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How to Set Up a Split Bitcoin Wallet in Qubes

What is a "Split" Bitcoin Wallet?

A "split" bitcoin wallet is a strategy of protecting your bitcoin by having your wallet split into an offline "cold storage" wallet and an online "watching only" wallet.

A "Watching" Wallet and a "Cold" Wallet

  1. Create a fedora-25-electrum template using the Qubes VM Manager or running qvm-clone fedora-25 fedora-25-electrum in dom0.

  2. Start the new template: qvm-start fedora-25-electrum qvm-run fedora-25-electrum xterm

  3. Install electrum to fedora-25-electrum template VM. From fedora-25-electrum terminal enter: sudo dnf update. sudo dnf install electrum.

  4. Shut down your fedora-25-electrum template

  5. Create an offline-bitcoin qube based on fedora-25-electrum using the Qubes VM Manager or running qvm-create -t fedora-25-electrum -l black offline-bitcoin and qvm-prefs -s offline-bitcoin netvm none in dom0.

  6. Follow the electrum documentation in creating an offline wallet

  7. Create a watching-bitcoin qubes based on fedora-25-electrum connecting to the internet how ever you prefer using the Qubes VM Manager or running for example qvm-create -t fedora-25-electrum -l green watching-bitcoin and qvm-prefs -s watching-bitcoin netvm sys-whonix in dom0.

  8. Follow the electrum documentation in creating an online watching-only wallet

Important Notes

  • The private keys (xpriv) should never be moved outside of offline-bitcoin.
  • For copying out the public keys (xpub), Qubes provides two secure, convenient methods: the inter-VM clipboard and inter-VM file copy tools. Compared to traditional physically air-gapped machines, these tools make it very easy to copy out public keys.