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Author Topic: HOWTO create a bootable usb Bitcoin wallet in 4 easy steps  (Read 8446 times)
hugolp
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August 12, 2011, 10:59:02 AM
 #1

After all that has happened I think its cristal clear for anyone that its important not to trust 3rd parties to store bitcoins. Some complained that it was hard for non-geeks to safely store bitcoins, which was true (until now). So I asked drgr33n to provide an easy way to create a bootable usb with LinuxCoin and he did. If anyone wants to thank him for his amazing work send tips to drgr33n's address: 1AsY8kT5a3UTkzQ8WjocpfQasGf81ZmAeK

So what is a bootable usb? It is a usb that you will insert before you start the computer. When you computer starts it will boot from the USB and not from the hardrive. In fact, it wont even touch or modify your hardrive in any way. Once you are done, you shut off your computer, remove the usb, and restart it as always. This way you will have a isolated system that you should only use to receive and send bitcoins avoiding interactions that could infect your computer with a virus that steals bitcoins or any other problem that your computer might have.

This system is intended for you to store your long term savings. What I do is I keep a wallet in my computer with the bitcoins I spend monthly and then the wallet in the usb with my long term bitcoin savings, that I only access when I need to transfer funds to my day to day wallet. Obviously, you can find alternative uses.



So here we go:

[At the moment, only for windows. For general instructions go here]

First, you need a usb flash drive of at least 2Gb (4Gb minum recommended). It should be formatted as FAT32, that is what most drives are formatted by default. If you want to make sure just follow this guide to format the drive again. (remember to select FAT32 as file system).

Also, you need to download the program that will help you create the bootable usb from here. Its a modified version of unetbootin. You need to run the program you just downloaded as administrator. On Windows XP just double click and accept when prompted. On other window versions, like Windows 7, you need to right click and select run as administrator.

Then you will see something like this:



In this program you need to do 4 things to create the bootable usb.

  • 1. You need to select LinuxCoin as the distribution from the list. It will automatically select the 0.2-final version.
  • 2. You need to select the size of the persintance drive. This is the space that LinuxCoin will use in the usb drive to save and store files, like it would in a normal hard drive. The size is specified in MB so if you want to select 1GB you should select 1024, 2GB is 2048, 4GB is 4096 and so on. Remeber to leave 1 GB for LinuxCoin. For example, if your USB is 2GB you want to have a 1 GB persitance, so LinuxCoin can be stored in the other GB left. Dont worry too much though because unetbootin should automatically adjust the size if you entered an invalid one.
  • 3. Select the usb drive that you want to use. If you have only 1 usb drive inserted it should be selected automatically.
  • 4. Click OK! You are done. It will take its time. It has to download LinuxCoin (over 700MB), copy it to the usb and create the persitant drive. All together it can take more than one hour. You can use the time to browse the rest of the forum to learn more about Bitcoin and get to know this great community. Dont worry if it seems stuck at some point, creating the persistant drive can take long and the interface might not respond for a while. Just let it finish.

If you want to test your new LinuxCoin system, restart the computer. If your BIOS is not configured to boot from a usb drive you will need to do so. We can not help you here since each computer is different and there is nothing we can do to make it easier for you. If you are having problems, ask in this thread or use Google for help.



What to do now?

Once you boot from the usb you will first see a menu with blue background and Unetbootin as title. There will be a 10s countdown. You can let that finish or select Default. Either way LinuxCoin will start to load. The load screen has a pinguin (Tux, the linux mascot) with a Bitcoin coin. LinuxCoin is quick to boot but remember that you are booting from a usb and they are slow compared to hard drives. It depends on the speed of your computer and the usb drive but it should take less than 1 minute. Once LinuxCoin has finished loading, you will see a simple desktop.

The Bitcoin software is already installed. Open the main menu (left bottom, a Bitcoin coin), go to Accesories and select "secure bitcoin wallet". Wait for a bit for the client to load. Now you have a new Bitcoin wallet with new addresses where you can send the coins you want to store. Before sending any coins you should backup your wallet (this is true for any Bitcoin wallet). The usb could get corrupted or you could lose or damage it. To backup the wallet, you need to copy the file wallet.dat located at /home/user/.bitcoin/ (note de dot before bitcoin) to whatever media you choose (a cd, another usb drive, encrypted in the cloud, ...). I personally backup my wallet.dat twice in cd.

It is recommended that you use it only to store bitcoins and dont browse the web or anything from that system, since you are always increasing the risk of being infected. If you like LinuxCoin and like to use it to browse the web, have two different system in two different usb drives.

Any doubts or suggestions welcome. If you find LinuxCoin useful remember to tip drgr33n: 1AsY8kT5a3UTkzQ8WjocpfQasGf81ZmAeK
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drgr33n
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August 12, 2011, 12:17:16 PM
 #2

Hey Hugolp !!

Thanks for writing an in depth guide !! I would like to point out that LinuxCoin has drivers and will boot on most graphics cards on the market. It has the propriety ATI drivers included for mining bot Xorg has nearly every driver you can think of and for everything else there's vesa Wink
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August 13, 2011, 11:02:57 AM
 #3

Yes, many thanks indeed... this is going to be indispensable in my hdd-less rig...

Now:  I just have to learn linux and figure out how to get mining going under linuxcoin... any suggestions?  Can anyone point me in the right direction?  Using 2x 5830s

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August 13, 2011, 11:08:04 AM
 #4

Wow, nice guide!
BitcoinPorn
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September 05, 2011, 02:11:46 PM
 #5

I will be backing up this information and making it even more visually 'simple' for people and throw it up on a page today if I get the time (I doubt I will, but I do want to).

Otoh
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September 05, 2011, 02:24:19 PM
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many thanks, when I'm ready to keep my own wallet I plan on following this guide & the other advise that's posted on the forum, for now watching the thread - it's much appreciated

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Blackout
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September 05, 2011, 05:00:48 PM
 #7

Question on this...  you set it up, boot from it, create a new wallet, and now you want to send coins to it, but how do you get
coins to it if you are not online with it?  Or am I misinterpreting your statement do not browse the web with it....

When you boot from this will your broadband connection still work? Doesn't it have to to get the client to run to get any coins you send to it?


I guess I'll just run it and find out.  Thanks for the help.


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September 05, 2011, 05:03:19 PM
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Question on this...  you set it up, boot from it, create a new wallet, and now you want to send coins to it, but how do you get
coins to it if you are not online with it?  Or am I misinterpreting your statement do not browse the web with it....


A Bitcoin client/wallet doesn't need to be running or online in any way to receive funds. You can bury it in the backyard for ten years, sending BTC to it periodically, and upon retrieval it will update the block chain and discover your funds there waiting for you =)

So, you only need to be "plugged in" when sending money out.
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September 05, 2011, 05:18:19 PM
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i'm running Win 7 on VMWare Fusion on a Macbook Pro.  anyone know if i can boot to USB stick with this setup and how to do it?
Blackout
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September 05, 2011, 05:28:40 PM
 #10

Question on this...  you set it up, boot from it, create a new wallet, and now you want to send coins to it, but how do you get
coins to it if you are not online with it?  Or am I misinterpreting your statement do not browse the web with it....


A Bitcoin client/wallet doesn't need to be running or online in any way to receive funds. You can bury it in the backyard for ten years, sending BTC to it periodically, and upon retrieval it will update the block chain and discover your funds there waiting for you =)

So, you only need to be "plugged in" when sending money out.

"upon retrieval" you mean you have to connect it to the internet...to retrieve...  that's what I am talking about.  Does this install connect to the net or not?

I would like to have a bootable version with few coins that I use and can bring with me like a usb on a keychain, and then a "buried in the backyard" one as you say.


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September 05, 2011, 05:40:43 PM
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Question on this...  you set it up, boot from it, create a new wallet, and now you want to send coins to it, but how do you get
coins to it if you are not online with it?  Or am I misinterpreting your statement do not browse the web with it....


A Bitcoin client/wallet doesn't need to be running or online in any way to receive funds. You can bury it in the backyard for ten years, sending BTC to it periodically, and upon retrieval it will update the block chain and discover your funds there waiting for you =)

So, you only need to be "plugged in" when sending money out.

"upon retrieval" you mean you have to connect it to the internet...to retrieve...  that's what I am talking about.  Does this install connect to the net or not?

I would like to have a bootable version with few coins that I use and can bring with me like a usb on a keychain, and then a "buried in the backyard" one as you say.



yes, the client in Linuxcoin will connect to the Internet and you can use it normally to send and receive coins.  the session will never touch your hard drive theoretically so therefore you don't have to worry about trojans altho there might be some debate about this.

evorhees is saying that instead of this setup and for extra security, some of us, have created an offline savings wallet on a USB stick via a Live CD session, recorded a few addresses from that wallet, and then send coins to those addresses periodically.  heres the thing:  you don't have to ever connect that wallet up to the internet ever again to receive those coins.  they're in essence "stored" in the block chain.  what matters is that those coins have been sent to these addresses.  you could wait 10 yrs to reconnect the wallet and the updating of the block chain will then bring those coins into your wallet which then could be spent.  clear?

edit:  the cool thing is you can go to block explorer to check the balance of coins in those addresses everyday if you're paranoid about them being there.
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September 05, 2011, 06:22:44 PM
 #12

ok, i would love to have a USB bootable version of Linuxcoin that will work with a Mac.  please.
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September 05, 2011, 06:23:17 PM
 #13

I get that - but then there is no need of all this bootable stuff... just create a new wallet and offline store it and send coins to it as it is buried in Michael Jackson's basement.




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September 05, 2011, 06:31:56 PM
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thank you

If you like this tread consider to donate some to https://bitcointalk.org/donate.html
hugolp
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September 05, 2011, 07:13:55 PM
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i'm running Win 7 on VMWare Fusion on a Macbook Pro.  anyone know if i can boot to USB stick with this setup and how to do it?

Apple now uses standard PC hardware so you should be able to use the USB. Linux has drivers for almost anything these days (even more than windows), but you will never know for sure until you try. In theory you should not have a problem. The OS installed in your hard drive should not be a problem since the bootable USB does not care and does not touch it. If you were to have any issue it would be with the hardware, but it should be fine.

Let us know how it goes.
hugolp
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September 05, 2011, 07:15:33 PM
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"upon retrieval" you mean you have to connect it to the internet...to retrieve...  that's what I am talking about.  Does this install connect to the net or not?

I would like to have a bootable version with few coins that I use and can bring with me like a usb on a keychain, and then a "buried in the backyard" one as you say.

Yes, LinuxCoin connects to the internet. It even has a web browser installed. The point is that if you start visiting web pages you are increasing the risk of being infected. Just as a policy you should not do it with the LinuxCoin that has your wallet.

Quote from: Blackout
I get that - but then there is no need of all this bootable stuff... just create a new wallet and offline store it and send coins to it as it is buried in Michael Jackson's basement.

Yes, this is an option as well. In fact, you should do that with the security copies. The point of having a bootable USB is that you have a more easy access to your funds. For example you might want to access those funds every 3 or 4 months, and the USB is just convinient.
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September 05, 2011, 07:42:32 PM
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http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1948

unfortunately not going to work with Intel based Mac.  requires a GUID format vs FAT32.
hugolp
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September 05, 2011, 07:45:17 PM
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http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1948

unfortunately not going to work with Intel based Mac.  requires a GUID format vs FAT32.

Thats a shame. If you are really interested, you should go to the LinuxCoin thread (https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=7374.0) and ask there, maybe you can get it to work with other partition systems.
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September 06, 2011, 01:16:14 AM
 #19

please use linuxcoin wallet with small balances and at your own risk, this distribution was never audited by a 3rd party

If you don't own the private keys, you don't own the coins.
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September 06, 2011, 02:03:16 PM
 #20

Oh great.  More worries.  Is there not a way to check this? Can someone not open this up and check the code to make sure there are no backdoors sending wallet keys to the maker?


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