Michael Altfield's gravatar

How to check Whonix version in Qubes

Whonix 14 just came out last month. I went to update, but I couldn’t figure out what version I was currently running. The documentation said to run this command, but the output didn’t make sense when I ran it on my whonix-gw TemplateVM.

user@host:~$ cat /var/lib/anon-dist/build_version 
Update 2018-09-28: As Patrick Schleizer (Whonix founder) pointed out here, you can check the current version of whonix in /etc/whonix_version:

user@host:~$ cat /etc/whonix_version 

I was first alerted this morning when whonixcheck told me that I needed to update:

WARNING: Whonix News Result:
 Outdated: Installed whonix-gateway-packages-dependencies 3.4.2-1 is outdated!
You should update. You can automatically update using Whonix's internal updater. Please update using: 

      sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade 

..but apt-get on my whonix-gw TemplateVM insisted that I was already up-to-date:

Welcome to Whonix!

The programs included with the Whonix GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Whonix GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law. Whonix is a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux.

Whonix is based on Tor. Whonix is produced independently from the
Tor (r) anonymity software and carries no guarantee from The Tor Project
about quality, suitability or anything else.

Whonix is experimental software by means of concept and design.
Do not rely on it for strong anonymity.

Type: "whonix" <enter> for help.
user@host:~$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Hit http://deb.qubes-os.org jessie InRelease                                              
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates InRelease                                   
Ign http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie InRelease                       
Hit http://deb.whonix.org jessie InRelease                              
Get:1 http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie Release.gpg [2,420 B]                                                             
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie Release                                                                             
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/main amd64 Packages                                                              
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/non-free amd64 Packages                                                
Hit http://deb.qubes-os.org jessie/main amd64 Packages                                                                                  
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/contrib amd64 Packages                                                                              
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/contrib Translation-en                                                  
Hit http://deb.whonix.org jessie/main amd64 Packages                                        
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/non-free amd64 Packages                                                                                                                       
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/main Translation-en                                                                                                                 
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/contrib Translation-en                                                                                                                        
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/non-free Translation-en                                                                                                             
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/main Translation-en                                                                                                                           
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/main amd64 Packages                                                                                                                 
Hit http://ftp.us.debian.org jessie/non-free Translation-en                                                                                                                       
Hit http://security.debian.org jessie/updates/contrib amd64 Packages                                                                                                              
Ign http://deb.qubes-os.org jessie/main Translation-en_US                                                                                                                         
Ign http://deb.qubes-os.org jessie/main Translation-en                                                                                                                             
Ign http://deb.whonix.org jessie/main Translation-en_US                                                                                                                            
Ign http://deb.whonix.org jessie/main Translation-en                                                                                                                               
Fetched 2,420 B in 13s (185 B/s)                                                                                                                                                   
Reading package lists... Done                                                                                                                                                      
Reading package lists... Done                                                                                                                                                      
Building dependency tree                                                                                                                                                           
Reading state information... Done                                                                                                                                                  
Calculating upgrade... Done                                                                                                                                                        
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.                                                                                                                     

Upon further investigation, I found that Whonix 13 is being EOL’d at the end of this month (2018-09). I’m not sure if this is a side-effect, but–in any case–because Whonix 13 won’t be receiving any more (security) updates, it’s imperative that everyone running Whonix updates their system.

But I was stopped pretty early in my update process this morning when I couldn’t figure out what version of Whonix I was running! All the usual checks weren’t particularly helpful

user@host:~$ date
Sun Sep  9 18:01:22 UTC 2018
user@host:~$ uname -a
Linux host 4.14.57-2.pvops.qubes.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Aug 14 14:17:42 UTC 2018 x86_64 GNU/Linux
user@host:~$ cat /etc/issue
Welcome to Whonix!


default user account: user
default root account: root                                                                                                                                                         
default passwords: changeme                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
user@host:~$ sudo dpkg -l | grep whonix
ii  qubes-whonix                               1:                                all          Qubes Configuration for Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation               
ii  qubes-whonix-gateway                       3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Default packages for Qubes-Whonix-Gateway                                   
ii  qubes-whonix-gateway-packages-recommended  1:                                all          Recommended packages for Qubes-Whonix-Gateway                               
ii  qubes-whonix-shared-packages-recommended   1:                                all          Recommended packages for Qubes-Whonix-Gateway and Qubes-Whonix-Workstation  
ii  whonix-base-files                          3:1.4-1                                    all          Whonix base system miscellaneous files                                      
ii  whonix-gateway-packages-dependencies       3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Dependencies for Whonix-Gateway                                             
ii  whonix-gateway-packages-dependencies-pre   3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Dependencies for Whonix-Gateway that changes network related files          
ii  whonix-gateway-packages-recommended        3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Recommended packages for Whonix-Gateway                                     
ii  whonix-gateway-shared-packages-shared-meta 3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Whonix-Gateway Shared Packages                                              
ii  whonix-gw-desktop-shortcuts                3:1.3-1                                    all          Desktop Icons for Whonix-Gateway                                            
ii  whonix-gw-firewall                         3:1.9.2-1                                  all          Whonix-Gateway's Firewall                                                   
ii  whonix-gw-kde-desktop-conf                 3:1.3-1                                    all          KDE Desktop Settings for Whonix-Gateway                                     
ii  whonix-gw-network-conf                     3:1.3-1                                    all          Network Configuration for Whonix-Gateway                                    
ii  whonix-initializer                         3:2.4-1                                    all          Implements Whonix's Verifiable Builds feature and initializes Whonix        
ii  whonix-legacy                              3:2.9.3-1                                  all          Prepare older Build Versions of Whonix for Upgrade                          
ii  whonix-repository                          3:2.2.2-1                                  all          Whonix APT Repository Tool                                                  
ii  whonix-setup-wizard                        3:1.7-1                                    all          First Time Connection Setup
ii  whonix-shared-packages-dependencies        3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Dependencies for Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation
ii  whonix-shared-packages-recommended         3:3.4.2-1                                  all          Recommended packages for Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation
ii  whonixcheck                                3:4.6.5-1                                  all          Anonymity and security check
ii  whonixsetup                                3:1.9-1                                    all          First Time Connection Setup

And, as noted at the top of this post, the output from /var/lib/anon-dist/build_version was neither 14, 13, or anything close. Finally, I stumbled upon this post on the whonix forums that described the disconnect between Whonix versions and Qubes-built Whonix versions.

There is not a 1:1 correspondence between Whonix & Qubes versions nor are Whonix templates customized for individual Qubes versions. I believe the Whonix policy is to support all Qubes supported versions, so Whonix 13 currently supports R3.2 and R3.1.

As is touched on in the post linked above, the Whonix version numbers in Qubes-Whonix are fairly meaningless. I know of no easy way to map between the Qubes-Whonix version numbers and the corresponding Whonix version numbers. Instead, you can check the Whonix column in the TemplateVMs table on the Supported Versions Qubes Documentation Page to see which version of Whonix your version of Qubes supports.

Checking your version of Qubes is much simpler & straight-forward:

[user@dom0 ~]$ cat /etc/issue
Qubes release 3.2 (R3.2)
Kernel \r on an \m (\l)

[user@dom0 ~]$

Then you can follow this guide to install a fresh Whonix 14 TemplateVM in Qubes

Update 2018-09-11: I hit some speedhumps trying to follow the above guide. I ended up running the following (from dom0) to iteratively install whonix.

sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-whonix-ws-14
sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-whonix-gw-14
sudo qubesctl state.sls qvm.anon-whonix

For debugging, I found the following directories to be extremely helpful:

  1. /var/lib/qubes/dom0-updates/var/log/
  2. /var/lib/qubes/dom0-updates/var/cache/yum/x86_64/3.2/qubes-templates-community-*

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