Embassy (Device, OS, and DIY)

Can I run EmbassyOS on a VPS or VM?

Maybe, but we advise against this. It is designed to be used on a RaspberryPi.

Is it possible to use the EmbassyOS on my own hardware?

Yes! The diy guide will take you through the setup steps. This option is great for people who already own the necessary hardware or who live outside the US and want to save on shipping and customs fees.

Additionally, EmbassyOS is available to build from source under the Start9 Personal Use License. If you have the time and energy, it is possible to download and compile EmbassyOS yourself, for free, with the caveat that your “Embassy” will not have a product key generated by us. This means you will miss out on the perks that come along with purchasing from us, which will grow over time.

Do I plug the Embassy into my computer?

No. The Embassy only needs to be plugged into power and internet, just like your router. You can set it up right by your router and forget about it.

How much storage does the Embassy have?

Currently, the Embassy ships with a 128gb of storage.

Are my Internet requests anonymous and secure?

EmbassyOS and every service on the Embassy serve their own Tor Hidden Services with unique Tor addresses. The private keys used to create these addresses are generated on your phone or computer when you first set up the Embassy. No one, not even Start9, has any idea what your Tor addresses are, let alone the password(s) you choose to authenticate with them.

Does Start9 have access to my Embassy’s encryption keys?

No. Your keys are generated on your device using the password you create.

Can multiple Embassies be setup to run redundantly in physically separate locations?

Soon (tm). Currently no, be we have plans for a feature that will enable Embassies to provide encrypted, automated backup services for one another.

How does the Embassy compare to other Bitcoin nodes or personal servers?

The cheapest way to run a Bitcoin/Lightning node is to buy a Raspberry Pi (or equivalent), compile the software from source yourself, and host everything on Tor. This takes even technical people significant time to accomplish. On the other end of the spectrum is something like the Embassy, which “just works”. In between is stuff like MyNode, Nodl, Dojo, Umbrel, and Raspiblitz, which all require some degree of command line effort and network configuration. The biggest benefit of the Embassy is that it is infinitely extensible to all of open-source, self-hosted software. The service listing will expand enormously over time in ways the other platforms cannot.

Would you consider (Umbrel, Nodl, Dojo, etc) a competitor to you guys, or are they different enough to be compatible?

Other node devices are competitors, and there are distinct trade-offs to each platform, but we are definitely moving toward the same future, which is a win for everyone! We are taking more a general approach to all of open-source, self-hosted software, including Bitcoin/Lightning. They are more Bitcoin/Lightning oriented.

Is a more powerful device in the works??

In the near future, the Embassy will move to more powerful hardware.

I heard on an old podcast that there will be an Embassy Two, to be launched in 2021. Is there an ETA on this?

Do not expect a new device in 2021, but we are always doing R&D.

Can I mine Bitcoin with this?

No, you can not.

Does the Embassy only work over Tor? No http or VPN…??

The Embassy’s current primary communication is Tor, yes. In many cases we use HTTP over Tor (they are not mutually exclusive), you can see this by navigating to the Tor address in a browser and see the “http” in front of it. A VPN is a feature we’re exploring as an alternative to Tor to make things faster without meaningfully impacting privacy. You can also connect directly via LAN if you are on the same network as your device.

What if someone gets physical access to my device, can they read the contents? Is it encrypted?

The device is currently not currently protected in that way. Someone with physical access to the device can get full access to everything on it.

Apps like Bitwarden, however, do not store plaintext information, so your passwords will not be compromised unless they know your master password.

Why http and not https for .onion websites?

When visiting a Tor V3 URL (.onion website), your communications are end-to-end encrypted and onion-routed by default. There is no added benefit to using https. See this article from the Tor Project for more details.