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Bitcoin and Compatibility with Tails Linux

Tails is a Linux-based operating system that users can boot from a USB drive or DVD in a “live disk” configuration. One of the chief benefits of the tool is that it routes all Internet traffic through the Tor privacy network by default. Tails is one of only two¬† methods of connecting to the Tor network recommended by the Tor project itself, the other being the Tor Browser.

Tor is a peer-to-peer network that allows users to hide their IP address from Internet services. In conjunction with other privacy technologies, Tor helps to provide users anonymity when connecting to the Internet. Since users assume the Internet connections of other Tor users in order to temporarily assume their identities, Tor also effectively circumvents Internet censorship by routing around points of failure.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer, decentralized crypto-currency. With a multi-billion dollar market cap, Bitcoin is quickly becoming the de facto standard of cutting edge Internet commerce. Its decentralized nature gives it unprecedented monetary censorship resistance. However, Bitcoin’s public ledger system (blockchain) and lack of privacy features to date require users to utilize additional, opt-in technologies in order to achieve financial privacy.

Bitcoin and Tails are a natural marriage of technologies that provide users new-found un-censorship capabilities. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to compatibility between Tails and the various Bitcoin clients in common use. Even Bitcoin clients that are eager to adopt cutting edge privacy technologies, such as sx, have not ensured compatibility with Tails. Tails is based on a semi-outed version of the Debian operating system, “Squeeze”, which has been officially superseded by the newer “Wheezy” version of Debian, and this has exacerbated some of the software compatibilities between Bitcoin clients and Tails.

I have created a record of tests between various Bitcoin clients and Tails. I am publishing this record as I update it in order to bring attention to compatibility issues. Where necessary, I will inform Bitcoin client developers of these issues, and file bug reports. My end goal is to help Bitcoin client developers and Tails developers to achieve better compatibility in the future, and thus provide users better access to private digital finances.

A link to the tracker can be found here:

— Kristov Atlas