Miscellaneous FAQ's

➤ I have a second machine and I don't mind keeping it around: can I use these instructions to build it?

Yes!  Nothing about this OS installation procedure requires a memory stick... only that the installation must cover the entire primary boot disk.  That means you cannot use the common dual-boot confirmation with Linux and Windows each on their own partitions.  As far as I know, the developmental state of GRUB is that it cannot (yet) boot both LUKS (the Linux disk encryption) encrypted and unencrypted partitions from the same drive: see references here (GRUB & UEFI).

➤ Don't I get enough security isolation from running VirtualBox on my usual host computer?

No!  You might be able to confirm that a VirtualBox, VMware, or any other virtual machine image has no access to the host environment, but not the other way around.  This means a virus infected or exploited host system can still potentially access your VM's files (including keys) as well as read passwords and seed phrases through logging keystrokes or reading the screen of the VM.

➤ Why are we installing full blown Ubuntu + heavyweight GNOME rather than lightweight Xubuntu with XFCE?

XFCE probably would save about 1GB of RAM and a lot of disk bandwidth across the already strained USB interface.  Still, this might not be worth it because:

  • Ubuntu has better support for the installer, especially with unusual disc configurations like putting the OS partition on a memory stick.
  • For first time or new Linux users, there is more documentation based on the GNOME UI than for XFCE and its own default applications.
  • Having Ubuntu 20.04, also common to VPS (cloud server) configurations, will allow cardano-cli to be built on your (hopefully secure) VPS if you have one… so you wouldn't have to build it on the Frankenwallet.
  • If using Frankenwallet for the Cardano node wallet (Daedalus), the only Ubuntu version currently certified is mainstream one with GNOME.

➤ What can an Evil Maid do to compromise my Frankenwallet or its use on a host computer… i.e. if either equipment is covertly tampered with by a malicious and competent adversary?

Please consider whether the following risks are real enough to justify your choice of Frankenwallet vs. other platforms, noting that all these risks also apply to a "second air-gapped machine" as well:

  • Your Evil Maid temporarily steals your Frankenwallet and installs something in the unencrypted /boot partition that intercepts your device decryption password as you type it.
    • Note this is not a risk if your system boots with UEFI and therefore was able to encrypt the /boot partition as well as the OS partition when the Frankenwallet was created.
  • Your Evil Maid sneaks onto the computer where you use Frankenwallet and patches in a malicious BIOS that can log the key presses even as they are entered into programs that are loaded by GRUB (including the LUKS prompt where you enter your drive's decryption password).

Therefore you should make sure that no super-hacking Evil Maids are ever able to physically get to the Frankenwallet or the computer(s) that you use it on.

  • More generally: if and when using the Frankenwallet on a physically insecure public computer, keep in mind the risk that computer might have a tampered or institutionally compromised BIOS.
Last updated: 24 September 2021 12:25 UTC