Linux which is unfamiliar to many users. The following keyboard shortcuts activate the Debian (not Whonix ™) feature:

  • Text console: Press Alt + Crtl + F1
    • Additional text consoles: Press Alt + Crtl + F2 or F3 and so on.
  • Graphical console: Press Alt + Crtl + F7

Table: Virtual Console Activation

Platform Steps
KVM The desired virtual console key shortcut can be selected under the Send Key option in a VM's graphical window.
Qubes In dom0, run: sudo xl console vm-name. Replace "vm-name" with the name of the actual VM, for example.

sudo xl console sys-whonix

VirtualBox Inside VirtualBox, the Alt + Ctrl keys are already registered by the host operating system. Instead of the Alt + Ctrl shortcut, the VirtualBox Host Key [1] is used.
  • Text console: Press Host Key + F1 (F2,...) for one or more text consoles.
  • Graphical console: Press Host Key + F7 for a graphical console inside VirtualBox.

Disable Virtual Console Banner[edit]

This process is similar to Disable Terminal Emulator Banner.

1. Open a virtual console.

2. Run the following command to restore the original bashrc (untested). [2]

cp /etc/skel/.bashrc.whonix-orig ~/.bashrc

[3]

The procedure is complete.

Non-Qubes-Whonix[edit]

RAM Adjusted Desktop Starter[edit]

RAM Adjusted Desktop Starter will not start the desktop environment. The terminal-based Whonix-Gateway ™ can be used instead.

When booting up, a prompt will appear offering to prevent XFCE from starting. Users can also manually press Ctrl + C for the same effect.

By default, Whonix-Gateway ™ is configured with 768 MB virtual RAM. This can be reduced on systems with low available resources.

  • If total RAM is more than 512 MB, the default desktop environment (XFCE) is started.
  • If total RAM is less than 512 MB (for example, the minimum 256 MB RAM requirement), XFCE (lightdm) is not started. [4]

Users with low RAM resources should find this convenient because Whonix-Gateway ™ RAM can be reduced to 256 MB and still function. Further, if something needs configuring or checking, 512 MB RAM can be assigned to automatically boot into the graphical XFCE desktop. Additional settings are available in /etc/rads.d/ to configure this feature: additional RAM can be added (but still not choosing to boot into a desktop environment), different display managers can be used and so on.

For more information, see RAM Adjusted Desktop Starter.

Show Desktop[edit]

In KDE 4, dashboard view replaces the old "Show Desktop" feature. Press Ctrl + F12 to show the dashboard view. This keyboard shortcut can be changed in system settings.

System SettingsShortcuts and GesturesGlobal Keyboard ShortcutsKDE component = Plasma Desktop ShellShow Dashboard

For more information about the KDE 4 desktop, please see: https://www.kde.org/announcements/4.0/desktop.php

Single vs Double-click[edit]

By default, launching desktop icons in KDE uses a single-click, instead of a double-click method. Users can change the default launching behavior to a double-click via the following steps.

KDEStart menu buttonApplicationsSettingsSystem Settingsinput devicesmousedouble clickapply

The procedure is now complete.

Use Full-screen Mode[edit]

It is recommended to work in full-screen; this feature is also inherited from VirtualBox. To activate and deactivate full-screen mode, press the Host Key [1] + F. [5]

Full-screen mode leads to the Whonix ™ (and Debian) default resolution and color depth of 1024x768x24. Having a common value for these identifiers reduces the fingerprinting risk to the user. Full-screen mode also helps to prevent users from accidentally launching applications on the host (such as a clearnet browser), instead of within Whonix ™.

Whonixcheck Writing to tty1[edit]

whonixcheck wrote its results to tty1

It is difficult to keep users updated with system status information when they are using a terminal instead of a graphical desktop environment. Therefore, the Whonix ™ timesync and whonixcheck applications will very occasionally provide status messages, even if the user is logged into the terminal tty1 and sees a command prompt.

This feature can be useful, for example if Whonix-Gateway ™ has a customized configuration (even if it was not strictly required) and successful status messages are posted about the system. On the other hand, status message output can be a hindrance, particularly if the user is doing something like editing a configuration file when it appears. If it is necessary to complete activities without interruption, it is recommended to log into a tty other than tty1, for example tty2:

  • Default-Download-Version: utilize the VirtualBox Host Key method: Right Ctrl + F2. [6]
  • Physical isolation: utilize the standard Debian feature which comes with Debian: Ctrl + Alt + F2.

XFCE Scaling[edit]

A number of displays found in high-end laptops and desktops have High Dots Per Inch (HiDPI), providing a high resolution in a relatively small format. High-resolution mode can cause problems with certain software and the following adjustments may be necessary to improve HiDPI presentation in XFCE. [7]

Table: XFCE Scaling Options

Configuration Description
Fonts Change the DPI parameter as follows: [7]
  • Settings ManagerAppearanceFontsDPIIncrease

For example, it is reported that a value of 180 or 192 seems to work well on Retina screens, but trial and error may be necessary to get a more precise number for the relevant display.

gtk2 Menus and Buttons Follow these steps to change the default icon sizes of gtk2 menus, buttons and so on: [7]
  • Settings ManagerSettings EditorxsettingsGtkIconSizes → in row Value → add the following line.

gtk-large-toolbar=96,96:gtk-small-toolbar=64,64:gtk-menu=64,64:gtk-dialog=96,96:gtk-button=64,64:gtk-dnd=64,64
Note that the "gtk-dnd" parameter is for the icons during drag'n'drop, while the others are self-evident based on their name. Any value supported by the icon theme can be used.

System Tray Icon Size Follow these steps to enlarge icons in the system tray: [7]
  1. Right-click on system tray: aim for empty space / top pixels / bottom pixels, so the the icons are not activated themselves.
  2. PropertiesSet "Maximum icon size" to 32, 48 or 64.
Task Bar Size To change the size of the task bar:
  • Right-click on empty space in task barPanelPanel PreferencesRow Size (Pixels)move slider
Window Manager Style Xfwm has two hidpi themes: Default-hdpi and Default-xhdpi. Change the theme as follows: [7]
  • Settings ManagerWindow ManagerStyleThemeDefault-hdpi or Default-xhdpi

Qubes-Whonix[edit]

Avoid VM Full Screen Mode[edit]

It is unrecommended to allow Qubes-Whonix ™ or other VMs to completely "own" the full screen. Overriding Qubes' GUI virtualization daemon restrictions means the colored decorations drawn by each VM window will not be visible. In this case, a malicious application might not actually release the full screen (while it appears normal), or the full desktop may be emulated so users are tricked into entering sensitive information inside false "trusted" domains. [8]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 VirtualBoxGlobal SettingsInputHost Key. The current Host Key is visible in the bottom right corner of VirtualBox.
  2. Please leave feedback if this step works correctly.
  3. 3. Run the following command.
    sudo unlink /etc/motd
  4. Whonix-Gateway ™ can work with as little as 128 MB RAM, but resource intensive operations like kernel package upgrades that rebuild the initrd leave the virtual machine in a frozen state.
  5. The normal VirtualBox default is Right Ctrl + F.
  6. The Right Ctrl key is the VirtualBox default.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/HiDPI#Xfce
  8. https://www.qubes-os.org/doc/full-screen-mode/

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