[tor-talk] How to make Whonix really user friendly? Looking for your suggestions!

Patrick Schleizer adrelanos at riseup.net
Wed Mar 26 19:26:06 UTC 2014


Future Directions - Where Whonix wants to be in 2 or 5 years?

Do we want Whonix to be for average users or just for those with unix

Whonix is a useful tool for some already, got many fans. How can we make
Whonix really user friendly to allow mass adaption by regular people who
need anonymity most?


It seems, Whonix limits itself by its two machines design. [1] It's not
exactly simple and user friendly to say "you first need to get
VirtualBox, then import these two VMs, then start Whonix-Gateway, then
start Whonix-Workstation or use physical isolation [2]". How could that
be improved while keeping Whonix's design?

In the last days many had great ideas. One was to create a hardware
appliance. Whonix running as physically isolated gateway running on
devices such as Raspberry PI or OpenWRT or creating a Tor WiFi Hotspot
(a WiFi hotspot once using it, torifying the whole connection). The
issue is, having a "route everything through Tor" approach alone doesn't
make it anymore nowadays. If someone would run their usual applications,
such as their Firefox or Internet Explorer browser they used for
non-anonymous stuff beforehand over Tor, they wouldn't be anonymous at
all due to (flash) cookies, browser fingerpriting [3] and so forth.
Saying "plug this hardware appliance between your router and your
computer AND install this client package" also doesn't sound exactly simple.

Another idea was to create a Whonix Live DVD. But even if we managed to
create one, it would still be clumsy to say "you have to burn this iso
to DVD, then boot it, then start Whonix-Gateway, then start

Jason Ayala suggested to create an Whonix USB installer [4]. It would
still be clumsy (as above), but installing Whonix would get simpler and
more encouraging to use a non-Windows, separate operating system. We
then would have to support lots of different hardware, but additional
support by funding [5] this would be possible. Users still would have to
figure out how to boot from USB, which is not entirely trivial due to
different BIOS implementations. Also "secure boot [6]" won't make this

Cerberus raised the idea to make Whonix fully managed. Perhaps he meant
to enable automatic updates [7] for the host, Whonix-Gateway and
Whonix-Workstation. Whonix-Gateway could then be fully managed and
hidden from non-advanced users. However, there are some settings that
need to be set up on Whonix-Gateway, such as settings for Tor bridges
[8]. Maybe a Whonix-Host operating system could ssh into Whonix-Gateway
to manage it.

Or maybe while we're at discussing a Whonix-Host operating system, we
should revive the OneVM [9] concept? In essence, we're shipping
Whonix-Gateway as VM package, because it is a simpler and more robust
implementation to support a variety of different host operating systems
and configurations. As long as Whonix doesn't provide a host operating
system, the two VM solution is more robust. But if Whonix is enters the
next stage of evolution, i.e. by shipping a host operating system, the
OneVM concept may work better.

The idea to add Whonix to the usual app stores, such as Windows / Mac
app store as well as “sudo apt-get install whonix” has been raised as
well. This wouldn’t make Whonix less clumsy (still two VMs), but it
would make installation simpler and more secure.

In summary, we're not sure yet where the journey should go to. We'd
appreciate the input of the community. Please share ideas on how Whonix
could become really usable while not sacrificing security.


[1] https://www.whonix.org/w/images/9/90/Whonix.jpg
[2] https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Dev/Build_Documentation/Physical_Isolation
[3] https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser/design/
[4] https://www.whonix.org/forum/index.php/topic,205.0.html
[5] https://www.whonix.org/forum/index.php/topic,201.0.html
[7] https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Dev/Automatic_Updates
[8] https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Bridges
[9] https://www.whonix.org/wiki/OneVM

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