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Liquid Investigations software distribution

The Liquid Investigations distribution is a collection of software tools tailored to support collaborative journalism. It provides several apps: file upload and sharing, search, annotations, chat, and wiki.

The distribution runs on a Linux server, called a node, which can be a regular PC, an ARM board (e.g. Odroid C2 / Rock64), or a cloud server / VPS. You can create a user account for each collaborator and they can connect to your node over a local network or the Internet.

Setting up a Liquid node

Odroid C2 / Rock 64

The liquid distribution runs on Odroid C2 and Rock 64 microboards.

Latest system images are available here: Odroid C2 and Rock 64.

Recommended hardware

  • Odroid C2 / Rock 64 boards
  • Plastic case for Odroid C2 /Rock 64
  • Power adapter for Odroid C2 / Rock 64
  • MicroSD card, 16GB or more, preferrably UHS-I U3 speed
  • Compatible WiFi adapter see shopping list
  • Ethernet CAT5 or CAT6 cable
  • Personal computer with Ethernet port (or USB-to-Ethernet adapter) and supported web browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari)

Installation instructions

1.Make sure you have all the necesary hardware components ARM inventory

2.Download the latest images for Odroid C2 and Rock 64.

  1. Take an empty MicroSD card

Micro SD

  1. Plug it into your laptop and burn the latest image using Etcher


  1. Plug the MicroSD card written with the image, into the Odroid C2 / Rock 64 and power it up.


  1. Wait for 1 minute, then plug in the Ethernet cable into the Odroid C2 / Rock 64 and into your computer. Disconnect from any other networks including WiFi. Avoid connecting the Odroid C2/ Rock 64 to the network of an existing router as it will interfere with its operations.

  2. Open a web browser and go to Choose a domain name for your node, and a password for the initial user account. After submitting the form, it should display a success message, with a link to the newly chosen domain name. Don't click on it just yet.

  3. Wait for 2 minues for the system to configure itself, then click on the link. Log in with your newly created account. Enjoy your new liquid node.


Ubuntu cloud images for x86_64

The project builds cloud VM images, which are derived from ubuntu cloud images, version 16.04, suitable for booting with qemu: liquid-cloud-x86_64-raw.img.gz. Take a look at the web-ui-deployment-scripts repo, it contains scripts for running the image.


Log in with the initial user account, or another administrator account, and click on the "admin" button, in the top right corner of the page. From the admin site, you can change the following:

  • WAN – the node's connection to the Internet. By default, the Ethernet port should be plugged into a router, and it will obtain configuration via DHCP from the router. You can specify a static configuration if needed. With a 2nd WiFi adapter, you can configure the node to connect to an existing WiFi network, instead of plugging in the Ethernet port.

  • LAN – hotspot configuration. You can set the hotspot's network name and password. You can also change what IP addresses are given to clients.

  • User accounts – create and change user accounts. It's not possible to delete accounts, but you can deactivate them.

  • Applications – enable or disable applications bundled in the distribution.

  • SSH access – configure SSH server, install user login keys.

Working with documents

With Liquid Investigations, you can upload documents, search them with the Hoover search engine, and make annotations using Hypothesis. All users in the system will be able to see each other's uploaded documents and annotations.

Upload and sharing - Davros

Go to the file upload application, by opening the home page, and clicking on Davros. Upload files by drag and drop. Click on files and folders to browse and download.

Any files uploaded will be automatically indexed by Hoover. It may take up to 30 seconds for Hoover to notice the new files.

Search - Hoover

Go to the homepage and click on Hoover. Files uploaded in Davros show up in the named "Davros-Sync" collection. Enter a search query to find matching documents.

Annotations - Hypothesis

After finding a document in Hoover, you can select text, and click on the button that appears next to the selection. Alternatively, click the Hypothesis sidebar on the right side of the page, to see all annotations.

Collaboration tools

Working in a team requires communication and coordination. The Liquid distribution comes with a chat app – Matrix – and a wiki – DokuWiki. Users can share notes and exchange messages in a private and secure environment.

Chat – |

Go to the homepage and click on Matrix. Log in with your credentials on the liquid node. Here you can use the Riot chat service UI and create and join chat rooms, and start private conversations.

Wiki - DokuWiki

Go to the homepage and click on DokuWiki. Log in with your credentials on the liquid node. Go to sitemap (upper right) to see a list of all wiki pages. See DokuWiki's manual for details on creating pages and the wiki syntax.