splitting Whonix documentation into a short and long edition for better usability

@Ego, I agree with that. Also the main page needs to be made a lot more snappy. We have a thread for that already.


Anyhow. It’s still worthwhile to improve the documentation page. Ubuntu and Kali do both present it in a more pretty way.

I am not in favor of “multiple editions”. This just presents another stressful decision that newcomers are ill-equipped to make. Should I click the button that will make me a semi-ignorant and perhaps vulnerable user? Or should I click the button that will put me in way over my head and make me quit halfway through?

The current documentation should be better categorized and continue to exist as an index page for advanced users. [Labeled Documentation on header]

Drawing from these pages, a Getting Started / Tutorial should be made that branches through individual needs while covering all of the essential topics. [Labeled Getting Started on header]

    Getting Started
    The Privacy Battle
    How Whonix Works
    How Whonix Compares
    Which Whonix (Simple criteria for deciding)
    |                 |                |
    Vbox              KVM              Qubes
    |                 |                |
    Basic: host security, downloads, install steps
    First connection to Tor (incl bridges)
    Using Tor Browser |                |
    What Not to Do
    What Can I Do / Where to go from here
    Links to:
    Office, Email, Software Included with Whonix
    Install your own software
    Full Documentation

That’s it - just one guide. Everything else is an advanced topic (DIY) documented on index page.

In practice, not so easy. @tempest’s guide mostly covers just the essentials and is 400+ pages long - though that’s counting multiple OS installs, usb install and LOTS of screenshots (nice to have). His guide does what the website has not done yet - hold a complete newbie’s hand through the entire process.


Good day,

While I very much agree with you (just look at my previous post in here) there needs to be a way to make entrance easier. 400 pages are quite a lot for those who rely on Whonix in journalism, etc.

What I feel is necessary to happen is that we take a very careful look at the current documentation and think about streamlining it. Your concept of different categories could be a part of the solution. Rewriting old text may be another one.

For the time being though, I need to find some way of replacing mediawiki without losing editability and without relying on JS. Am currently looking therfore into Jekyll as it is used by Qubes as well and seems to over the necessary features. Maybe using it for the homepage may be considerable though I need to look into all the scripts necessary to keep it running.

Have a nice day,



Here are some of my notes on jekyll.

Btw with jekyll / git / github also http://prose.io as the web editing tool matches quite well. Example:
Prose · A Content Editor for GitHub
(also available for installation on own servers)

Good day,

Please regard what I wrote here when it comes to Jekyll as a solution for documentation: Whonix vs Qubes Docs - #8 by Ego

DokuWiki may be worth a look.

Have a nice day,


Tracking this now as ticket with milestone Whonix 14:

simplify Whonix ™ Documentation
⚓ T521 simplify https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Documentation

Since no one is disagreeing with what @entr0py suggested in post 10, let’s go with that.

Anyone available to contribute/apply the suggested changes? @entr0py?

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I think the first step should be organizing the existing documentation: categorizing, merging, deprecating, etc.

Some criteria for categories:

  1. Needs to fit exiting pages
  2. Should be general / agnostic / scalable as warranted
  3. These categories are for the master / advanced documentation index. Designed for browsing and/or search and not in any kind of optimal reading order. The eventual Getting Started guide can draw on these topics in a more approachable manner.

Proposed Categories:

  1. About Whonix
  • mission, description, comparison, threat model, history, etc
  1. Host Operating Systems
  • selection, basic! security, links
  1. Virtualization Platforms
  • qubes, kvm, virtualbox
  • installation, hardening
  1. Anonymization Networks
  • tor, i2p, jondo
  • config, best practices
  1. Censorship Circumvention
  2. Tunneling
  • combining anonymization networks
  • chaining proxies
  1. Encryption
  2. Communications
  • email, irc, im, voip
  1. Applications
  • productivity, audio/video, printing/scanning, money
  1. Advanced Whonix Configuration

EDIT: added ‘Censorship Circumvention’


Good day,

I may be able to organize the whole thing in this way, however only after the 25 of June.

Have a nice day,



@entr0py @ego

JonDoNym vs Qubes vs TAILS vs Tor - Documentation Chapters Comparison (# = position in documentation)

Introduction, General Information & The Basics (1,1,1,1)
Design Specifications (N/A, N/A, N/A, 2)
Hardware Recommendation(N/A, 2, N/A, N/A)
Installation and Upgrading (2, 3, 2, N/A)
First Steps (N/A, N/A, 3, N/A)
Common Tasks (5 & 10-11, 4, N/A, N/A)
Managing Virtual Operating Systems (N/A, 5, N/A, N/A)
Use of Premium Services (3, N/A, N/A, N/A)
Security Guides (N/A, 6, N/A, N/A)
Preserving Anonymity & Privacy (4 & 6-7, 7, 4, N/A)
Encryption & Privacy (N/A, N/A, 5, N/A)
Work on Sensitive Documents (N/A, N/A, 6, N/A)
JonDo/Tor-Secure-Live-DVD (9, N/A, N/A, N/A)
Circumvent blocking (12, N/A, N/A, N/A)
Configuration Guides & Advanced Topics (13, 8, 7, N/A)
Customization Guides (N/A, 9, N/A, N/A)
Troubleshooting (14, 10, N/A, N/A)
Credits, License (15, N/A, N/A, N/A)
Reference Pages & Neat Links (N/A, 11, N/A, 3)
Developers Guide (N/A, 12, N/A, 4)

As at 5-6th June 2016. See: JonDo Help: TOC, Redirecting…, Tails - Documentation, How can we help? | Tor Project | Support

If you look at most of these docs on-line, they are pretty simple (even Qubes!) So, if Whonix adopted a similar structure for a simplified guide, I think it should cover off the following (relevant) entries in roughly this order:

Suggested Simplified (Short Version) Table of Contents - Whonix

  1. An Introduction to Whonix
  2. Whonix Design and Hardware Requirements
  3. Installation and Updating (Upgrading)
  4. First Steps in Whonix
  5. Common Tasks
  6. Managing / Fine-tuning Virtualization Platforms
  7. Security Guide
  8. Preserving Anonymity and Privacy
  9. Configuration / Customization Guides*
  10. Troubleshooting
  11. Credits, License
  12. Reference Pages**

*Simple (common) configuration changes only
**Reference pages is where a lot of terminal commands and output can be hidden, just like in the Qubes documentation. This saves pages of intimidating terminal output being shoved in the new user’s face and provides a handy link for the most commonly used commands.

Now, compare this to Entropy’s proposed guide above for the ‘Advanced (Long) Manual’.

Main Point: The simple menu structure I have proposed is very similar, except it drops off all advanced topics/configuration, chaining/tunneling experiments, censorship circumvention, work on sensitive documents, developer/bug stuff and general encryption discussions. Plus it is based on a winning documentation formula from four other privacy/anonymity websites.

Slashing the size of the material is essential for the simplified (short) version. Around half (?) of the full Whonix index appears to be advanced/esoteric/misc. topics. General discussions around safely using email and other common programs would of course be covered off in the security chapter and draw on relevant material where required.

If I were to assist with creating a short, beginner-friendly version that won’t scare away Patrick’s engineer friends, then I would be unapologetic in heavily editing the content e.g. tone, readability, and harshly slashing it in size. 20-40 footnotes per page and an academic/research tone can remain in the advanced document. :smile:

End goal: the guide allows a basic computer user (non-Linux-guru) to easily install a safe (verified) version of Whonix in a suitable virtualization platform, update/upgrade, troubleshoot & fine-tune simple issues as required, and have a working Tor browser and other basic programs within short order.

Outcome: A steady increase in the size of the Whonix user base as it is introduced to a much larger audience - evidenced in stats at Linux distrowatch and elsewhere (which I note are creeping up!).

If this is combined with a visually friendly ‘button’ approach as discussed on the other thread instead of huge blocks of text, then Whonix won’t be so scary anymore to the masses. Or if large chunks of text must still remain, they should be broken up periodically with tables, snapshots etc to reduce the visual monotony.

I’m not sure how long it would take - depends on time, expectations of developers etc. If I am to assist, I wonder how a draft document is best created? I could easily do it in LibreOffice, but I suspect you want it all done in html or something that I’m not readily familiar with i.e. so it is web-ready.

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What you’re proposing almost sounds like a 3rd version of the documentation: “Comprehensive Guide for Beginners”

The Getting Started guide that I had envisioned would be much simpler and would serve to get new users up & running in 30-60 mins (depending on virt platform). I think your “End goal” captures all the requirements:

To that end, I would cut #6,7,9,11,12. Instead provide links to the main docs. Whonix has safe defaults so little / no configuration should be required.

Building on your outline:

1. An Introduction to Whonix
  a. What is Whonix
  b. How is Whonix different from other Anonymity Distributions
2. Installation and Updating (Upgrading)
  a. Choose a Virtualization Platform
    * Hardware Requirements
    * Host Recommendations
  b. Download, verify
  c. Install
3. First Steps in Whonix
  a. Launch, connect
    * censored? click link to main docs
  b. Update
  c. Browse the Web
  d. Shutdown
4. Common Tasks
  a. Pre-Installed Applications
  b. Need something else? click link
5. Preserving Anonymity and Privacy
  a. What to do & What not to do
6. Where to go from here (links)
  a. multiple browsers/gateways/workstations
  b. tunnels
  c. other applications
  d. hardened configurations

Good day,

Have to say that I very much like all the input you (the same goes for @torjunkie) are putting up. However, first I feel like we need to establish a system which allows the implementation of one of the proposed “guides”. Looking at all the test I’m currently making (both with Media- and Dokuwiki, as well as some custom solutions), I have to say though that to a certain degree, the choice of documentation software will have quite an impact on how the “short documentation” will end up looking.

An idea I thus had, and you may tell me if this sounds like it would create to much overhead, was keeping all the current documentation in its current state. The “short” one however, would be seperate from the rest, not in an own wiki, but rather on Jekyll based sites made to look simpler and more welcoming. Something like this for the “short introduction”: Configuration | Jekyll • Simple, blog-aware, static sites The rest of the documentation thus would still be in a “normal” wiki, whatever we choose in the end.

The advantages of this?

*) Looks more friendly to newcomers than a full-blown wiki.

*) Easy to seperate from the extended documentation.

The disadvantages?

*) Everything needs to be edited on two seperate places.

A bit input on this proposal would be nice.

Have a nice day,



Yes, this is what I had in mind as well.

Hi ego and entr0py

I like both your ideas - a simpler table of contents and a more presentable web format. :+1:

As editing (rather than web formatting) is the major obstacle time-wise on any documentation, and we seem to have a general ToC consensus, I can get started on editing the material into shape. Any small additions or deletions later on are trivial.

I presume that required Jekyl tags can be easily applied later on for each chapter’s text?

I’d be likely to run Chapter 1 past you after edit v0.1 to check we are all on the same page. It would make sense to have other knowledgeable eyes look over material as it is developed.

It’s probably also worth having a ‘documentation edits’ thread at some point. At any rate, I hope this is achievable within a relatively short period - famous last words :relaxed:

Will check in later after making some progress.


Let’s keep this as minimal as possible as anything more than essential will overwhelm users. Let’s think of this as a quick start. Or perhaps alternatively to the streamlined documentation there should be a separate quick start page?

Probably negligible.

Probably negligible.

Too advanced.

Which wiki page would that be?

Too advanced. Leave it out please.

Not sure that is important enough.

Not sure that is too much.

Rather click to Bridges wiki page.

Yes, I think we’re all on the same page in terms of simplicity, quick start. The categories that you quoted were for the comprehensive, “everything” docs.

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OK - will look at a ‘Quick Start’ guide to begin with. Sorry I haven’t progressed this yet - been busy. Should be able to get onto it this week.

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OK - Part 1 Introduction to Whonix stuff is finished. I’m now working through the Part 2 Whonix Installation section.

For this Quick Guide, do you want me to cover off the Qubes-Whonix templates installation (see link below) or just focus solely on KVM and Virtualbox i.e. standard (easy) virtualizer solutions?

Most newcomers to Whonix will not be looking for a Xen bare metal hypervisor solution in the first instance. Further, advanced users would just install templates via the Qubes 3.1 installer at set-up.

When I eventually get this v0.1 done, I’ll post it to a new thread. It might take a few weeks.

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Finished where?

Mention Qubes.