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Author Topic: Creating a secure Virtual PC for bitcoin transactions  (Read 1810 times)
Isosceles
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May 28, 2011, 05:53:23 PM
 #1

Hi Bitcoin community!

I'm looking for a way to store my bitcoins securely. I can store them offline, but if my online PC is compromised I risk them being stolen just as I go to spend them. Does anyone have good instructions on setting up a secure virtual PC for doing bitcoin transactions? Or is the virtual PC only as secure as the host PC?

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matt.collier
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May 28, 2011, 06:05:34 PM
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http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=9937.0

This is what I came up with.  Instructions for building your own are forthcoming.
Isosceles
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May 28, 2011, 08:57:59 PM
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Thanks, got the VM running but can't find the Bitcoin app.
Have you done anything to secure it or is this a vanilla TinyCore linux build? I'm not familiar with how to keep a linux PC secure & patched, is there the equivalent of a Windows Automatic Update feature?
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May 28, 2011, 11:34:04 PM
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Hi ExcelMonkey,

The bitcion client should run automatically on startup.  If it's not, then you can launch it manually by starting a terminal and do:

cd /home/tc/bitcion-0.3.21/bin/32
./bitcoin

I'm not sure what would be prevent it from running on startup.  Are you getting any errors?
matt.collier
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May 28, 2011, 11:43:01 PM
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Regarding your question about security, TinyCore linux is about as stripped down a version of linux as you can get.  Security problems with the OS are often exploits of security problems with add on services to the OS such as a web server or ftp server or other file sharing.  This VM has none of that.  The only software on that VM that is communicating with the outside world is bitcoin itself.  There is also an addition installed which provides for copy/paste operations to and from the Virtual Machine to the host OS so that you can copy/paste bitcoin addresses.
Isosceles
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May 29, 2011, 02:11:01 PM
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There's nothing in the /home/tc directory, it looks like an empty TinyCore installation. Can you double check your upload?
When it boots it says :
"Invalid device specified. Ignoring persistent HOME request!"
...
"piix4_smbus 0000:00:07.0: SMBus base address uninitialized - upgrade BIOS or use force_addr=0xaddr"
Didn't see anything in the boot logs I could find (/var/log/Xorg.0.log), but it looks like /home is set to /mnt/hda3, which is empty?

Thanks for the security advice. If the only security vulnerability is the core, how would I upgrade that? Also, presumably you may find a vulnerability in the linux bitcoin client, so I'd need to keep that upgraded.

Are you still planning to write instructions for others to build their own secure PC? (ie. if they don't trust downloading the .vdi)
matt.collier
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May 29, 2011, 02:43:25 PM
 #7

Hello again,

Thanks to your comment, I discovered that there is not an issue with the image, but with my instructions.

VirtualBox by default only creates an IDE controller.  The image has been designed to run on a SATA controller.

So, go to the settings of the VM you have created.
Choose storage on the left hand side
Highlight the VMI attached to the IDE controller and hit the "Remove Attachment" button at the bottom of the Storage Tree window.
Hit the "Add Controller" button at the botton of the Storage Tree window
Choose Add SATA controller
Choose Add attachment and select the Tiny Core VMI
Click OK
Boot the VM

matt.collier
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May 29, 2011, 03:53:03 PM
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Well, further research indicates that this problem occurs if you Select the OS Type as Windows XP (and possibly others) when you're creating the VM.  If you choose Linux 2.6, the default controller is a SATA controller.
Isosceles
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May 29, 2011, 08:12:39 PM
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Thanks, works now!
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May 29, 2011, 08:19:17 PM
 #10

Great!  Thanks for the update.
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