Whonix ™ Live-mode - Immutable Disk Method on VirtualBox

From Whonix

< Whonix Live
About this Whonix Live/Immutable Disk Method on VirtualBox Page
Support Status testing
Difficulty medium
Maintainer Algernon
Support Support

For VirtualBox there is also an alternate way to set the disks to read-only. This option is the official way for setting VM's to read-only in VirtualBox. However, it is a bit more complex to setup. This option will also only work with the grub-live package!

First read the footnote below. [1]

1. Backup.

  • Option 1: Create a snapshot of your VM; or
  • Option 2: Alternatively backup the /boot folder.

sudo cp -a /boot /boot.back

2. Install grub-live.

Update the package lists.

sudo apt-get update

Upgrade the system.

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Install the grub-live package.

sudo apt-get install grub-live

The procedure is complete.

3. Reboot.

4. Launch live-mode.

A second boot entry called "Whonix ™ Live-mode" will be visible. Select it and then press Enter to boot the live system and use it as normal.

5. Make the VirtualBox disk immutable / read-only.

Follow these steps:

  1. Power off the VM
  2. In the VirtualBox main window, navigate to: FileVirtual Media Manager.
  3. Select the disk to write protect and release it.
  4. Click on Modifyset it to Immutable.
  5. In the VirtualBox main window, navigate to the settings of the VM.
  6. Under storage, select the top controller and add the existing hard disk there.

It is now possible to boot the VM and select Live-mode.

6. Steps to revert changes.

Click on expand on the right.

  1. Power off the VM
  2. Navigate to: FileVirtual Media Manager.
  3. Select the disk. It will now have a snapshot (~12.5 MB) attached to it.
  4. Release the snapshot and delete it.
  5. Click on Modify and set the hard disk to normal.
  6. In the VirtualBox main window, navigate to the settings of the VM.
  7. Under storage, select the top controller and add the existing hard disk there.


  1. VirtualBox implements hard disk write protection differently. If an immutable virtual machine is booted, VirtualBox will always create a snapshot where data is written. After shutting down and booting the VM again (a soft reboot is inadequate) the old snapshot will be deleted and a new one created. The consequence is that data will not persist in the VM, even if Live-mode is not selected. However, since the data is written to the hard disk of the host (instead of memory), it is easily recovered. Therefore, it is necessary to select Live-mode to be safe. A snapshot file is still created, but it will not store any altered content from the VM.

No user support in comments. See Support. Comments will be deleted after some time. Specifically after comments have been addressed in form of wiki enhancements. See Wiki Comments Policy.

Add your comment
Whonix welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Random News:

Are you proficient with iptables? Want to contribute? Check out possible improvements to iptables. Please come and introduce yourself in the development forum.

https | (forcing) onion

Follow: Twitter | Facebook | | Stay Tuned | Whonix News

Share: Twitter | Facebook

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.

Copyright (C) 2012 - 2019 ENCRYPTED SUPPORT LP. Whonix ™ is a trademark. Whonix ™ is a licensee of the Open Invention Network. Unless otherwise noted, the content of this page is copyrighted and licensed under the same Freedom Software license as Whonix ™ itself. (Why?)

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

Whonix ™ is produced independently from the Tor® anonymity software and carries no guarantee from The Tor Project 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.