How To Run Ian Coleman's BIP39 Tool In A Secure Offline TAILS Temporary Live Boot Session
This article assumes that you have completed the previous guide on setting up a TAILS temporary live boot session. The task for this article is to safely download Ian Coleman's BIP39 Tool directly from GitHub so we can run it from the local machine while it is disconnected from the internet.
It is important we go through these set of steps rather than using the tool via the web in order to keep your private keys somewhat in a state of cold storage where they don't touch a machine that is on the internet. We will not use Google or other service (that may be tracking you) to download the tool. Instead, we will download it directly from its source.
Your seed phrase will not be typed into this machine until it has been disconnected from the internet. Since by design, the TAILS OS will not write anything to the hard drive, it will not retain any memory of the key. It is unlikley that this method is defeated highly-sophisticated malware that evades these precautions, but not impossible. By running offline, at the very least, you can power-cycle to erase all traces of thes session before reconnecting to the internet.
Download the BIP39 Tool From GitHub
The first step here is to use Git from the Terminal application to clone Ian Coleman's repository (https://github.com/iancoleman/bip39) from GitHub onto the local machine.
This can be done by typing into the terminal:
git clone https://github.com/iancoleman/bip39
Enter. It will take a couple seconds look like this when it is done:
We have downloaded the source code into the
amnesia user's home directory. Since this is a temporary live boot session, this is not actually written to any disk, but rather just held in the computer's RAM for the remainder of the
time the PC is powered on. However, it does function as if it were on a hard drive as far as the software can tell.
To verify the download, you can navigate to the directory by typing:
Enter and then type:
This will to display the SHA1-ID of the top commit, which can be cross-verified with what is on GitHub.
When done looking at this you can press the
q to return to the terminal.
We can now close the Terminal window, and open
TAILS GUI file explorer tool by double-clicking on the
Home folder on the desktop. In the window that comes up, you should see a folder called
bip39 which is the first item in the user's home folder.
If you double-click on it, the file explorer shows the contents of the folder which should look like this:
Disconnect From the Internet
Before we run the tool, we should disconnect from the internet. TAILS's network control menu is in the top right conner. Networking can be disabled. Additionally, to be completely sure you are offline, you can consider unplugging your computer's Ethernet cable (if it is connected that way) or switching off any hardware networking disabling switches if, for example, you have one on the laptop you are using. What you see in the menu will vary depending on your network hardware, but this is what the menu looks like:
Open The BIP39 Tool With Tor Browser
One common source of confusion on TAILS is that the Tor Browser is locked down to only allow it to access files under the
Tor Browser directory. To open this standalone HTML file, we need to copy it into this directory. We do so by
dragging it to the Tor Browser folder on the sidebar of the file browser view:
We can then double-click on the same
Tor Browser folder to open it:
If we double-click the HTML file, you should get prompted to tell you that you are trying to open Tor Browser without being connected to Tor because you are currently offline. This is exactly what we are trying to do, and you can select starting Tor Browser anyway:
When the BIP39 tool is opened, it should look like this:
Using the BIP39 Tool
We have written a separate article for using this tool:
When you are finished with using this tool, you can close the Tor Browser window, and shut down the PC. It will not retain any memory of what was done during this session.