Build Documentation: Physical Isolation

From Whonix

< Dev‎ | Build Documentation(Redirected from Dev/Build Documentation/Physical Isolation/8)



Ambox warning pn.svg.png Warning: It is essential to read the Security and Support Status, Warnings and First time user entries in conjunction with this chapter.

Ambox warning pn.svg.png Warning: There is build issue with version for physically isolated builds. [1] was reported [archive] to be functional.



A supported platform that can run Whonix ™. There are also others.

See also Physical Isolation #Security and Support Status.

The following instructions are for Non-Qubes-Whonix ™. For Qubes-Whonix ™ see: [archive]

Technical Introduction[edit]

When setting up Whonix ™ in the form of two Virtual Machines running on the same physical host, exploits targeting the VM implementation or the host can still break out of the torified Client VM and expose the IP of a user. Malware running on the host has full control over all VMs. To protect such attacks we need a different approach: In this context we called it Physical Isolation, because the gateway system is installed on separate hardware. This drastically reduces the TCB[2] by more than the half.

In total we'll be installing and configuring two computers and set up an isolated point to point network between them (you could also set up a an ordinary, completely isolated, LAN behind the Whonix-Gateway ™). One computer acts as the client or "Whonix-Workstation ™", the other as a proxy or "Whonix-Gateway ™" which will transparently route all of the Whonix-Workstation ™ traffic through Tor.

The Whonix-Gateway ™ on its own physical device can either run directly on hardware or inside a virtual machine. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. We recommend to use no additional Virtual Machine for the Whonix-Gateway ™.

The Whonix-Workstation ™ should always be installed in a Virtual Machine: A VM hides hardware serial numbers. See also Recommendation to use multiple VM Snapshots.

The host operating system(s) should only be used for downloading operating system updating, hosting Whonix-Gateway ™ or Whonix-Workstation ™ and nothing else.

Bonus points if the physical systems are exclusively used for hosting Whonix ™, or if storage devices are separated for Whonix ™ and non-Whonix ™ use cases, to avoid a Whonix ™ hard drive getting infected by a another operating system.

First time user?[edit]

Whonix / Kicksecure default admin password is: changeme default username: user
default password: changeme

Whonix first time users warning Warning:

  • If you do not know what metadata or a man-in-the-middle attack is.
  • If you think nobody can eavesdrop on your communications because you are using Tor.
  • If you have no idea how Whonix works.

Then read the Design and Goals, Whonix ™ and Tor Limitations and Tips on Remaining Anonymous pages to decide whether Whonix is the right tool for you based on its limitations.


WARNING: Less tested than VM builds. Needs your help for more rigid testing!

WARNING: Instructions are difficult. Only advanced Linux users can understand them.

WARNING: Dev/Build Anonymity has not been considered for this article.

WARNING: Do also read the warnings in the latest build instructions for VM images. Some of them, Don't add private files to Whonix ™ source code folder! and Check if the OpenPGP public keys are still up to date. also applies to the physical isolation page.

WARNING: This article currently lacks information about Whonix-Gateway ™ and Whonix-Workstation ™ MAC address. See also:

WARNING: Joanna Rutkowska [archive], security researcher, founder and developer emeritus of Qubes OS [archive] has completed a research paper comparing the security of software compartmentalization vs. physically separated computers [archive] (pdf). It concluded that in some cases, notably for specific, desktop-related workflows, Physical Isolation might be less secure than Qubes' compartmentalized approach. (See also: Qubes-Whonix ™.)

Using spare hardware + Virtual Machine[edit]


  • You can install a graphical host.
  • Use the Whonix ™ download version.
  • You can use the graphical network manager on the host, for example to connect to WiFi.
  • You can setup easily a VPN on the host. Tor will be tunneled through the VPN.


  • Higher attack surface, because the Virtual Machine code get's involved.

Using spare hardware without Virtual Machine[edit]


  • More secure, because less code is involved.


  • Slightly more complicated setup
  • More difficult to set up VPN
  • More difficult to set up 3G networking compared to using a Windows host



We recommend that you use two dedicated computers for Whonix ™ that are never used for activities that could lead back to your identity. Alternatively you can use an already existing and otherwise used computer for the Whonix-Gateway ™. To offer some isolation you should disconnect all internal and external drives and boot from a eSATA, USB or another internal drive into a clean environment.

non-anonymous use[edit]

  • non-anonymous box (leave it as it is, like you want)
  • non-anonymous home dial up internet router (leave it as it is, like you want)

anonymous use[edit]

  • Whonix-Gateway ™
    • This really does not have to be a big desktop computer or ordinary server. There are alternatives.
    • smartphone [3],
    • UMPC[4]
    • pad, tablet,
    • notebook, netbook,
    • Raspberry Pi[5]: needs contributor, development thread [archive]
    • router [6],
    • set top box,
    • etc.
    • how to utilize such a device as a linux server is beyond the scope of this guide, there are already better resources
  • anonymous 3G modem (see below) or anonymous wifi adapter (see below)
  • Whonix-Workstation ™
    • You get the idea. Use a device which suits you.

Before installing[edit]

Read and apply the Pre-Installation Security Advice.


  • System Requirements
  • Whonix-Gateway ™: A device with at least two network adapters, at least one of them ethernet [7], capable of running Linux. It will run Debian. [8]
  • Whonix-Workstation ™: A device connected via ethernet to the Whonix-Gateway ™. It must only have this one NIC and no other network connectivity! Must be connected by wire.[9] This will be the torified client system or Whonix-Workstation ™. It must be capable of running Debian.[10]
  • We recommend to use a VM as the client, the same Whonix-Workstation ™, that most non Physical Isolation users use. [11] [12] [13]
  • Host build environment has a working internet connection to Debian mirrors.
  • Optionally, it would be useful, if you knew how to open a second virtual console.

Host Preparation[edit]

  • You need to build on Debian buster. (How to obtain Debian safely: [14]) [15]
  • It is recommended to set your terminal (for example Konsole) to unlimited scrollback, so you can watch the full build log.
  • Install build dependencies and get the source code.

Update the package lists.

sudo apt-get update

Install build dependencies.

sudo apt-get install git time curl apt-cacher-ng lsb-release fakeroot dpkg-dev

System Preparation[edit]

  • Debian buster installed.
  • User account user exists.

Become root. [16]


Install sudo and adduser package.

1. Update the package lists.

apt-get update

2. Upgrade the system.

apt-get dist-upgrade

3. Install sudo and adduser package.

apt-get install --no-install-recommends sudo adduser

The following commands need to be run either by root or use sudo. [17]

Create group console.

/usr/sbin/addgroup --system console

Add user user to group console.

/usr/sbin/adduser user console

Add user user to group sudo.

/usr/sbin/adduser user sudo



How To Install Whonix-Gateway ™ on the Raspberry Pi 3 B (RPI3)[edit]

Get the source (see below).

From inside the Whonix ™ source folder run:

sudo ./whonix_build --target raw --flavor whonix-gateway-rpi --build --arch arm64 --kernel linux-image-arm64 --headers linux-headers-arm64

After a succesful build burn the whonix_gw_rpi.img to a micro SD card using gnome-disk-utility.

  1. Within gnome-disk-utility select the SD card.
  2. At the top panel select options (next to the poweroff button).
  3. Click restore disk image and choose the respective file.
  4. Click start restoring and wait until it is finished.
  5. Put the SD card into the RPI3, attach an HDMI monitor, an USB-ethernet adapter as well as a keyboard and boot it.

After login run:

sudoedit /etc/network/interfaces.d/30_non-qubes-whonix

and change the address and the gateway of eth0 corresponding to your local network / upstream router. As an example our ISP router uses for the internal network. The settings of eth0 would look like the following:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static

By default eth0 is the native ethernet connection of the RPI3. Hence, connect a network cable from there to your router. eth1 is the USB-ethernet adapter which should also be connected via cable to the computer running the workstation. Since the RPI3 is lacking a real time clock you need to set the date manually to the current UTC time. Example:

sudo date -s "09 NOV 2019 17:00:00"


sudo service networking restart


sudo service tor restart

to connect to the Tor network. Depending on your hypervisor you need to change network settings on the Workstation in order to connect it to the gateway (see below).

How To Install Whonix-Gateway ™ on Hardware (RECOMMENDED)[edit]

Get Debian[edit]

Download a Debian buster 32 bit installation iso. Detailed instructions doing so are unfortunately not part of this guide. However, the Debian page contains some help.

You can choose iso of any desktop environment (KDE, LXDE, Xfce, ...) but since you'll be using the command line, Debian buster network install (netinst) version is recommended (it is the most minimal).

(You could also use a Debian buster 64 bit installation iso, these instructions should also work, but it is less tested.)

Install Debian[edit]

In the installer boot menu of Debian buster press "Install" and choose following settings:

Select a language: English
Select your location: United States
Configure the keyboard: (select yours)
Hostname: host
Domain name: (empty)
Root password: (set up a strong password)
Full name for the new user: user
Username for your account: user
Password for the new user: (choose a good password, different from root password)
Partitioning method: Guided - use entire disk (it is a good idea to set up cryptsetup encrypted LVM at this point)
Partitioning scheme: All files in one partition (select the listed device in the next step)
Partition disks/overview: Finish partitioning
Write changes to disk: Yes

Debian archive mirror country: Go back
Continue without a network mirror: Yes

Use a network mirror: No
Participate in the package usage survey: No
Software selection: None; deselect all options (using Space)
Install the GRUB boot loader: Yes (select the listed device in the next step)
Finish the installation: Continue


If you are interested in seeing a visual walk-through of the minimal installation of Debian buster, click on Expand on the right.

In the menu select "Install"


Set language as English.


Set location as United States.


Select your keyboard.


Installing additional content.


Network will auto-configure (hopefully).


Set the hostname to "host".


Leave the domain name empty.


Pick a strong root password.


Reenter the password.


Full name should should be "user".


Username should also be "user".


Enter a strong user password.


Reenter the password.


Network time procedure.


Use a guided partitioning method with the whole disk (FDE is a good idea if you plan to use physical isolation or as your main system).


Select the suggested disk.


Partition all files in one partition.


Finish partitioning.


Confirm the changes.


It takes a few minutes to get the base system installed.

39.png 40.png

We don't need any extra packages so don't select a mirror, "Go back".


Confirm that you want to continue without a mirror.


Configuring apt.


"No thanks" to survey participation.


Deselect (no star) the given option (using Space).

45.png 46.png

Install GRUB.


Select your disk.


Finishing the installation.


Done! The system will reboot.


OS screen.


Login screen.



If you are interested in configuring a custom encryption algorithm to enhance security during the minimal installation of Debian buster, click on Expand on the right.

1. Under "Partitioning method", select Manual

2. Select the disk you are installing to and press enter, then select <Yes> to create a new empty partition table.

3. Select the "FREE SPACE" of the drive you are installing to, press Enter, "Create a new partition" should already be selected; press Enter again.

4. Now create a boot partition. This is the unencrypted partition your system boots from. The standard is 254.8 MB. Type "254.8 MB" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

5. Under "Type for the new partition:", Primary should already be selected, press Enter again; Under "Location for the new partition: "Beginning" should already be selected, press Enter again to go to the Partition settings screen.

Use the following settings for your boot partition:

Use as:         Ext2 file system

Mount point:       /boot
Mount options:    noatime
Label:                 none
Reserved blocks:  5%
Typical Usage:     standard
Bootable flag:      on    

Then select "Done setting up the partition" and press Enter, you will be brought back to the main partitioning menu.

6. Select "Configure encrypted volumes" and press Enter, then select <Yes> when asked to write the changes to disk and configure encrypted volumes.

7. Create encrypted volumes should already be selected, press Enter and select the free space of the drive you are installing to by pressing the spacebar, then select <Continue> and press Enter again. Additional components will load, then you will be brought to the configuration page for your encrypted partition. Here you can customize your encryption settings.

Use as:      physical volume for encryption
Encryption method:   Device-mapper (dm-crypt)

Encryption: twofish 
[Recommend "twofish" and "serpent" as alternatives. "Serpent" is the slowest and only recommended if you have a fast system (and a fast drive), as it creates a lot of system overhead. "Twofish" is an algorithm created by Bruce Schneier, and is a lot faster, computationally-speaking. For most use-cases, "twofish" should be sufficient as an alternative algorithm]
Key size:     256 (leave as-is)
IV algorithm:  xts-plain64 
[for most use-cases, xts-plain64 should be sufficient. Do not change this unless you know what you are doing. You could inadvertently create a security hole]
Encryption key: Passphrase (leave as-is)
Erase data: yes (this will wipe the partition)
Bootable flag: off  

8. After you have completed your configuration, select "Done setting up this partition", and press Enter, then select <Yes> and press enter to write the changes to disk, then on the next screen select "Finish", and press Enter.

9. It is highly recommended that you erase the partition before you continue. Please note this may take a while for large drives. If you have already securely wiped your device before starting this installation, you can skip this step. To erase the partition, select <Yes> and press enter.

10. Choose a strong password. This password should be at LEAST 26 characters, including symbols. Remember: the stronger your password, the stronger your encryption. The weaker the password, the weaker your encryption. After entering your password and confirming it, you will be brought back to the main partitioning menu.

11. Under your new "Encrypted volume" (which should be at the top of the list), highlight the partition that was just created under it (it should say ext4), and press Enter. Under "Use as:", change this to "physical volume for LVM", and press Enter, then select "Done setting up the partition", and press Enter again to be brought back to the main partitioning menu.

12. Now select "Configure the Logical Volume Manager" and press Enter.

13. Highlight "Create volume group", and press Enter. Under "Volume group name:", enter HOST_VG, and press Enter.

14. Use the spacebar to select your encrypted partition, then select <Continue> and press Enter.

(Optional) SWAP USERS:

O1. Now create your swap partition. Highlight "Create logical volume" and press Enter, then select HOST_VG and press Enter again. Type SWAP, press Enter.

O2. Enter your volume size (2.5 GB is usually a good standard size for most systems) then select <Continue> and press Enter.

15. Highlight "Create logical volume" and press Enter, then select HOST_VG and press Enter again. Type ROOT, press Enter.

16. Under the "Logical volume size:", your entire volume should already be displayed, press Enter again.

17. Highlight "Finish", then press Enter to be brought back to the main partitioning menu.

18. You should see your new partition for ROOT displayed on this screen [LVM VG HOST_VG, LV ROOT - xxx.x GB Linux device-mapper (linear)]. Select the partition underneath the heading and press Enter

19. Change "do not use" to the filing system of your choice. Ext4 is good for most installations. XFS is more suitable for filesystems on top of encryption and is more robust with better performance. For the purposes of this documentation, the following configuration is provided:

Use as:             XFS journaling file system

Mount point:     / 
Mount options: defaults
Label:               none

20. Once you're done, select "Done setting up this partition", and press Enter to return to the main partitioning menu.

(Optional) SWAP USERS:

O1. You should see your new partition for SWAP displayed on this screen [LVM VG HOST_VG, LV SWAP - 2.5 GB Linux device-mapper (linear)]. Select the partition underneath the heading and press Enter.

O2. Change "do not use" to "swap area", and press Enter. Then select "Done setting up the partition" to return to the main partitioning menu.

21. Highlight "Finish partitioning and write changes to disk" and press Enter, then select <Yes> when asked to confirm the changes. Your installation will continue automatically.

Network Configuration[edit]

The external interface (usually eth0) may need to be configured according to the requirements of your local network, e.g. static or simply left to use dhcp if the gateway is connected to a dhcp capable router. For wlan follow the upstream documentations: debian wiki [archive], Ubuntu help [archive].

Make sure the internet is working.

Logon and upgrade Debian[edit]

Logon, install all security updates and reboot.

Login with "root"

Add a new repository source.

echo "deb buster main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

Add a new repository source. TODO: Is this needed?

echo "deb buster/updates main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

Refresh package lists and upgrade.

apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade -y

Firmware Updating and Security Problems[edit]

As per Firmware_Security_and_Updates#Firmware_Updating_and_Security_Problems.

Update the package lists.

sudo apt-get update

For Intel.

sudo apt-get install intel-microcode

For AMD.

sudo apt-get install amd64-microcode


Install sudo and git. [18]

## Install "sudo" and git.
apt-get install sudo git -y

You must build as user "user" and that user must be a member of the "sudo" group. Rebooting applies the changes.

## Add "user" to "sudo" group
addgroup user sudo

## Reboot the system
shutdown -r now

## (host) login with "user"

You may want to take an image of your installation in case the build script fails in the middle.

Get the Source Code[edit]

Get the Signing Key[edit]

This step is recommended for better security, but is not strictly required. (See Trust.)

Get Whonix ™ Signing Key.

Get the Source Code[edit]


Ambox warning pn.svg.png By proceeding, you acknowledge that you have read, understood and agreed to our Terms of Service and License Agreement. Ambox warning pn.svg.png

Install git.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install git

Get source code including git submodules. [19] [20]

Note: Replace with the actual tag you want to build.

git clone --depth=1 --branch --jobs=4 --recurse-submodules --shallow-submodules

OpenPGP Verify the Source Code[edit]

This chapter is recommended for better security, but is not strictly required.[21]

Git fetch. [22]

git fetch

Verify the chosen tag to build. Replace with tag you want to build.

Note: Replace with the actual tag you want to build.

git verify-tag

The output should look similar to this.

object 1844108109a5f2f8bddcf2257b9f3675be5cfb22

type commit tag tagger Patrick Schleizer <> 1392320095 +0000

. gpg: Signature made Thu 13 Feb 2014 07:34:55 PM UTC using RSA key ID 77BB3C48

gpg: Good signature from "Patrick Schleizer <>" [ultimate]

warning Check the GPG signature timestamp makes sense. For example, if you previously saw a signature from 2020 and now see a signature from 2019, then this might be a targeted rollback (downgrade) or indefinite freeze attack. [23]

The warning.

gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature! gpg: There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.

Is explained on the Whonix Signing Key page and can be safely ignored.

By convention, git tags should point to signed git commits. [24] (forum discussion [archive]) It is advisable to verify the signature of the git commit as well (replace with the actual git tag being verified).

git verify-commit^{commit}

The output should look similar to this.

commit 5aa1c307c943be60e7d2bfa5727fa5ada3a79c4a

gpg: Signature made Sun 07 Dec 2014 01:22:22 AM UTC using RSA key ID 77BB3C48 gpg: Good signature from "Patrick Schleizer <>" [ultimate] Author: Patrick Schleizer <> Date: Sun Dec 7 01:22:22 2014 +0000


Choose Version[edit]

Retrieve a list of available git tags.

git --no-pager tag

Use git checkout to select the preferred version to build.

Note: Replace with the actual tag you want to build.

git checkout --recurse-submodules

Check Git[edit]

Check if you really got the version you want.

git describe

Should show:

Check if source folder is pristine.

git status

Should show nothing.

HEAD detached at
nothing to commit, working tree clean

If it shows something else, do not continue.

Optional Build Configuration[edit]

See also Optional Build Configuration.

Network Verification[edit]

Before running the whonix_build script make sure eth1 and eth0 refer to the correct interfaces.

## May be helpful.
dmesg | grep eth

If you are using non-default network interface names, please click on Expand on the right.

Should be doable using non-default network interface names as well. Not as easy. Not fully documented. Untested.

One way would be to figure out how to change a network interface name such as wlan0 to eth0.

Otherwise you could consider to change the network interface names in the configuration files. To find the components that require configuration changes in the Whonix ™ source folder, the following commands may be helpful. Should be really only a very few files. We used variables for eth0 and eth1 wherever possible.

exclude=" --exclude=control --exclude=changelog.upstream --exclude-dir=.git --exclude-dir=whonix-developer-meta-files --exclude-dir=build-steps.d --exclude-dir=qubes-whonix"
grep $exclude -r eth0 ~/{{project_name_short}}
grep $exclude -r eth1 ~/{{project_name_short}}
grep -l $exclude -r eth0 ~/{{project_name_short}}
grep -l $exclude -r eth1 ~/{{project_name_short}}

Should you decide to edit these files in Whonix ™ source folder, note to apply the build parameters from #Source Code Changes as well.

Another, perhaps better option might be to change the network interface names after Whonix ™ build script finished.

For example /home/user/Whonix/packages/whonix-ws-network-conf/etc/network/interfaces.d/30_non-qubes-whonix becomes /etc/network/interfaces.d/30_non-qubes-whonix.


Do not edit. We use a drop-in config snippet instead.


Use a drop-in config snippet instead.

Open file /etc/whonix_firewall.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_firewall.d/50_user.conf

Add. Replace eth0 with your actual external network interface name as well as eth1 with your actual internal network interface name.




Manual edit required.

Open file /etc/network/interfaces.d/30_non-qubes-whonix' 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/network/interfaces.d/30_non-qubes-whonix'

Replace interface names.



Do not edit. Use a drop-in config snippet instead.

Required for Whonix-Workstation ™ in Whonix ™ 14 and above only.

Open file /etc/uwt.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/uwt.d/50_user.conf

Add. Replace eth0 interface name.



Not important. Manual edit required.


Manual edit required. Will break when whonixcheck gets upgraded. Then it needs to be edited again. This will be configurable in Whonix ™ 14 so the setting survives whonixcheck upgrades.


Do not edit. Use a drop-in config snippet instead.

Use any editor of your choice.

sudo EDITOR=nano visudo -f /etc/sudoers.d/whonixcheck-user

Add. Replace eth0 and eth1 with your network interface names.

whonixcheck ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/ifconfig eth0
whonixcheck ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/ifconfig eth1



Systemd may fail to start onion-grater if this file isn't configured properly. Replace any appearances of old interface names with your corresponding interface names. Restart onion-grater.service and confirm active status.

TODO: better use a drop-in /usr/lib/systemd/system/onion-grater.service.d/50_user.conf. See Configuration Files.

systemctl restart onion-grater.service
systemctl status onion-grater.service

Minor Things[edit]

Most configuration files work well inside Virtual Machines and on hardware. Only minor things such as deactivating powersaving, passwordless reboot, shutdown etc. are only recommended for Virtual Machines. You can easily comment them out by putting a hash # in front of them. They are marked, to find them, grep can be used. Skip this for now. You can change these files later after building Whonix ™. (Simpler.)

grep -r VMONLY* *

Run Build Script[edit]

It is recommended that you create a log of the build process by redirecting all the output to a log file. Be aware that by doing so no build progress will appear on the screen - instead a text log file will be created in your home folder.

sudo ./whonix_build --flavor whonix-gateway-xfce --target root --build >> ~/log-phyiso 2>&1

To optionally watch the progress, open a second virtual console and type.

tail -f ~/log-phyiso

If don't want to create a log of the build process (the build progress will then appear on screen) use the following command.

This is not recommended because if anything goes wrong during the build, it will be harder to pinpoint the exact error without the actual log file.

sudo ./whonix_build --flavor whonix-gateway --target root --build

Final Steps[edit]


sudo reboot

Login as new user "user". (If you didn't install as user "user", your old user and home folder does of course still exist.)




Remove temporary files.

WARNING: This will run git clean -d --force --force in Whonix's main source code folder [archive] (~/Whonix) as well as in all sub folders of the Whonix packages folder [archive] ~/Whonix/packages. This means, if you knowingly added any files to any of these folders that have not been committed to git, these will be deleted.



How To Install Whonix-Gateway ™ in a VM (UNTESTED / NOT RECOMMENDED)[edit]

It is advised to install a new OS just for hosting the Gateway VM, any OS that can run VirtualBox works but we recommend an Open Source system.

Download the Whonix-Gateway ™ image. (Or build it from source code.)

Adapter 1 can be set up as a NAT network. Adapter 2 must either be set to NAT as well (but you will need to forward ports from the host to the guest) or much simpler: use bridged networking and set it to the second physical interface (the one that goes into the isolated network/point to point ethernet). See "NAT vs Bridging" below.

This configuration is entirely untested and not recommended unless you need to run Tor through an unsupported 3G modem and can't afford a 3rd physical device.

When using NAT for a virtualized Gateway you need to set up port forwarding in VirtualBox. Using bridged network may be easier, but then the router may see the Whonix-Gateway ™ MAC address which identifies as Whonix-Gateway ™. (Should not be of concern in home networks. Should be of concern in untrusted networks or when using a modem to connect.)

Install Whonix-Workstation ™ in a VM (RECOMMENDED)[edit]

First Steps[edit]

Install and update a host operating system. On the host can run any OS that is capable of running VirtualBox, but be aware of Transparent Proxy Leaks [archive]. It is recommended against to use Windows or another other commercial proprietary system as host operating system.

Download the Whonix-Workstation ™ image. (Or build it from source code.)

Note sure what we wanted to say with this sentence: If the physical network (between Whonix-Gateway ™ and a router) uses 10.152.152.* you need to review and edit all shell scripts and switch the internal network to something else!

Host Network Adapter[edit]

The host has to be configured to use the static IP configuration.

## {{workstation_product_name}}
## /etc/network/interfaces for the host,
## when using Physical Isolation,
## with {{workstation_product_name}} in a VM.

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
   ## Increment last octet of address
   ## on optional additional hosts.
   #pre-up /usr/bin/whonix_firewall

   ## Out commented.
   ## For what do we require the network and broadcast
   ## instances anyway?

#auto eth0
#iface eth0 inet dhcp

## end of /etc/network/interfaces

If the physical network (between Whonix-Gateway ™ and a router) uses 10.152.152.* you need to review and edit all /etc/network/interfaces.

NAT vs Bridging[edit]

Two Choices[edit]

In the default Whonix ™ VirtualBox image, the network adapter setting for Adapter 1 (eth0) is set to internal network and will therefore not work out of the box. There are two choices to fix this. NAT (recommended) or bridged network.


If you use NAT you will have to edit the /etc/network/interfaces in Whonix-Workstation ™ to use DHCP (easier, shown in the example below) or a static IP for VirtualBox NAT.

sudoedit /etc/network/interfaces

Replace it with.

## {{workstation_product_name}}
## /etc/network/interfaces in a VM
## when using Physical Isolation.

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

## end of /etc/network/interfaces

Bridged Network (UNTESTED / NOT RECOMMENDED)[edit]

If you use bridged networking things will (or should, we haven't tested anything yet) just work.

Since in the bridged network case, Whonix-Workstation ™ can see the MAC address of whatever network adapter it is connected to, you should change the MAC address of the Workstation host and of the Whonix-Gateway ™.

See Whonix ™ in public networks.

Macvtap on KVM[edit]

Change the network source of the ethernet nic to "macvtap" and the source mode to "passthrough" Be aware, you can't use networking on the host anymore.

Attach an USB-ethernet adapter to the VM[edit]

Remove the network adapter from the VM and instead attach an USB-ethernet adapter to the host and redirect it to the VM.

Install Whonix-Workstation ™ on hardware (NOT RECOMMENDED)[edit]

Install Whonix-Workstation ™ on hardware without using a VM is recommended against, because hardware serials would be visible to Whonix-Workstation ™.

The instructions are very similar, if not the very same, to those in "How To Install Whonix-Gateway ™ on hardware" above. You have to use --flavor whonix-workstation instead of --flavor whonix-gateway.

Expected Build Warnings[edit]

dpkg-source: warning: extracting unsigned source package
dpkg-source: warning: extracting unsigned source package (anon-gw-anonymizer-config_5.0-1.dsc)


This does not affect the build. [26]

Can not write log, openpty() failed (/dev/pts not mounted?)

This does not affect the build. [27]

[....] Your system does not have the CPU extensions required to use KVM. Not doing anything. ...[ FAIL ]

This does not affect the build. [28]

[....] Stopping VirtualBox kernel modules [ ok ].
[....] Starting VirtualBox kernel modules[....] No suitable module for running kernel found ...[ FAIL ]
invoke-rc.d: initscript virtualbox, action "restart" failed.

This does not affect the build. [29]

WARNING: The character device /dev/vboxdrv does not exist.
	 Please install the virtualbox-ose-dkms package and the appropriate
	 headers, most likely linux-headers-486.

	 You will not be able to start VMs until this problem is fixed.

This does not affect the build. [30]

dpkg: warning: failed to open configuration file '/root/.dpkg.cfg' for reading: Permission denied

This does not affect the build. [31]

sudo: unable to resolve host host

This does not affect the build. [32]

Related forum topic:
Expected Build Warnings [archive]

After installing[edit]

Further required reading: Documentation. The host security chapter applies to both computers!

Read and apply the Post Installation Security Advice.

Stay tuned[edit]

It is absolutely crucial to subscribe to and read the latest Whonix ™ news category 'important-news' to stay in touch with ongoing developments. This way users benefit from notifications concerning important security advisories, potential upgrade issues and improved releases which address identified issues, like those affecting the updater or other core elements.

See Stay Tuned.

Extra packages for better hardware support[edit]

Some packages for bare metal may or may not be missing. Here is a probably incomplete list of packages, which may or may not be useful for better hardware support. Some suggestions.







apt-cache show task-desktop
apt-cache show task-kde-desktop
apt-cache show task-laptop

If you have EFI bios.


To get a more complete list, install Debian (with KDE) on bare metal using the regular Debian installer medium.

  • diff "dpkg -l" with Whonix
  • diff "sudo lsmod" with Whonix
  • contribute your findings


  • Slow network speed? Eventually it is the fault of your wifi driver? We had such a report [archive] in the forum.
  • No connection between Whonix-Gateway ™ and Whonix-Workstation ™? Could have something to do with Auto-MDIX [archive]. We had such a report [archive] in the forum.

Known bugs[edit]

All Platforms[edit]

"apt-get source package" will show "dpkg-source: warning: failed to verify signature"[edit]

This is not a security issue, but only a warning. Read the entire thread here [archive] for more information.

This warning message can be removed with the following workaround below.

1. Modify /etc/dpkg/origins/default

sudo unlink /etc/dpkg/origins/default

sudo ln -s /etc/dpkg/origins/debian /etc/dpkg/origins/default

2. Download the source package.

apt-get source package

3. Undo afterwards to prevent unexpected issues.

sudo unlink /etc/dpkg/origins/default

sudo ln -s /etc/dpkg/origins/whonix /etc/dpkg/origins/default

Proxychains Tor Browser Issue[edit]

Using Tor Browser in conjunction with proxychains for the connection scheme: UserTorProxyInternet
does not currently work. For more information, see here.


ATA Freeze[edit]

If you see the following error and freezing.

433.348893] mptscsih: ioc0: attempting target reset! (sc=ffff81021b950940)
433.348896] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: ATA command pass through(16): 85 08
0e 00 d5 00 01 00 09 00 4f 00 c2 00 b0 00
433.605026] mptscsih: ioc0: target reset: SUCCESS (sc=ffff81021b950940

It is a known [archive] issue and hardware-specific - VirtualBox upstream bug report: [archive]
This cannot be fixed by the Whonix team and patches are required.

It has been reported [archive] that running from an internal HDD/SSD works better than running from external devices.
One workaround might be avoiding high load on your host operating system. If this bug causes a lot of problems, then your only option is to switch to another platform.


Non-Qubes-Whonix ™ means all Whonix ™ platforms except Qubes-Whonix ™. This includes Whonix ™ KVM, Whonix ™ VirtualBox and Whonix ™ Physical Isolation.

Mounting (CD / DVD) Devices[edit]

If the device auto mounter is broken, see if Start menuSystem SettingsRemovable Media helps.

The following workaround can be used.

sudo mkdir /mnt/cdrom

sudo mount -o ro /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom/

Using the ro flag will mount the CD / DVD in read-only mode. If a CD / DVD is not being mounted, then drop the "-o ro" parameter.

Forum discussion: [archive]

Help fixing this bug is welcome! (ticket [archive])

Network Manager Systray Unmanaged Devices[edit]

Network manger question mark.png Short answer: Unmanaged devices are unrelated to Whonix functioning and should not concern the user.
Long answer: [33]

Suspend / Hibernate Issues[edit]

Short: Avoid suspending or hilbernating the computer or Whonix VMs while Whonix is running.

Long: Network Time Syncing, Clock Fix. [34]

VLC / Video Player Crash[edit]

The following workaround can be used; this is the default in recent builds (like Whonix 14). [35]


Security and Support Status[edit]

Whonix ™ Physical Isolation has no dedicated contributor. It is a leftover from previous times, where no other supported platforms were supported. This setup, these instructions still work. Some users are still using them. But Patrick's focus has now moved to Qubes. Grave security issues are unlikely due to Whonix ™ design. There is no Whonix ™ contributors member testing Whonix ™ physical isolation. No progress on the Whonix ™ Physical Isolation development task list [archive] should be expected. That's why the supported platforms table lists Physical Isolation in the column 'security' with 'experimental'.

Help Wanted[edit]

Footnotes / References[edit]

  1. [archive]
  2. [archive]
  3. Just some hints to get started. It is difficult and beyond the scope of Whonix ™, because you don't have an Ethernet interface. Some (after market) firmwares support USB-host. (You can plug USB devices into your phone, such as an USB ethernet card. For example some rooted android smartphones can install [archive] Debian Linux.
  4. [archive]
  5. [archive]
  6. something like OpenWRT
  7. The other one may be either an Anonymous 3G modem; Anonymous WiFi adapter, another ethernet or wifi connected to your modem/router.
  8. Theoretically you could use any OS that supports iptables or pf. If you don't want to use Debian you will have to edit the source code. This will be easy for Debian derivatives but much more difficult for *BSD for example. In any case, the choice of OS shouldn't really matter because this system is not used for anything but running Tor. A cheap plug computer, something like Raspberry Pi or the hardware used by Torouter would be sufficient.
  9. If you don't connect by wire, you significantly weaken isolation and security. One the Whonix-Workstation ™ were infected, it could jump onto another network and start leaking.
  10. Any OS can be used. But this is not recommended! If you do anyway, read warning, especially for Windows: Transparent Proxy Leaks [archive].
  11. From the Download page or build it yourself from source code.
  12. A generic VM image can neither leak identifying hardware serial numbers nor unique software fingerprints. (e.g. trough software updates [archive]).
  13. This ensures that you get the latest security features and most secure configurations. (Such as stream isolation that protects against Identity correlation through circuit sharing, HexChat IRC hardening or Whonix ™ Protocol-Leak-Protection and Fingerprinting-Protection etc.)
  14. Debian ISO OpenPGP verification
  15. The build scripts could be adapted to run on other *NIX systems as well but currently they assume apt-get and grml-debootstrap to be available. You need about 15 GB of free space.
  16. One way or another.
  17. Required to use full path to addgroup, adduser, reboot because when using su the PATH environment variable is not adjusted for use with root rights. See echo "$PATH". user rights PATH:

    root rights PATH:


    When using sudo using /full/path/to/application is not required.

  18. You need git to obtain the source code. Alternatively, you could also download a git tag as an archive using a (torified) browser: [archive]
  19. Optional git parameters:
    • --depth=1: Used to speed up download.
    • --branch Usability. Used to speed up download.
    • --jobs=4: Used to speed up download.
    • --recurse-submodules --shallow-submodules: Usability.
    Knowledgeable users of git are free to drop any of these optional parameters.
  20. Alternative command. In several steps. Useful in case of network issues.
    git clone --depth=1 --branch

    cd Whonix

    git submodule update --init --recursive --progress --jobs=4

  21. See Trust.
  22. Optional. [...]
  23. As defined by TUF: Attacks and Weaknesses:
  24. Beginning from git tag 9.6 and above.
  25. [archive]
  26. [archive]
  27. This is nothing to be concerned about; it only happens because commands are run inside chroot. Research of this "issue" indicates it is purely cosmetic.
  28. KVM is installed as a dependency of the build dependency libguestfs-tools. KVM is not needed to build the actual images.
  29. This only means that VirtualBox cannot be started. VirtualBox kernel modules could not be compiled because the linux-headers-$(uname -r) package was not installed prior to installing VirtualBox (before starting Whonix's build script). The build script doesn't start VirtualBox, hence does not affect the build. The build script only uses VBoxManage for creation of virtual machine description files and that tool doesn't need VirtualBox kernel modules.
  30. This is caused by the same issue referenced above.
  31. This happens because debuild is run as user, not root. It is probably a bug in dpkg. Research of this issue reveals there are many similar bugs in dpkg.
  32. Hostname inside VM image gets changed intentionally to host inside the VM image. The cause probably is package anon-base-files postinst running hostname "$my_host_name" / hostname host. This change should only happen inside the change root chroot. We might get rid of this issue by porting form chroot to systemd-nspawn, but it is not very important.
  33. Whonix does not use network manager to manage either eth0 or eth1. It is unnecessary to port to network manager at this point, because there is no reason besides this issue. Ifupdown has functioned admirably in Whonix for a long time and is well tested. It is unclear if network manager, specifically cli, is ready for the prime time yet. Network manager is simply reporting information that it does not manage these devices; this is not an error.
    To reduce confusion, the ideal Whonix default would either: prevent the systray item starting, hide the systray item, or suppress the information being presented. Network manager is installed so users can easily setup VPNs with its intuitive graphical user interface.
    All attempts to fix this long-standing issue have failed. Help is welcome to fix it.
    Fix Unmanaged Devices Network Manager [archive]
  34. [archive]

text=Jobs in USA
Jobs in USA

Search engines: YaCy | Qwant | ecosia | MetaGer | peekier | Whonix ™ Wiki

Follow: 1024px-Telegram 2019 Logo.svg.png Iconfinder Apple Mail 2697658.png Twitter.png Facebook.png Rss.png Reddit.jpg 200px-Mastodon Logotype (Simple).svg.png

Support: 1024px-Telegram 2019 Logo.svg.png Discourse logo.png Matrix logo.svg.png

Donate: Donate Bank Wire Paypal Bitcoin accepted here Monero accepted here Contriute

Whonix donate bitcoin.png Monero donate Whonix.png United Federation of Planets 1000px.png

Twitter-share-button.png Facebook-share-button.png Telegram-share.png link=mailto:?subject=Dev/Build Documentation/Physical Isolation&body= link= Documentation/Physical Isolation link= Documentation/Physical Isolation link= Documentation/Physical Isolation%20 Documentation/Physical Isolation

Do you wonder why Whonix ™ will always be free? Check out Why Whonix ™ is Freedom Software.

https link onion link

This is a wiki. Want to improve this page? Help is welcome and volunteer contributions are happily considered! Read, understand and agree to Conditions for Contributions to Whonix ™, then Edit! Edits are held for moderation. Policy of Whonix Website and Whonix Chat and Policy On Nonfreedom Software applies.

Copyright (C) 2012 - 2021 ENCRYPTED SUPPORT LP. Whonix ™ is a trademark. Whonix ™ is a licensee [archive] of the Open Invention Network [archive]. Unless otherwise noted, the content of this page is copyrighted and licensed under the same Freedom Software license as Whonix ™ itself. (Why?)

The personal opinions of moderators or contributors to the Whonix ™ project do not represent the project as a whole.

Whonix ™ is a derivative of and not affiliated with Debian [archive]. Debian is a registered trademark [archive] owned by Software in the Public Interest, Inc [archive].

Whonix ™ is produced independently from the Tor® [archive] anonymity software and carries no guarantee from The Tor Project [archive] about quality, suitability or anything else.

By using our website, you acknowledge that you have read, understood and agreed to our Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, Terms of Service, and E-Sign Consent. Whonix ™ is provided by ENCRYPTED SUPPORT LP. See Imprint, Contact.

By using our website, you acknowledge that you have read, understood and agreed to our Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, Terms of Service, and E-Sign Consent.