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How-to: Use Electrum Bitcoin Wallet in Whonix

Electrum is a popular Bitcoin wallet. The non-official thin client Electrum appears to be well-designed. It does not need to download/verify the blockchain and users store their private keys locally, which eliminates the need to trust third-party severs. [1]

Install Electrum[edit]

Functional Version[edit]


While it is strongly recommended to install software from the Debian repositories, the latest available package is too old and will not connect to public servers. This means Debian's official package manager (APT) cannot be used to install a functional Electrum version.

The best option at present is to install Electrum from the official website. The following instructions provide steps to verify the AppImage, but keep in mind the risks involved with manual software installation. Always make every effort to follow Best Practices when installing software. [5]

Installation Steps[edit]

Note: The following instructions should be applied in Whonix-Workstation (Qubes-Whonix: anon-whonix).

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 Menu -> Applications -> System -> Konsole

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

Start Menu -> Xfce Terminal

2. Import the gpg public key of Electrum developer Thomas Voegtlin.

gpg --recv-keys 6694D8DE7BE8EE5631BED9502BD5824B7F9470E6

When finished, the output should be similar to the following image.

Figure: gpg Key Importation

Electrum import gpg key.png

3. Verify the public key fingerprint.

gpg --fingerprint 6694D8DE7BE8EE5631BED9502BD5824B7F9470E6

In early-2019, the output is identical to the following image.

Figure: Fingerprint Verification

Electrum verify gpg fingerprint.png

4. Download the Electrum AppImage.

Note: At the time of writing, elecrtum-3.3.4 was the latest stable release. Before starting the Electrum download, browse to electrum.org/#download to verify the correct file path. Then download the file with scurl. [6]

scurl-download https://download.electrum.org/3.3.4/electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage

5. Download the corresponding gpg signature.

It is necessary to verify the integrity of the AppImage with the correct signature.

Note: If users downloaded a later Electrum version at step 4, then modify the following command to match the corresponding signature file. [7]

scurl-download https://download.electrum.org/3.3.4/electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage.asc

6. Verify the integrity of the AppImage image.

Note: This command must be run in the same directory as the downloaded AppImage and signature.

gpg --verify electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage.asc

If the image is verified successfully, the output will show a "Good signature" similar to the screenshot below.

Figure: Good Signature

Electrum gpg good signature.png

The above "gpg: WARNING" can be ignored since it does not alter the validity of the signature related to the downloaded key. Rather, this warning refers to the level of trust placed in the developers signing key and the web of trust. To remove this warning, the developers signing key must be personally signed with your own key.

If the following "gpg: BAD signature" message appears, the Appimage has been corrupted or altered during the download process.

Figure: Bad Signature

Electrum bad gpg signature.png

In this event, delete both the AppImage and signature and either wait 10-15 minutes for the Tor circuits to change, or open up the Arm Tor Controller in Whonix-Gateway (Qubes-Whonix: sys-whonix) and type "n" to create new Tor circuits. Wait for a random period of time before repeating the steps to download the AppImage and signature.

7. Change file permissions.

Make the electrum AppImage executable.

chmod +x electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage

Start Electrum[edit]


Please refer to the official Documentation at docs.electrum.org for comprehensive instructions, as well as more advanced topics like Cold Storage of private keys.

To start Electrum on all platforms, run.

./electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage

Qubes-Whonix users are recommended to configure a Split Bitcoin Wallet to better protect their private keys. To protect against identity correlation through Tor circuit sharing, follow the instructions below (see Stream Isolation for more information).

Electrum: First Run[edit]


1. Configure a manual server connection.

When Electrum is started for the first time, users are met with the prompt: "How do you want to connect to a server?".

Choose Select server manually and press Next.

Figure: Server Setting

Electrum select server manually.png

2. Change the proxy settings.

The necessary settings are:

  • Proxy: SOCKS5
  • Host: 10.152.152.10
  • Port: 9111

Press Next and the application should be fully functional.

Figure: SOCKS5 Proxy Configuration

Electrum use proxy socks5 .png

Note: If Electrum is already set up but stream isolation was not enabled, then navigate to Tools -> Network in Electrum to bring up the server and proxy settings.

Add Application Launcher to Start Menu[edit]


Create folder ~/.local/share/applications.

mkdir -p ~/.local/share/applications

Create a new file ~/.local/share/applications/electrum.desktop using an editor.

mousepad ~/.local/share/applications/electrum.desktop

Paste the following contents.

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Exec=/home/user/electrum-3.3.4-x86_64.AppImage
Name=electrum
Categories=Other

Save.

The procedure is now complete.

You can find the launcher here:

Start Menu -> Other -> electrum

Donations[edit]

After having installed Electrum, please consider making a donation to Whonix to keep it running for the years to come.

Donate Bitcoin (BTC) to Whonix.

3D7s3VY5QhV7zuZjMo1Rp6NsomKEcyzxby

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Some Bitcoin wallets other than Electrum are affected by this: if the third-party server was ever compromised, all of the users' bitcoins could be stolen. There is also the possibility that the third-party could lose a user's private keys or walk away with them.
  2. https://github.com/spesmilo/electrum/issues/5183
  3. https://github.com/spesmilo/electrum/issues/5190
  4. For further details, see: Github Electrum issues.
  5. To find the correct image download: "Right-click" AppImage -> "Select" Copy Link Location -> Append to scurl command.
  6. To find the correct signature file download: "Right-click" signature -> "Select" Copy Link Location -> "Append" to scurl command

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