How do I use a hardware wallet?

I want to use my hardware signer, such as Coldcard or Trezor, with my Bitcoin node. How does this work?

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You do not use hardware signers directly with your node. Hardware signers interface with wallets, and wallets interface with nodes. Here is what the stack looks like:

Node (on StartOS) <— Wallet (Sparrow, Specter, Electrum, etc) <— Hardware signer (Coldcard, Trezor, etc)

You use your hardware signer with your wallet, then instruct that wallet to use your Bitcoin node as its node.

  • Nodes are for interacting with the Bitcoin network: enforcing consensus rules, validating and relaying blocks/transactions, and broadcasting transactions.

  • Wallets are for constructing and viewing transactions, as well as generating addresses.

  • Signers are for generating and storing keys, as well as signing transactions.

The reason there is so much confusion about these 3 concepts is that the Bitcoin Core node comes with its own Wallet (which you should not use), and that wallet is also a signer. In fact, most wallets double as signers, and many wallets do NOT support connecting to your own node. So, most wallets are actually serving as a wallet, linked to a third party node, and a signer, which might be convenient, but it is neither trustless nor maximally secure. Ideally, you are using a wallet that supports both integrating with a hardware signer (like Coldcard or Trezor) AND a backend node (like on StartOS).


Can I use my ledger Nano X in this way. Do I have to interface my ledger with a wallet then interface the wallet with my Bitcoin node on my startOS…(If so , I have no idea how to do it)…

Correct. You can set up your node, and optionally an indexer (electrs on StartOS), and then follow our directions to use your wallet of choice. We recommend Sparrow for desktop use with hardware signers. Then follow Sparrow instructions/guides to set that up with your Ledger.

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HI just curious. Why would you recommend using Sparrow as wallet if someone is already using f.ex Trezor or ledger as their hw wallet & signer , then why not continue to use them as such and just add start9 as its new more secure and private node? isn’t adding an additional element such as Sparrow in between just adding additional unneeded complexity or?

What ever software you choose to use with your hardware wallet would matter if it is not capable of connecting to your node, i am not familiar with Trezor’s software but i do know that “ledger live” is not customizable and therefore you can not set it up to connect to your node.
Sparrow is reccomended because those functions can be selected by the user and is compatible with many if not all hardware wallets. BTC Sessions has dozens of videos on many if not all of these


Yes you can use several software wallets to interact with your ledger , sparrow is one of the most recommended. There are dozens of tutorial videos online, here are a few.

Our community generally champion Sparrow due to its power and flexibility, as well as its solid options for use with your own server. For example, you can not only link back to your node, but also use your own mempool for fee estimation, etc. Trezor Suite can also be easily linked to your node, and is a valid option as well. If I recall correctly, Ledger Live still does not support tor.

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Thanks :slight_smile: I just got confused I suppose as it seemed to me that the recommended solution now was to use Sparrow and a HW wallet instead of either/or. That seemed to me to bring in an additional not needed layer of complexity that I didn’t understand the added value of, but maybe I just misunderstood it (can easily be the case:).

You can even use both if you want, or at least test both out and see which you like better.