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This page needs to be updated. - This is because KVM builds are now done by KVM maintainer.

32-bit or 64-bit?[edit]

Chapter 32-bit or 64-bit? is up to date.

From Whonix ™ 14 onward, only 64-bit builds are available for download. [1] This decision is based on several factors:

  • Distributions are increasingly dropping support for 32-bit systems (including Debian). [2]
  • Only a small minority of users are stuck with older hardware that will not support 64-bit builds. [3]
  • It is a significant maintenance burden for Whonix ™ to maintain both 32-bit and 64-bit builds. [4]
  • Non-Qubes-Whonix 13 users (deprecated) who rely on 32-bit (i686) hardware are still able to use Whonix ™ 14, by using the upgrade instructions instead of downloading new images. [5] [6] [7]
  • Users could attempt to build a 32-bit version of Whonix ™ from source code, by appending the Whonix ™ build script parameter --arch i386.

Basics[edit]

During Whonix ™ build process, first a Debian raw image is created using grml-debootstrap. A raw image and not qcow2, vdi or vmdk, because creating a bootable raw image is difficult and there are no tools yet to create a qcow2, vdi or vmdk image from scratch.

When (also) using the --target virtualbox switch, the raw image gets converted to vdi. Then a VirtualBox virtual machine is created, the vdi added to it and exported. During export, VirtualBox unfortunately converts it to vmdk.

When (also) using the --target qcow2 switch, the raw image gets converted to qcow2.

Maintenance effort definition: Images need to be build, tested, signed, uploaded, maintained (updates), supported (triage bugs, answer questions).

32 bit vs 64 bit[edit]

64 bit builds can not be run on 32 bit computers, can not be run on computers without pae.

64 bit libvirt builds could probably not run in QEMU on 32 bit computers but QEMU support is deprecated since there is no Whonix ™ maintainer. See QEMU.

Old Situation[edit]

Qubes-Whonix ™ 13 official builds were 64 bit only.

Non-Qubes-Whonix ™ 13 official builds were 32 bit only. Maintenance effort included 6 images. Although build time, upload time and maintenance effort for Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ does not add up so much, because there is probably rarely need to update it (only when VM settings would change).

  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 32 bit ova
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 32 bit ova
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ ova
  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ libvirt

With additional 64 bit builds[edit]

If Whonix ™ offered additional official 64 bit builds next to 32 bit builds, maintenance effort would multiply two times.

Maintenance effort would include 10 images.

  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 32 bit ova
  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 64 bit ova
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 32 bit ova
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 64 bit ova
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ ova
  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Gateway ™ 64 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Workstation ™ 64 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ libvirt

non-Debian builds[edit]

Unrealistic in near future. Just for a fun thought experiment, imagine Whonix ™ offered official non-Debian, let's say for example Fedora based images.

  • Whonix ™-Debian-Gateway 32 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Gateway 64 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Workstation 32 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Workstation 64 bit ova
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ ova
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Gateway 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Gateway 64 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Workstation 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Debian-Workstation 64 bit libvirt
  • Whonix-Custom-Workstation ™ libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Gateway 32 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Gateway 64 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Workstation 32 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Workstation 64 bit ova
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Gateway 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Gateway 64 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Workstation 32 bit libvirt
  • Whonix ™-Fedora-Workstation 64 bit libvirt

Getting crowded. 18 Images.

How do other distributions solve this?[edit]

How do other distributions deal with 32 bit vs 64 bit, Gnome vs KDE? They provide installer DVDs. Whonix ™ can't do this, since we don't need only getting files installed, but also need the appropriate VM settings / files.

How do other distributions deal with ova vs libvirt? They don't ship any VM images. Leave this to the user. But this is what Whonix ™ does. Shipping pre-configured, ready to use VM images.

What could be attempted is

  • 1) getting Whonix ™ Debian packages merged into Debian and Fedora, which would be a lot work.
  • 2) contributing to Debian, so they're not only shipping DVD images, but also VM images.
  • 3) making Whonix ™ a blend of Debian and also letting debian's cdimage.debian.org infrastructure build Whonix ™ images.

Future[edit]

Update:
https://forums.whonix.org/t/state-of-offical-64-bit-builds/399/16

For now, the demand for 64 bit builds is too little. No longer shipping 32 bit builds would prevent many users from using Whonix ™, which already has high system demands.

Maintaining 10 images seems like too much maintenance burden for Patrick.

In meanwhile it is possible to create 64bit builds yourself from source code.

Maybe in future:

  • someone implements an automated test suite for Whonix ™ images (see also Tails's automated test suite).
  • checked for being verifiable gets automated on a build server among other stuff to ease development.
  • a Release Manager joins the project
  • a maintainer maintaining 64 bit ova builds joins the project
  • a maintainer maintaining 64 bit libvirt builds joins the project

Statistics[edit]

https://labs.riseup.net/code/issues/8183

Forum Discussion[edit]

https://forums.whonix.org/t/state-of-offical-64-bit-builds


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  1. https://phabricator.whonix.org/T91
  2. https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Debian-686-For-i386-CPUs
  3. For example in Tails, less than 10% of users had 32-bit kernels in late 2016.
  4. That is, Whonix ™ would need to maintain 10 images instead of the current 6 images.
  5. This is because none of the Whonix ™ packages were made 64-bit only.
  6. https://phabricator.whonix.org/T688#13700
  7. https://forums.whonix.org/t/state-of-offical-64-bit-builds/399