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Whonix host operating system

Will answer other points soonish.

Could you please report a bug against calamares upstream?

I don’t think it’s a bug.

See /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/README.md :

## initramfs module

This module is specific to Debian based distros. Post installation on Debian
the initramfs needs to be updated so as to not interrupt the boot process
with a error about fsck.ext4 not being found.

## Debian specific notes

If you're using live-build to build your ISO and setup the runtime env
make sure that you purge the live-\* packages on the target system
before running this module, since live-config dpkg-diverts update-initramfs
and can cause all sorts of fun issues.

onion_knight via Whonix Forum:

I think I found the reason. live-boot packages must be removed on the installed host during Calamares packages module. Otherwise Calamares will fail to update initramfs (update-initramfs is disabled live system is running without media mounted on /lib/live/mount/medium).

@Patrick did you modify this file?
https://github.com/Whonix/live-config-dist/blob/master/etc/calamares/modules/packages.conf.dist

No. Not that I remember (checked git).

As far as I remember, we used to remove all live-boot packages.

live-config was removed here:

Remove ‘live-config’ as it is no longer installed in the iso file.
Breaks Calamares install otherwise.

Could you please (re-)add any missing packages to packages.conf.dist?

See also /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/README.md:

## initramfs module

This module is specific to Debian based distros. Post installation on Debian
the initramfs needs to be updated so as to not interrupt the boot process
with a error about fsck.ext4 not being found.

## Debian specific notes

If you're using live-build to build your ISO and setup the runtime env
make sure that you purge the live-\* packages on the target system
before running this module, since live-config dpkg-diverts update-initramfs
and can cause all sorts of fun issues.

Now the question is how do we achieve a live-bootable installed Host if we have to remove all live-build packages…

Package grub-live Depends: on live-boot,
live-boot-initramfs-tools, live-tools.

I guess purging live-config since grub-live is known to work well
inside Whonix VMs?

onion_knight via Whonix Forum:

I don’t think it’s a bug.

See /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/README.md :

Awesome find!

Well, is it enough to add live-config to packages.conf.dist and then
https://github.com/Whonix/live-config-dist/pull/2 can be avoided?

No.

live-config is no longer installed in the ISO build, and thus no longer installed in the installed host. We got rid of it not long ago. So we don’t need Calamares packages module to remove it anymore:

Now, two options:

  • either we don’t want the installed host to be able to boot into live-mode, and thus we remove all live-boot related packages from the installed host with Calamares installer (packages module) at the end of the installation ;

  • or we want to have default live-mode support on the installed host and thus we have to find a workaround for encrypted support also since it seems that update-initramfs cannot be performed on a live system by default in Debian (and we need to update the initramfs for encrypted support at the end of the installation).

The workaround I found (might be a better solution, I don’t know) invokes directly mkintramfs and allows to circumvent this limitation.

This requires to modify the file /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/main.py which is provided by the upstream Debian calamares package (not calamares-settings-debian).

Since I don’t know exactly how you plan to apply this change during the build, I have put the modified file here for the time being:

Result: we have now a bootable (BIOS) installed host both with persistent and live modes by default, AND with encrypted support.

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Merged. And made installable. (Solved packaging issue of overwriting file by different package.) Included in Whonix 15.0.1.2.3-developers-only.

But that’s not an ideal solution yet. Might be better to use update-initramfs and stay as close to /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/main.py as possible?

Therefore…


File /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/README.md might be slightly outdated (but helpful nonetheless).

live-config debian/changelog says “Moving initramfs-tools scripts content to live-tools.” Alright, so lets look into package live-tools.

debian/live-tools.preinst does

dpkg-divert --package live-tools --quiet --add --rename --divert /usr/sbin/update-initramfs.orig.initramfs-tools /usr/sbin/update-initramfs

debian/live-tools.postrm does

dpkg-divert --package live-tools --quiet --remove --rename --divert /usr/sbin/update-initramfs.orig.initramfs-tools /usr/sbin/update-initramfs

Options:

  • (not preferred) modify /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/calamares/modules/initramfs/main.py to use /usr/sbin/update-initramfs.orig.initramfs-tools
  • (better but non-ideal) add uninstall live-tools before installing
  • running sudo sh -x /var/lib/dpkg/info/live-tools.postrm remove should work in theory but in practice the script is not idempotent (does not support re-running) therefore uninstallation during calamares package remove step would fail. Possibly a packaging but but that won’t be fixed before bullseye even if reported.
  • sudo apt --yes purge live-tools might help (but then calamares might might choke [1]) Run that command somehow automated after boot?
  • (ideally) Or we could have calamares have apt purge live-tools by modifying /etc/calamares/settings.conf? Module packages removes from chroot not from live disk, right? Invent our own calamars module for apt purge live-tools that runs early?
  • Or keep as is?

[1] We could change /etc/calamares/modules/packages.conf (packages.conf) from remove to try_remove. I.e. failing open rather than closed. Then calamares would be less picky about trying to remove package(s) that are already removed and not consider it a failure. Maybe would ease development?

Had a build error.

+ cd /home/user/whonix_binary
+ sudo mksquashfs /home/user/whonix_binary/Whonix-Host-XFCE_image image/live/filesystem.squashfs -comp xz
Can't find a SQUASHFS superblock on image/live/filesystem.squashfs
Wrong filesystem or filesystem is corrupted!
Failed to read existing filesystem - will not overwrite - ABORTING!
To force Mksquashfs to write to this block device or file use -noappend

Investigating.

Yes!! :slight_smile:
It works fine now, why not keep as is? I have just built Whonix-Host-XFCE-15.0.1.2.4.iso, did a BIOS encrypted install -> everything works!
I don’t think it is desirable to remove live-tools.

1 Like

? (still stuck on the EFI part)

1 Like

onion_knight via Whonix Forum:

In fact we already have an ISO file that boots on EFI and BIOS systems.

What we could not achieve is having an EFI bootable installed Whonix-Host system. Reasons still unknown.

@Patrick, would you maybe consider already releasing Whonix-Host ISO as it is, without EFI support for Calamares installer? This way people could already start to test it and maybe we could gather some feedback on how to fix this issue.

It is a good idea. However, I don’t want to sink Whonix-Host release,
create a bad reputation by releasing low quality software.

Among most important features for Whonix-Host which are not implemented
yet are Whonix-Host firewall and Whonix-Host Tor /
anon-connection-wizard (ACW) configuration.

https://phabricator.whonix.org/T942

https://phabricator.whonix.org/T981

But to get potetial help, maybe a compromise. Using


could add WARNING - Whonix DEVELOPERS-ONLY Preview Version. Will work
it and then something can be published soon.

Work on livecheck for Whonix-Host:

A likely cause is Calamares failing to set boot time flags to allow installs with select unencrypted partitions to work on EFI systems.

Related upstream bug report:

Could have been solved in a version more recent than the one frozen in Buster.

1 Like

What about re-adding minimal QEMU support? Would be useful during development. Then one could try Whonix-Host inside VirtualBox or any other virtualizer.

Only two changes required looks like. Changing domain type from kvm to qemu and disabling host cpu passthrough.


virsh -c qemu:///system net-start "Whonix-External"

shows

error: failed to start network Whonix-External
error: internal error: Network is already in use by interface eth0

Any idea how to fix that one?

Could be because I am testing inside VirtualBox but would be useful to fix this nonetheless.

1 Like

The host-boot-popup is done and included in link below.

WARNING - Whonix-Host DEVELOPERS-ONLY Preview Version

DO NOT USE THIS YET AS A USER!

Whonix-Host is unreleased. Not even available for testers. This version is a preview for developers only.

Missing features the the initial release include

See full task list for first release of Whonix-Host.

Help welcome!


Whonix-Host DEVELOPERS-ONLY Preview Version has been uploaded.

The download link should not contain /ova/. I will fix this for the next upload.


(Qemu fixes mentioned in Whonix host operating system not included in 15.0.1.2.7. Coming in next git tag.)

2 Likes

OK will work on resurrecting it. Any suggestion where you want the config templates?

1 Like

HulaHoop via Whonix Forum:

OK will work on resurrecting it. Any suggestion where you want the config templates?

Great! Maybe no separate xml files. Just what kind of modifications are
required / suggested. If that seems as a workable appraoch.

If sudo virsh capabilities does not contain <domain type='kvm'> then
the xml files are currently in git master copied to a temporary location
and patched before import. For now it’s just two replacements.

   search="<domain type='kvm'>"
   replace="<domain type='qemu'>"

   search="<cpu mode='host-passthrough'/>"
   replace=""

Implemented here:

https://github.com/Whonix/whonix-libvirt/blob/master/usr/lib/whonix-libvirt/install

onion_knight via Whonix Forum:

Yes!! :slight_smile:
It works fine now, why not keep as is?

I don’t know the nuances between update-initramfs and and mkinitramfs.
Looks like update-initramfs adheres config /etc/initramfs-tools/ of
which we have a few.

./packages/swap-file-creator/etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/30_swap-file-creator.conf
./packages/ro-mode-init/etc/initramfs-tools/scripts/init-premount/livetest
./packages/security-misc/etc/initramfs-tools/hooks/sysctl-initramfs
./packages/security-misc/etc/initramfs-tools/scripts/init-bottom/sysctl-initramfs
./packages/apparmor-profile-everything/etc/initramfs-tools/hooks/apparmor-profile-everything
./packages/apparmor-profile-everything/etc/initramfs-tools/scripts/init-bottom/apparmor-profile-everything

Plus whatever Debian might be doing by default.

While mkinitramfs might ignore that.

Therefore better stick as close to Debian defaults (update-initramfs) as
possible.

Created
use update-initramfs during installation of Whonix-Host
https://phabricator.whonix.org/T982
for it.

Wow that’s great. Downloading now.
Maybe we could put it somewhere else also such as in the News section to give it more visibility?

1 Like

Thanks for the information, will take a look.
In our case however not only encrypted, but also non-encrypted standard EFI install fails. Which is not the case with vanilla Debian Calamares install.

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