Bitkey - A Linux Distribution Dedicated For Conducting Bitcoin Transactions

  Are you looking for a dedicated Linux distro for conducting Bitcoin transactions? You got BITKEY (TURNBITKEY). BITKEY is a bootable system image based on Debian containing everything you need to perform highly secure air-gapped Bitcoin transactions. Under the hood, it comes with a swiss army knife of handy Bitcoin tools that support a wide range of usage models, including a few very secure ones which would otherwise be difficult to perform. BITKEY is based on the Turkey GNU/Linux build system and aims at providing an air-gapped system that is physically disconnected from the internet.   ​

This provides a highly secured self-contained read only CD/USB stick with everything you need to perform Bitcoin transactions with as much security as you wanted including air-gapped Bitcoin transactions.

You don’t need to install it on your hard drive because it runs live from RAM.  

Download and Install Bitkey

​You may download BITKEY from here. You may burn the ISO to a CDROM or a USB stick. If you choose to put BITKEY on a USB, it is recommended that you opt for one with a hardware read-write toggle as an additional security measure. If you can’t have that, it’s recommended you remove the USB after boot as BITKEY loads into RAM so after booting, you no longer need the USB.

To put your BITKEY ISO on a USB stick drive, you may use “dd”. If you are not quite sure how to use the “dd” command, you may use a disk writing tool such as Etcher.  

How to use Bitkey?

​BITKEY supports three modes of operation that can be selected from a boot time menu. There are two cold storage boot modes and a hot-online storage mode.

Mode Wallet Transactions Security Background Convenience
Cold-offline Create Sign High Green for safe Less
Cold-online Watch Prepare High Blue for info Less
Hot-online Create & watch Prepare and sign Medium Red for danger more

Bitkey First Impressions

​Upon boot, you are presented with a colorful abstract wallpaper background which provides some kind of mnemonic experience based on the boot mode you are into. There is a green for the cold offline representing safety, there is blue for cold-online indicating “safe with info” and the hot-online mode has a red variant of the wallpaper representing danger. You are immediately presented with a prompt requiring you to remove your boot device, insert your USB thumb drive and then open Electrum to create or open your wallet. Then there is a dock at the bottom of the desktop to host your apps.  

Cold Storage Modes

​These modes allow the creation of an air gap which ensures that your wallet’s private keys are never loaded into RAM on a computer connected to the internet. There are the cold-offline which comes with a green background.

  ​And the cold-online mode which defaults to a blue background.

Hot-online Boot Mode

​Then there is a hot-online mode. The two cold storage modes are of high security compared with the medium security provided by the hot-online mode.

Installed applications on Bitkey

​There are about thirteen icons on the launcher dock when you boot into the offline mode with two more (Chromium and Network) added when you boot into an online mode. The following apps are installed by default, Electron Bitcoin Client, WarpWallet, bitaddress, bitpaper, qrcode generator, password strength, coinbin), terminal, editor, keyboard, file manager, printer, and power (Incognito Chromium and Network are added for online modes). There is no software repository app provided so either you depend solely on the provided apps or you add other software via Terminal.  

Electron Bitcoin Client

​Upon boot, you are asked to open or create a wallet with Electron. After clicking on the app icon, you are asked to create a passphrase for your encrypted storage (Electron won’t open unless you have inserted a new USB stick drive to save your data on). Their amount of entropy is provided as well as the estimated crack time. This information is provided to guide you in creating a highly secure passphrase.

  If there is a wallet on your USB drive, you will log in, if not you will have to create a new wallet.

  You will then be provided with a wallet generation seed made up of 13 random words for you to record somewhere. The wallet generation seed will allow you to recover your wallet in case of computer failure.

  ​You may even save or copy the QR code for your wallet generation seed. And then after re-entering your passphrase, Electron is ready to go. Electron aims to simplify your Bitcoin transactions. You can add contacts and conduct transactions, thus sending and receiving bitcoins as well as a record of your transaction history. You may even customize your transaction preferences for things like your base unit or your preferred online Block explorer.

Other Apps

​Other provided apps include WarpWallet which is a deterministic Bitcoin address generator, bitaddress, bitpaper (Bitcoin Paper Wallet generator), qrcode generator, password strength (to check strength of password, coinbin (web based wallet).

Estimating the strength of passwords with Password Strength (zxcvbn)

  ​Bitcoin Paper Wallet Generator


BITKEY Linux seeks to do one thing, to keep your bitcoin wallet at a distance from online predators by providing an air-gapped system that gives you all the security you can afford with a free Linux distro. The developers claim using BITKEY the right way provides you with your best option to perfectly secure Bitcoin transactions and from where I stand, it seems to do the job. If you have any reason not to trust BITKEY, you can always source compile it yourself. BITKEY may not be perfect but it seems to be one of the best options out there.

What do you think of BITKEY, Share your thoughts with us in the comments below?