systemcheck (previously called whonixcheck) is a script which checks numerous, important system variables. systemcheck can be run in a CLI environment (such as in terminal emulator xfce4-terminal) or via the GUI option, which has an in-built progress meter and summary notification popup of the results. The script is stored in the and directories. Whonix ™ is functional without the systemcheck script since it only checks the system status; it is not responsible for core settings. Nothing is compiled, and the script can be easily inspected in the source code.
The systemcheck script was inspired by https://check.torproject.org [archive]. In the past this was an important check when people were still recommended to use proxy settings to torify web browsers. Tor Browser is now securely pre-configured upon release, which means manual torification of web browsers is now recommended against. As an additional protection the default Tor Browser visits
check.torproject.org to confirm everything is working as expected.  This site also checks whether Tor Browser is up-to-date by having Tor Button perform a local check after downloading version information.
check.torproject.org is useful for a browser check, but Whonix ™ is a complete operating system. This means certain checks must be performed before the browser starts, otherwise a user's anonymity or security might be compromised. whonicheck's design allows the entire Whonix ™ community to stay informed about important updates or advice, and this is particularly important for users who might not start the browser or visit the Whonix ™ website regularly. For these reasons, systemcheck is automatically started after boot/login if it has not been completed within the last 24 hours. This behavior holds true even if the system is not restarted, thereby keeping any long-running systems (like Onion Services) safely informed.
If it is necessary to hide Tor and Whonix ™ use from an ISP, see here. While only a small minority of users configure their system to hide Tor, it is still desirable to hide any obvious Whonix ™ signature. Whonix ™ users are better off if adversaries cannot distinguish them from vanilla Tor Browser users, as the Whonix ™ user pool is far smaller.
When systemcheck auto-starts, it first waits for a randomized period of time ranging between 60 and 500 seconds. This obfuscation feature is intended to further stymie traffic analysis, while Tor is still responsible for basic defenses against traffic volume and pattern signatures. Without waiting for a randomized period traffic flows would be more distinguishable, since a spike in systemcheck traffic would always occur immediately after bootstrapping.
systemcheck verifies that the Whonix system is up-to-date and that everything is in proper working order.
Follow the steps below to manually run systemcheck and check the system status.
How-to: Manually Run systemcheck
Depending on system specifications, systemcheck can take up to a few minutes to complete. If everything is working as intended, the output should highlight each INFO heading in green (not red). A successful systemcheck process will have output similar to below.
Sample systemcheck Output
[INFO] [systemcheck] anon-whonix | Whonix-Workstation | whonix-ws-15 TemplateBased AppVM | Sun 25 Apr 2021 07:56:41 AM UTC
[INFO] [systemcheck] Connected to Tor. [INFO] [systemcheck] Whonix APT Repository: Enabled. When the Whonix team releases BUSTER-PROPOSED-UPDATES updates, they will be AUTOMATICALLY installed (when you run apt-get dist-upgrade) along with updated packages from the Debian team. Please read https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Trust [archive] to understand the risk. If you want to change this, use: sudo whonix_repository [INFO] [systemcheck] Debian Package Update Check: Checking for software updates via apt-get... ( Documentation: https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Update [archive] ) [INFO] [systemcheck] Debian Package Update Check Result: No updates found via apt-get. [INFO] [systemcheck] Please donate! See: https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Donate [archive]
Tor bootstrap refers to the process of attempting to connect to the Tor network (successfully or unsuccessfully). Familiar output related to this process includes: "Tor connecting xx percent...", "Tor not connected", "Tor connected" and so on. Bootstrapping does not refer to related concepts, such as whether connections are "secure", "not secure", "anonymous" or "not anonymous".
In all the checks below, systemcheck warnings appear if a problem is detected. Conversely, systemcheck output is otherwise quiet unless using the
--verbose option. Any operating system updates, downloads or other network activity are stream-isolated by default.
Table: System Checks run by systemcheck
|Canary||TODO: document. Meanwhile, see Warrant Canary Check.|
|Clock Source||Check if the clock source is KVMClock and warn if that is the case. |
|Control Port Filter Proxy||Check if Control Port Filter Proxy is running.|
|Entropy Test||An entropy availability check confirmscontains no less than 112 bytes.|
Also inform if Project-APT-Repository is enabled, and if so, which repository has been selected.
|IP Address Routing||Check if IP forwarding is disabled on Whonix-Gateway ™ (|
|Leak Tests||When using |
|Log Inspection||When using the |
|Meta-package Check||Check if the relevant meta-packages  are installed on Whonix-Gateway ™ (|
|Network Connection||Check whonixsetup has properly configured networking.|
|Operating System Updates||apt-get update is run through a separate apt-get SocksPort for stream isolation. A notification is provided whether the system is up-to-date or requires updating.|
|Package Manager||Check if a package manager is currently running and wait until the process is finished.  This prevents connection failures during concurrent upgrades of the Tor or Control Port Filter Proxy packages.|
|Repository Notification||Notifies whether Whonix ™ APT Repository is enabled or not.|
|Stream Isolation||When using |
on Whonix-Workstation ™ (
|Tor Bootstrap||Tor Bootstrap Status:
|Virtualization Platform||Check Whonix ™ is being run on one of the supported virtualizer platforms, including bare metal (Physical Isolation), VirtualBox, KVM or Qubes.|
Whonix ™ Build Version
The version number of the Whonix ™ build never changes. This is acceptable because at build time  the current Whonix ™ version number is added to the image itself.  This information is made available so systemcheck can determine which build script version was used to create that particular image.
This version number should remain static and be unaffected by updating or other issues, since it only applies to specific (usually older) versions of the build script. This is useful for diagnostic purposes and means specific build versions can be deprecated if they are too difficult or expensive to upgrade. In this case, systemcheck's Whonix ™ News function would inform users about the change.
To check the current Whonix ™ version, run the following command.
systemcheck --verbose --function show_versions
The output should be similar to below.
[INFO] [systemcheck] disp766 | Whonix-Workstation | whonix-ws-15-dvm DispVM AppVM | Sun 25 Apr 2021 07:13:17 AM UTC
[INFO] [systemcheck] Input Detection: INPUT_AUTO=true CLI=true GUI=false stdin connected to terminal. Using cli output. Not using gui output. Alternatively, if want to run from command line, but still use the graphical user interface for input, you could add to command line: --gui [INFO] [systemcheck] Root Check Result: Ok, not running as root. [INFO] [systemcheck] whonix_build_version: 3:3.4-1 [INFO] [systemcheck] whonix-workstation-packages-dependencies-cli: 21.2-1 [INFO] [systemcheck] /etc/whonix_version: 15
Warrant Canary Check
Prerequisite knowledge: Whonix ™ warrant canary
Rationale for Automated Warrant Canary Check:
- Whonix ™ warrant canary is of little use if it gets forgotten over time and not regularly verified
- Likelihood of Whonix ™ warrant canary being regularly verified by the community is probably low.
- Even if a community member verified Whonix ™ warrant canary and noticed that verification failed, there would be no effective way to notify all users of Whonix ™.
Automated Warrant Canary Check:
- Similar to an update check but to establish if Whonix ™ warrant canary is still valid.
- Downloads over Tor from
- The downloader
canary-download.py[archive] is written in memory-safe language python (python3-requests) and running under a dedicated limited linux user account
canary.txt.embed.sigis verified using
- AppArmor profile [archive]
- systemd hardening (seccomp) [archive]
- Similar to sdwdate fetching time from onions time sources.
More implementation details:
canary-daemon[archive] (with systemd-notify)
canary[archive] (wrapper including logic when to run
- Runs on Whonix-Gateway ™ only. This is to reduce server load.
- systemcheck module
For now, during initial deployment phase of this new feature, systemcheck will only shown information about canary status when using systemcheck with parameter
--verbose. That is because there might be non-security related potential bugs to be ironed out:
- File location might change on server.
- File on server might become unreadable due to linux file access permissions.
- Onion connectivity issues.
- Serving stale copy due to server caching issues.
- General warrant canary improvements.
In case of issues, manually verify Whonix ™ warrant canary.
Disable Warrant Canary Check
This will prevent the anonymous, daily Whonix ™ census.
/etc/systemcheck.d/50_user.conf in an editor with root rights.
(Qubes-Whonix ™: In TemplateVM)
Add the following content.
systemcheck_skip_functions+=" download_whonix_news "
- Tor Browser in Whonix ™ is configured to load a local Whonix ™ resource after launch -- the familiar landing page.
right-click the Whonix VM you want to check→
select "Run command in qube"
Type each command below, followed by the
- This is only expected to affect those following the KVM instructions.
- These capture packages which depend on all other recommended / default-installed packages.
- Otherwise, eventually the system is locked or the package manager is left in a broken state. Advice is provided on what to do in such circumstances.
- Some users may wonder why it is necessary to check the IP address if the Whonix ™ design ensures that the real IP cannot be leaked. Sometimes
check.torproject.orgreports false positives and fails to detect Tor exit nodes, so it is better to provide information about that possibility. This also reduces support requests and bad press. Users are welcome to investigate a Tor exit node that could not be detected, but it can be stated with high confidence that the IP address will be associated with a known Tor exit node.
- Another reason to perform this check is because some users set up dangerous and/or unsupported configurations, such as:
- Changing the Whonix-Workstation ™ (
anon-whonix) network interface from network to or .
- Using virtualizers which are entirely unsupported and untested by Whonix ™ developers.
- Installing arbitrary packages on Whonix-Workstation ™ (
whonix-ws-15). This could theoretically create leak vectors, and systemcheck is the last layer of defense against such leaks.
- Changing the Whonix-Workstation ™ (
- The time at which the image was created.
The anon-shared-build-log-build-version [archive] package, 70_log_build_version [archive] chroot script in essence runs:
echo "$anon_dist_build_version" > "/var/lib/anon-dist/build_version"
- clearnet link for convenience, preview, not used by systemcheck: https://download.whonix.org/whonixdevelopermetafiles/canary/canary.txt.embed.sig [archive]
sudo -u canary signify-openbsd -V -e -p /usr/share/repository-dist/derivative-distribution-signify-key.pub -x /var/lib/canary/canary.txt.embed.sig -m /var/lib/canary/canary-unembed.txt
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