A DIY cryptocurrency hardware wallet for free

post by jorges · 2021-04-10T17:36:53.123Z · LW · GW · 2 comments

Contents

  Prerequisites
  Create the wallet
  Fill the wallet
  Spend from the wallet
  Backup the wallet
  Compared to a commercial hardware wallet
    
    
  Conlusion
None
2 comments

When holding cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, many people suggest doing it on hardware wallets like Ledger or Trezor. However, there is a very simple and safe solution, using only two regular pen / flash drives, connected via USB.

tl;dr: Boot from a Debian live, run AtomicWallet (or any other with an .AppImage distribution) and let its config be saved (and later read) on/from a second pen drive.

Prerequisites

Create the wallet

Fill the wallet

To send money to the wallet, you of course only need its public addresses. No need to touch LinuxDrive or CoinDrive.

Spend from the wallet

Backup the wallet

Atomic Wallet has stored your wallet data in a directory atomic/ on the pen drive, encrypted with a passphrase. Therefore, to back it up, you might copy that folder anywhere else as a backup.

Compared to a commercial hardware wallet

Convenience

A hardware wallet can be created and spent from without rebooting the machine.

This is different with this DIY wallet, where every spending action needs a reboot and execution of a few Terminal commands.

However, if ones aim is to mainly "hodl", this might be enough.

Security

With a hardware wallet, you only need to trust its manufacturer. Even if the hardware and software of your machine is compromised, the private wallet keys will probably not be leaked.

The DIY wallet should work safely even if your operating system is compromised – as it reboots from Debian, a popular and widespread Linux distribution. It can however not save you from compromised hardware, e.g. if your machine has a secret key logger.

Atomic Wallet's configuration on CoinDrive is encrypted by Atomic itself, so the drive should not leak data without your password. However, if you want to add security, you can format it with LUKS first.

Conlusion

The DIY wallet is simple (and free) alternative to a commercial hardware wallet. Instead of trusting a wallet manufacturer, here you need to trust the Debian and Atomic developers, plus the hardware of your machine.

2 comments

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comment by DreamFlasher · 2021-04-10T17:51:47.130Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can also do the same thing with just one debian thumbdrive and enable a persistent partition. The easiest is to use Rufus when creating the live thumbdrive: https://www.linuxuprising.com/2019/08/rufus-creating-persistent-storage-live.html Then you can run debian (eg. Ubuntu) and all your changes will be saved on the same stick.

Replies from: jorges
comment by jorges · 2021-04-10T18:02:39.536Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, this would be the ideal situation! Couldn't try it with Rufus, due to a lack of a Windows machine.

For OSX, I tried with Unetbootin, but AFAIR the stick didn't boot on my MacBook..

Anyhow, if some finds such a setup working, with an actual crypto wallet running on it, let me know!