Connect Electrum Desktop Wallet to your Bitcoin Node (with video)

VIDEO DEMO: Link

This is for people who already have a Bitcoin node but just let it run and don’t do anything with it. If you are not at that stage yet, you can follow these links to my articles on WHY to run a node, and HOW, with Linux (Raspberry Pi) , Mac, or Windows.

I will show you how to connect an Electrum Desktop Wallet to your Bitcoin Node. First you will need an Electrum Server running. There are many types of Electrum Servers. In my articles above, I include instructions on how to install Electrum Personal Server, but there is also Electrum Server in Rust, and Electrum X/Spesmilo.

The articles above also take you through installation of Electrum Desktop Wallet.

Whichever Electrum Server you have, this article will apply.

Install Electrum Desktop Wallet

Windows

For verifying signatures, Windows users first need to download and install GPG.

Uncheck all the greet checks; you only need the first one.

Next, go to Electrum.org (check the address carefully, don’t get scammed). Then click the Download link at the top. Then click “Standalone Executable” for Windows to download it, and save the matching signature next to that file. (See image below). Newer versions have multiple signature options for each executable; ThomasV’s signature alone will suffice.

Next right-click the link to download Thomas V’s public key (see image below for it’s location):

There is a note “Old versions of Windows might need to install the KB2999226 Windows update.” Search KB2999226 and download and run that if you need to.

At this stage, you should have the Windows executable file, the executable’s signature, and Thomas V’s key, all in the same folder, probably your Downloads folder.

Next, open the command prompt. Navigate to the downloads folder. (“cd Downloads”).

Import Thomas V’s key to your computer’s key ring:

gpg --import ThomasV.asc

Note that “ThomasV.asc” needs to match the exact file name you have. Tip – Just typing the first few charachters and hitting <tab> autocompletes and removes the risk of spelling errors.

then type:

gpg --verify NameOfExecutablesSignatureFile NameOfExecutableFile

The following image shows that command at the top, and the resulting output:

You have now downloaded and verified Electrum. Double clicking the icon will run it. Read more before doing that.

Mac

Mac already has gpg installed, but if you have an old mac, you can make sure by typing this into the terminal:

brew install -v gpg

For some Macs I’ve worked with, this fails. In that case, just download and install GPG Suite:

Next, go to Electrum.org (check the address carefully, don’t get scammed). Then click the Download link at the top. Then click “Executable for OS X” to download it, and save the matching signature next to that file. (See image below). Newer versions have multiple signature options for each executable; ThomasV’s signature alone will suffice.

Next right-click the link to download Thomas V’s public key (see image below for it’s location):

At this stage, you should have the Mac executable file, the executable’s signature, and Thomas V’s key, all in the same directory, probably your Downloads directory.

Next, open terminal. Navigate to the downloads directory. (“cd Downloads”) – mind the capital “D”

Import Thomas V’s key to your computer’s key ring:

gpg --import ThomasV.asc

Note that “ThomasV.asc” needs to match the exact file name you have. Tip – Just typing the first few charachters and hitting <tab> autocompletes and removes the risk of spelling errors.

then type:

gpg --verify NameOfExecutablesSignatureFile NameOfExecutableFile

The following image shows that command at the top, and the resulting output:

You have now downloaded and verified Electrum. Double clicking the icon will run it. Read more before doing that.

Linux – Raspberry Pi, and other ARM chip machines

Unfortunately, there is no executable fild. Linux executables are Appimages, but they don’t work on ARM chip machines. You need to download the Python zip file.

Make sure your operating system is updated. This will make sure you have Python 3.

To save time you can check if you already have Python3 like this.

python3 --version

Otherwise, update your Linux machine with 2 commands:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Linux already comes with gpg you don’t need to install that.

Next, go to Electrum.org (check the address carefully, don’t get scammed). Then click the Download link at the top. Then click “Electrum-4.0.4.tar.gz” to download it, and save the matching signature next to that file. (See image below). Newer versions have multiple signature options for each executable; ThomasV’s signature alone will suffice.

Next right-click the link to download Thomas V’s public key (see image below for it’s location):

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-5.png

At this stage, you should have the tar.gz file, and it’s matching signature, and Thomas V’s key, all in the same directory, probably your Downloads directory.

Next, open terminal. Navigate to the Downloads directory. (“cd Downloads”) – mind the capital “D”

Import Thomas V’s key to your computer’s key ring:

gpg --import ThomasV.asc

Note that “ThomasV.asc” needs to match the exact file name you have. Tip – Just typing the first few charachters and hitting <tab> autocompletes and removes the risk of spelling errors.

then type:

gpg --verify NameOfExecutablesSignatureFile NameOfExecutableFile

The following image shows that command at the top, and the resulting output:

You have now downloaded and verified Electrum. Next we “install it”. Run the following three commands in order, one after the other. Directly copy and paste from the website to the terminal.

Once this is done, you can type “electrum” from any directory and Electrum will run.

Alternatively, instead of installing Electrum, you can…

  1. Install dependencies see image above, top red circle.
  2. Extract the tar.gz file: “tar -xf FILENAME.tar.gz
  3. Navigate to the extracted new directory. Type ./run_electrum
Linux with x86 or AMD chips

The Instructions are similar to Linux for Pi. You can follow them exactly, or you can go through most of the same steps, except, when it comes to downloading the tar.gz file, you can download the Appimage. If you do that, you need to right-click the file, and go to properties, and make it executable. Then you can double-click it to run it.

Electrum First Run: Do not connect to a public node

When you run it for the first time, if you don’t use God level command line skills, it automatically connects to a public server and you inadvertently advertise all your bitcoin addresses and balances, including some future addresses, to surveillance companies. This is no good! If your wallet has been exposed like this to a public Electrum server before (even for 1 second), then it’s too late anyway, and you need to start a new wallet, which involves creating a new wallet, and moving all your UTXOs to that wallet. Newer versions of Electrum give you an option to avoid this but I didn’t find this reliable, and with this method, you can be very sure of the program’s behaviour.

If your wallet is untarnished in this way, proceed as follows:

Open Electrum Desktop wallet (double click icon, or from command line type “./run_electrum” from within the appropriate directory.

If it gives you a choice to connect “manually” or “automatically”, click “automatically”, even though long term this is NOT what we want.

Create a brand new wallet which will be discarded later.

Then close the app. This preliminary procedure creates a “blank” configuration file, and adds some extra lines we will use.

Navigate to a hidden directory called “.electrum” — note it starts with a “.” indicating it is hidden. The directory is located in:

  • Mac: /Users/Username/.electrum
  • Linux: /home/Username/.electrum
  • Windows: I don’t know, which Bitcoiner uses that anyway? See below to find it

If it is not there you can find it by running Electrum again, and clicking the “choose” button instead of the default wallet, and the directory tree will open at the hidden folder, and you can click buttons to explore the tree to find out where it is in the tree.

In the …/.electrum directory, open the file called “config”. We need to make some edits. In Mac or linux you can use the terminal “nano config”, to edit. Or you can use the GUI. In Mac GUI, hidden files/folders can be revealed with three keys : “Apple” “.” and “shift”.

In the config file, make sure the following options are edited as follows:

“auto_connect”: false,

“check_updates”: false, (we don’t want to be tricked to upgrade to something malicious)

“oneserver”: true,

“server”: “put_your_Node_IP_address_here:50002:s”,

Be careful not to mess up the syntax of the quotes, colons and commas. Easiest way is to highlight the true or false word and change it if you need it. Then save.

Connect to your own Node

Now you can go and open electrum and load your wallet, or create a new one, to remain private.

In the bottom right there is an icon. It will be red if you are not connected, green if you are connected, and circle arrows if it’s thinking. Click that and a window pops up.

Notice how it says “connected to 1 node” — perfect.

Make sure “select server automatically” is unchecked.

You can make edits to your IP address if you typed it in wrong in the config file.

There is a list of public nodes in the window. Don’t worry, you aren’t connected to them, but you would have been if you didn’t follow this procedure.

Congratulations, you are now privately checking your bitcoin balances and sending transactions with your own Bitcoin Node. DM me if you have questions.

Restoring a wallet. See Video. Link

In case you are feeling generous:

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