Whonix is a Linux desktop dedicated to absolute security and privacy. Find out how to use this unique take on a desktop operating system.
In today’s world, security and privacy have become very important for businesses and consumers. For some people, it doesn’t seem to matter what we do because there are always security risks lurking around the corner. For this reason, we do our best to secure the desktop platform that we use. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
If you have reached the point where you have a task that requires the safest and most personal desktop you can find, where do you turn? You can try Whonix. Whonix takes a very different approach to desktop security. Instead of a single operating system, you actually work with two virtual machines – one as a gateway and the other as a desktop. The gateway works with the Tor network to ensure security and privacy. With this one-two punch, you can be sure everything you do on the desktop is anonymized.
How do you make this work? I will show you.
What do you need
The trick to using Whonix is to use VirtualBox – to use Whonix, you need to install VirtualBox. The platform that you use to host VirtualBox doesn’t matter.
How to import virtual tools
The first thing you have to do is import virtual tools into VirtualBox. This is actually quite easy. All you need to do is go to the Whonix download page and download the OVA file. After clicking on the file, you will be asked what to do with the download (Figure A).
Download Whonix OVA in Firefox.
Be sure to select Open with and then choose VirtualBox from the drop-down. Click OK and the download will begin. After the download is complete, you will be asked to import the tool into VirtualBox (Figure B).
Import OVA into VirtualBox.
Don’t change any tool settings, just click Import and agree to two EULAs. After you agree to the license, the import will complete.
How to run Whonix
The tool import will end with two virtual machines:
It is important that you only start the Gateway first because it must be connected to the Tor network. After you start the Gateway, it will land on the Anon Connection Wizard (Figure C).
Anon Whonix Connection Wizard.
Click Next and, in the resulting window, click Next again (Figure D).
The Connection Wizard summary is ready to use.
When a connection to the Tor network is made, you will eventually see a warning that Whonix needs to be upgraded. Close the warning, open the terminal window, and give the command:
sudo apt-get-update-plus dist-upgrade
You will not be asked for a sudo password. Updates will begin and finish.
After that, give the following command:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y
For this command, you will be asked for a password. The default sudo password is changeme.
When this is done, leave the Gateway running and start Whonix Workstation from VirtualBox. When the desktop finally loads, you must “agree” to the two Windows licenses, by checking Understood and clicking Next (Figure E).
Whonix Workstation License.
Whonix Workstation will then check for any available updates. There should be, run through the same process as you did with Gateway.
Change the default password
You want to change the default password on the Gateway and Workstation. To do this, open a terminal window and give the command:
You will be asked for the current password and then asked to type and verify a new password.
At this point, you can now start using Whonix Workstation as a secure and private desktop session. You must remember, however, that every time you want to use this desktop, you must start Gateway first.