Regulars here will know that I am always on the hunt for new tools that can make your lives more decentralized and more private and to bring these to you in The Privacy Cookbook. Finding something that does both is usually the best solution.

I also cover blockchain technology and as I was a bitcoin early adopter I thought I would circle back and pick up on a device that has actually been around a while and that sometimes gets overlooked.

So in this new chapter, No 18, called "The One with the Pi" (yes, ok, also a former Friends fanatic) I am referring to, and looking at, the Raspberry Pi, and since we mentioned Bitcoin I will start off with a Bitcoin node.

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A catchy headline isn't it, but Umbrel is more than just a personal Bitcoin Lightning Network. It's about privacy, and you can connect Tresor, Ledger, Wasabi, Blockstream Green, Electrum, Zap, BlueWallet, you name it, to your Lightning Pi, thereby helping you achieve unparalleled privacy.

The wallet providers usually use a company server which knows your IP address and can link it to your bitcoin address. In the case of Ledger, which leaked a hell of a lot of its clients' data, they also have your address, telephone number etc. as well!  This is less than ideal, not that bitcoin ever claimed to be anonymous, but the information shouldn’t be available to others and even the companies you are using shouldn't hold any of your information.

“By running Bitcoin Core, your Umbrel stores and validates every single Bitcoin transaction that has ever existed and will ever exist. It’s “don’t trust, verify” on steroids. Not only that, transacting with your Umbrel also helps keep the entire Bitcoin network decentralized; win-win!”

So, what do you need to be able to have Umbrel on a Raspberry Pi?

  1. Raspberry Pi 4
  2. 1 TB SSD

The setup cannot be more simple or straightforward, just download UmbrelOS, install it via Balena Etcher and pop the SSD card into your Pi. Add at least 1 TB SSD hard disk to the Pi and power the beast up. After you have set your Raspberry Pi up you are ready to use Bitcoin - private, trustless, uncensored and permission-less - and from anywhere in the world.

The beauty behind this setup is that you control the node, not some company and you get  privacy by default.

“All services on Umbrel, including Bitcoin, Lightning and Electrum are configured to use Tor by default, thus preserving your anonymity at all times.“

So you can also access your Umbrel from anywhere in the world with a Tor-enabled browser. Automatic backups are in place and future developments via the Umbrel App Store will make things even more interesting.

Examples would be BTCPay Server which lets you become your own payment processor, you can set up multi-signature custody with Specter Desktop, run your own Blockchain Explorer, chat over the Lightning Network. The possibilities are endless, and all from your little Pi. A unique Tor hidden service (onion address) is generated and configured for every app you install and you can individually connect to each with a separate onion address.

Umbrel have also released the Umbrel App Framework for developers, so they can build, test and submit apps to Umbrel.

Each app running is isolated from all the others. The best part of this is that each app is sitting at your home, on your Pi and whilst your data can only be accessed with your private onion address it is accessible to you from anywhere in the world.

Perhaps you are just one Pi away from being in control of your Bitcoin startup or just to make sure your transactions are private.

More servings of Pi to follow!