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History of Whonix[edit]

Originally called TorBOX, called aos (which stood for anonymous operating system) in meanwhile and finally renamed to Whonix.

TorBOX didn't start as a software project. Originally it was only a wiki site. The goal was to simplify the instructions how to use Tor as a Transparent Proxy (w). Patrick Schleizer was amazed by the idea, to have a (virtual) machine where all traffic is routed through Tor and where IP or DNS leaks are impossible with the additional benefit, that there are no proxy settings for any applications necessary anymore. Check the first version of the torproject.org TorBOX wiki site (w) how simple it looked like, that was on 2012-01-11 (2012 January 11).

Quickly other contributors improved the article. You can check that using torproject.org's wiki history feature (w). The TorBOX wiki site grew steady in size, information and complexity. Given the complexity of the required steps, it was necessary to provide leak tests, which was done by smarm. Anonymous created a shell script to do the many steps in an automated way. Anonymous created the first downloadable TorBOX images as well. In the past we had separate articles for manual creation of TorBOX, building using the shell scripts and using the downloads. It became to much overhead to maintain the comprehensive manual instructions to build TorBOX while updating the shell scripts as well. The TorBOX developers agreed to drop the manual creation in favor of the shell scripts. Still, nothing got lost doing this transition. The full documentation, an explanation and justification, why each and any step is done was migrated into the shell scripts. Since all shell scripts were written in bash, anyone able to use the command line was still be able to read the bash script and to do the steps manually.

The shell scripts grew steady because more and more knowledge has been researched, more and more things had to be done to make TorBOX even safer or to add even more functionality. After the release of TorBOX 0.1.3 there was no one willing to create new images, because the process of creation was tiresome. Installing the operating system manually, putting the scripts into the virtual machines and running them for every improvement seemed boring and time consuming. The TorBOX developers agreed to make the build process fully automated. It became also clear, that TorBOX may no longer consist of only two shell scripts. The big scripts had to be spitted to many more files. Rather it became clear, that a wiki is no longer suited for lots of development related discussion and source code commits. Also a dedicated TorBOX website became required.

Andrew Lewman told Patrick Schleizer in private mail, that it would be better if TorBOX was renamed. Even though it was announced on the website that it is unaffiliated with the Tor project, people confused TorBOX with the Tor project. A new name for the project had to be found. In a rush Patrick Schleizer renamed to project to aos, which stood for "anonymous operating system". The name was a suboptimal choice. Searching for it in search engines did not bring up any results because it was already used for too many other things. Also a name starting with a small character is suboptimal, because at the beginning of a sentence it must be a big character. Patrick Schleizer asked on the tor-talk mailing list for ideas for an anonymous operating system project and got lots of suggested. Whonix was suggested and one of the very few unused terms in search engines, therefore it was chosen as new project name by Patrick Schleizer. The name is a combination of two words, who and nix. Who as in who and nix as in nothing. You could also think of it as "no one". Whonix should be pronounced "Who Nix". It seems many people don't expect the "W" in Whonix the be silent.

TransPort, SocksPort, Transparent Proxy, Isolating Proxy, ...


Whonix developer (w), named proper in past (w), renamed itself to adrelanos (w), published its OpenPGP key on 05/29/12 (w) (wiki history (w)). Revealed its identity on 01/18/14. (w) Patrick Schleizer posted its OpenPGP key transition message on 01/18/14 signed by his old and his new key. (w)

Whonix versions[edit]

Source for downloaded image[edit]

The scripts used to build a certain downloaded version of a TorBOX-Gateway or TorBOX-Workstation image can be also found in the VM at /usr/share/doc/torbox (in TorBox 0.2 at /usr/local/bin/tor-*) and through the wiki history.

TorBOX 0.1.3 (old, outdated, released)[edit]

TorBOX 0.1.3, which was released as build from source and download version.

It no longer builds, due to breaking changes from Tor 0.2.2 to Tor 0.2.3.

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/whonix/files/old-archived-releases/torbox-0.1.3/

Build Documentation: 0.1.3 (w)

Browse Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/tree/0.1.3

Download Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/archive/0.1.3.zip (w)

TorBOX 0.2.0-debootstrap (only development version)[edit]

There was also an attempt by anonymous to build TorBOX 0.2.0-debootstrap. It has been dropped because there were too many issues. The open issues are noted within the files. Never released. If anyone wants to continue working on it that's certainly possible, let's discuss this on Whonix/Dev then.

Download Source Code (w)

TorBOX 0.2.0-no-network-while-preseeding (only development version)[edit]

Based on TorBOX 0.2.0-debootstrap, there was also an attempt by adrelanos to create TorBOX 0.2.0-no-network-while-preseeding, which failed. Never released. (The goal was to save time while installing/preseeding.) That attempt failed, because of an issue with grub, see Wrong root device when using update-grub inside chroot (building VM images) (w). Another issue was a limitation in preseed, see Problem trying to preseed netcfg/no_interfaces (w). Build documentation was never written but the build script was self explanatory. If anyone wants to continue working on it that's certainly possible, let's discuss this on Whonix/Dev then.

Download Source Code (w)

TorBOX 0.2.1 (old, released)[edit]

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/whonix/files/old-archived-releases/torbox-0.2.1/ (w)

Build Documentation: 0.2.1

Browse Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/tree/0.2.1

Download Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/archive/0.2.1.zip

Whonix 0.3.0 (never released)[edit]

Last example implementation based on Ubuntu. Was never released due to potential trademark issues, see Switch from Ubuntu to Debian.

Build Documentation: 0.3.0

Browse Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/tree/0.3.1

Download Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/archive/0.3.1.zip

Whonix 0.4.4 (old, released)[edit]

Still contained a lot usability bugs. There was need to rush for that release. The 0.2.1 release was already quite old. There was need due to potential trademark issues to switch Whonix example implementation from Ubuntu to Debian, see Switch from Ubuntu to Debian (w). Adrelanos wrote a news on 2012-28-09: "I did not want to delay this release any further. The mess with multiple project names and websites had to come to an end. I've seen people loosing interest in open source projects, because there was no visible progress. This is no vaporware.".

Introduced fully automated build system based on bash scripts, grml-debootstrap and chroot.

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/whonix/files/old-archived-releases/whonix-0.4.4/

Build Documentation: 0.4.0

Browse Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/tree/0.4.4

Download Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/archive/0.4.4.zip

Whonix 0.4.5 (old, released)[edit]

Released on 2012-09-10. Fixed many usability bugs and other small bugs. Was the first version which was announced on the tor-talk mailing list (w). Received some press.

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/whonix/files/old-archived-releases/whonix-0.4.5/

Build Documentation: 0.4.0

Browse Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/tree/

Download Source Code: https://github.com/Whonix/Whonix/archive/



Any vulnerabilities in Debian packages, which Whonix is based on, also affect(ed) Whonix.


  • On 2012-04-02 on old TorBOX homepage in old TorBOX 0.1.3 a vulnerability was reported by (now) Whonix developer adrelanos. See Old News, 2012-04-02 in History. FIXED
  • No other vulnerabilities have been ever reported by third parties.

Old News[edit]


Whonix ALPHA version 0.4.5 has been released and is ready for testing. Many usability bugs have been fixed. Security was further and slightly improved. Since it is an alpha version, there can be further unknown bugs. Known bugs are on the Download page. Changelog: Changelog Release announcement: tor-talk Mailing List; Debian Derivatives Mailing List; Whonix Devel Mailing List


Whonix ALPHA version 0.4.4 has been released and is ready for testing. There some usability bugs inside, but workarounds are available in this readme. Since it is an alpha version, there can be further unknown bugs.

I did not want to delay this release any further. The mess with multiple project names and websites had to come to an end. I've seen people loosing interest in open source projects, because there was no visible progress. This is no vaporware. Changelog: Changelog


1 A bug in aos 0.2.1 when trying to update Tor has been reported. The bug has been confirmed by aos developer adrelanos. Thanks to the anonymous user for reporting the bug and for testing the workaround! You can find the workaround under Updating Tor.

2 I am still having problems with the new webhost. Aos development made steady progress (see in git if you are interested). The project is still very active and I am still interested and going to develop it further. One the webhost problem has been fixed, the 0.3.0 will be released.


1 Rebranding. aos is the new project name. The process of rebranding is ongoing. Also all links have to be renamed. That will be done as soon as a new home for aos has been found.

2 A aos (previously called TorBOX) source code 0.2.1 is now on github. The source code will be polished so it will be easier to understand, maintain and contribute. The ​devel branch contains latest changes.


1 TorBOX 0.2.1 has been released. It is Alpha quality software. There were no testers besides proper. You can download it. While this release contains many security enhancements, new minor usability bugs have been introduced. See Changelog for a comprehensive list of changes and known issues. adrelanos decided to release this even with the minor bugs since the security improvements are important. 2 The gnome-terminal has a minor bug, at startup the it is black on black, therefor you can't see anything. Simply change the colors manually.

3 proper has a new pseudonym, adrelanos.

4 Due to trademark issues, TorBOX must be rebranded. TorBOX needs a new name, and a new home, a new website. Stay tuned for updates.


TorBOX 0.2.1 will come out soon. Before officially releasing it, I'd like to have a few testers. If you are interested, please contact adrelanos a-t riseup do-t net.


A bad news and a good news.

1 Unfortunately, the upcoming download version, TorBOX 0.2.0, will not be functional on older hardware with non-PAE CPU's.

2 Fortunately, users with non-PAE CPU's, will still be able to build TorBOX 0.2.0 from source. The situation may improve in future. The FAQ has been updated.


1 The latest TorButton update may break Tor Browser within TorBOX. We'll post soon an update with a solution. The Readme explains how you can update Tor Browser.

2 A bug crashing TorBOX has been reported offsite. It happens when you try to run TorBOX on older hardware, which does not support PAE. A new FAQ entry with a interim solution has been posted. The bug will be fixed in TorBOX 0.2.0. UPDATE: Unfortunately will only partially fixed, see news above.


1 The New Identity button of Tor Button in Tor Browser with TorBOX is defunct. See Tor Browser#New Identity Button for an explanation why, what the New Identity button does and for a workaround.


1 New article: All about Browser Plugins (such as Flash) in conjunction with TorBOX.


1 New optional feature. You can use a Secondary DNS resolver (Optional Feature).


1 New optional feature. There is now a limited workaround for Tunneling UDP over Tor using VPNs.


We have a bunch of new/updated articles/stuff. Here is a selection.

1 new: Rudimentary TorBOX Support for Other Anonymizing Networks. (People who are only interested in Tor, do not have to read.)

2 updated: TorBOX/SecurityAndHardening.

3 new: TorBOX/Trust.

4 updated: Tunneling Proxy/SSH/VPN through Tor (Tor -> Proxy/SSH/VPN).

5 new: A Free example VPN working with TorBOX for testing purposes.

6 new: Tunneling UDP over Tor (Update: see news)

7 Optional new feature: Hide your TorBOX usage / Torify the Tor-Gateway

8 Dev only: Hardened Gentoo based Tor-Gateway


1 Critical issue with /var/lib/tor for all users who downloaded the TorBOX Download Binary images 0.1.3. Users who manually configured TorBOX or used build from source are not affected.

On your Tor-Gateway. 1. If you were using onion services, backup your keys (/var/lib/tor/hidden_service/). 2. Execute the following:

sudo -i
service tor stop
rm -r /var/lib/tor/*
service tor start
This will delete the content of the Tor data directory /var/lib/tor. Technical background: the Tor consensus and your entry guards are stored there. These should not be shared along all TorBOX users.


1 Binary images for TorBOX 0.1.3 are now available! These are affected by the critical issue above.


1 All users should update to 0.1.3! Users of TorBOX 0.1.* can update using the update script. Users of TorBOX versions prior the introduction of version numbers should reinstall following our build instructions or Physical Isolation instructions. Update: or download the latest ready-made images.


1 TorBOX has now a logo. Thanks to XJ!


1 Identity correlation through circuit sharing (Update: This is now closed, there is nothing we can do about till the current alpha version of Tor becomes stable; Update 2: TorBOX is already working with the current Tor alpha and prepared for the next Tor stable, see tor-gateway.sh.)


1 Alpha builds available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/torbox/files/


1 This is resolved in the latest version of TorBOX. Resolved in TorBOX 0.1.3 and above. Only important prior TorBOX 0.1.3. It would be prudent if all TorBOX users would use the same time zone, as some applications do leak it, this hasn't been advised earlier. Do this on your Tor-Workstation and on your Tor-Gateway. Type in console

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
then choose etc (at the bottom) and then choose UTC.

2 new: Hosting onion services


1 Project started. Historical very first version.

See Also[edit]

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