Struggling With the Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet

Now that I’ve broadened my crypto portfolio, I need to get serious about storing them safely off the Internet. Over a month ago I bought a Ledger Nano S hardware wallet but I didn’t get around to setting it up until now.

The device seems simple enough to figure out. I plugged one end of its USB cord into the device and the other end into my computer. Its LCD screen illuminated, giving directions on how to use its interface of two button and LCD screen: Push the Left button to scroll left, push the Right button to scroll right, push BOTH buttons to select something. Then it prompted me to enter a PIN. I wish it gave me the option to set up the PIN later, but it didn’t so I had to come up with something that would be too hard to guess, but not too hard to remember. I have no idea if there’s a way to re-set the PIN so I hope what I devised is adequate. It then prompted me to enter the PIN again, and I was relieved I remembered it properly since I made it up spontaneously.

It then instructed me to “write down the recovery phrase”. To me, a “phrase” is a SHORT SENTENCE. So I grabbed a pen and tiny post-it note.  What commenced was neither short nor a phrase. It gave me 24 random words to write down in sequential order. I realized it was giving me words to write in the “Recovery Sheet” that came with the Nano S device. Why didn’t it say “write down these 24 recovery words”?! So I stopped writing on the tiny note pad and found the recovery card with 24 numbered blank lines and recorded the words in their proper place.

After scrolling through the words, the interface did not give me a prompt to continue. I pushed the Right button, but nothing happened. So I pushed the Left button, and it scrolled through the words in reverse order. When I got to the first word again, I pushed the Left button one more time, and it quizzed me on the words I just saw: What was word #13? Then it prompted me to scroll through a bunch of random words until I saw the word I wrote in space 13. When I saw the word, I pushed both buttons. Then it asked me to identify word #22. I scrolled through the options until I saw the word I wrote in space #22. I pushed both buttons to select it. Then it told me the device has been configured and is ready to use.

BUT IT DOESN’T TELL ME HOW TO USE IT. It would be nice if either the tiny LCD screen gave me some direction. I double-checked the sparse instructions that came with the device and it did say to “get started at start.ledgerwallet.com” and follow the instructions. When I set up my Trezor hardware wallet, it clearly requested the Chrome browser. So I went to start.ledgerwallet.com on Chrome.

The Ledger Nano S was still plugged into my computer, so I was surprised when the Website couldn’t recognize the device I had and asked me to identify it from the other devices Ledger offers. It asks if I want to configure the device (nope, already did it without assistance), watch video tutorials (no thanks, I’m the weirdo who prefers reading than watching a video), or install a Bitcoin Wallet, an Ethereum Wallet, or a Ripple Wallet.

Since I specifically bought Trezor Nano S because it’s the only hardware wallet that stores Ripple, I click “Install Ripple Wallet”. This page promotes the wallet’s benefits of being simple, free, fast, secure, and open source “so anyone can access the full source code to authenticate code paths and contribute to the development”. This statement makes me laugh. Do these techies REALLY believe that ANYONE “can access and authenticate” source code? I – and I dare say MOST HUMANS ON EARTH – can neither access nor authenticate ANY kind of code – “source” or otherwise. But I guess “open source” sounds like a plus so I’m “happy” it’s a “feature” of my wallet.

There’s a button to “download the Ripple App”. I’m not sure where I’m downloading it to – I guess it’s to the Nano S device. I really don’t trust my computer because I know where on the Internet it’s been…

I click to download the Ripple App. It prompts me to save it somewhere but my Nano S wallet is not a destination option. I noticed the device looks like it went dormant, so I unplug it from my computer and plug it back in. It livens up and prompts me to enter the PIN and to my amazement I input it correctly.

The device’s little LCD screen is showing icon’s I hadn’t previously seen on it: A Bitcoin symbol, an Ethereum symbol, and two I don’t recognize. I use the buttons to scroll to them and it says “Fido U2F” and “settings”. I keep scrolling and it circles back to Bitcoin. Ripple is not there.

On my computer I click to download the Ripple App, hoping it will load onto my wallet and not only my (old and abused) laptop. It asks me where I want to save the app and again my Nano S wallet is not an option. So I guess I am storing this wallet onto my sketchy computer. I recall one of the benefits of the Ledger Nano S is that it is safe to use even on a computer with malware. I would not be surprised at all if I have malware, so as much as I don’t like it, start downloading the wallet to my hard drive.

While I’m waiting for the app to download, I explore the “Settings” option of my Nano S. Under “Settings” it offers “Display”, “Security”, “Device”, “Assistance”, and “Quit App”.  I chose “Quit App” and it brought me back to where I saw the Bitcoin and Ethereum symbols. So I guess “Settings” is an “App”? I went back into “Settings” and chose “Display” – this lets you adjust the LCD’s brightness, rotate the screen, or invert the colors. I didn’t want to do any, so I scrolled to “Back” and pressed both buttons to return to the previous menu. Now I selected “Security” which offers “Auto-lock”, “Change PIN” (oh good! I get a second chance if I think up a better one), “Shuffle PIN” (I have no idea what this means or how it would work), and “Passphrase” (which we now know means the sequence of 24 words that make the recovery key for this device). I don’t want to mess with any of these, so I scroll to “Back” and press both buttons. The next option is “Device” which offers “Firmware” (ugh, I don’t want to tinker with that) and “Reset all” (scary, no thanks). I choose “Back” and try the last option which is “Assistance”. I can’t image how much “assistance” a 3/8” by 1” screen can offer. I pushed both buttons and it displayed the following: “To get assistance, contact Ledger support.” Um, why even bother?? No phone number, no Web site. Seems like a waste of firmware (am I using that word right?). I pushed a button to scroll to the “Back” option but there wasn’t one! So I pushed both buttons and then it displayed help.ledgerwallet.com so I guess that’s the “more information” information. But I still don’t know how to leave this screen. I push both buttons again and now an email appears: help@ledgerwallet.com. I push both buttons again and it brings me back to the previous menu. It’s weird that that one screen doesn’t follow the same rhythm as the others. I scroll to “Quit App” and push both buttons.

After my tour of the LCD offerings, I noticed my Ripple App failed to download completely. It would have been nice if it warned me the file is 49MB. It would be a miracle if my dodgy internet could handle that. I’ll have to go to a WeWork to download it.

I went to WeWork and it downloaded in about 2 seconds. I downloaded the Ripple Wallet, the Bitcoin Wallet and the Ether Wallet. I think the Bitcoin Wallet and Ether Wallet are already installed on the Nano S device, but I didn’t want to have to go back to WeWork in case it wasn’t, so I downloaded them since I was in the presence of excellent Internet connectivity. They weren’t programs, they were “Chrome Extensions”. I’m not sure what the difference is, but they didn’t download a file to my desktop that I had to launch.

In my haste to get to WeWork, I forgot to bring my Nano S device with, so I have to go back home to finish setting it up.

Back home, I plugged in my Nano S device, then launched the Ripple Wallet program. I wasn’t happy to see the warning about the publisher not being verified and asking if I really want to open it. I clicked YES and ran the download. When it finished downloading, it asked me to click a FINISH button, then launched the Ledger Wallet Ripple program. It showed up as a separate program window in my application tray beside my Web browsers, but the screen was empty. My Nano S went to sleep, so I had to click the buttons and enter the PIN to wake it up.

On the Nano S’s tiny screen, it told me to “Use Wallet to View Accounts”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I clicked both buttons. That didn’t do anything. So I just clicked the Right button and scrolled through until I saw “Quit App”. I didn’t know I was in an App, so I selected it. Then I could scroll through the options of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Fido U2F, and Settings. There was no Ripple option which really bummed me out. I checked the Ripple program screen and it was still blank. When in doubt, I close programs and re-launch them. I also unplugged the Nano S and plugged it back in again. It prompted me to unlock the device and enter its PIN. I launched the Ripple program on my computer and its window said to launch the Ripple App on my device. It appears the Ripple App is not loaded on my device. I thought downloading the wallet to my desktop would also put it on my Nano S device since it was plugged in, but apparently not.

It appears I need to download the “Ledger Manager Program” to my computer which will enables the Ripple App to be loaded onto the Nano S device.

I thought this meant I had to go back to WeWork to download this program but I checked and it’s a Chrome Extension, which is only about 2 MB – a size my (terrible) home Internet can handle. I downloaded the extension and it showed up in my Chrome browser on the page chrome://apps/

I woke up my Nano S, then double-clicked on the Ledger Manager icon on chrome://apps/ and a new program window opened, listing all of the crypto currency wallets Ledger offers for the Nano S: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Fido U2F, Komodo, LiteCoin, Stratus, Zcash, Hello, Ripple, PoSW, Ark, Ubiq, Expanse, PIVX, Stealthcoin, Vertcoin, Viacoin, Neo, Bitcoin Gold, Stellar, Digibite, Hcash, and Qtum.

I clicked on the down arrow beside Ripple. My Nano S screen asked me to confirm allowing the Ledger Manager to access it. I clicked the button with the checkmark. The little LCD said it’s processing for about 2 seconds and then went back to the regular menu showing the Bitcoin symbol. I used the button to scroll and saw it now has a Ripple icon. I guess it installed in about 2 seconds. So now I have a Ripple Wallet on my Nano S. I now have to launch its desktop wallet to transfer my Ripple off of Kraken and into the Nano S.

But first, I want to install the Stellar wallet since that’s a baby coin I want to buy (read about my Baby Coin Fever here). I went back to the Leger Manager window and clicked the down arrow beside Stellar. This time the Nano S didn’t prompt me to allow the Ledger Manager to access it. It didn’t even say it was downloading the wallet. I scrolled past the Ripple wallet, and the Stellar wallet was magically on the tiny LCD screen.

Now I’m ready to load Ripple and baby coins onto the safety of my Ledger Nano S hardware wallet. But first, here is a clean and clear set of instructions I made on how to set up the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet so you can do it without the frustration.

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Editor

Just a regular schmo with a long held fascination for Bitcoin, alt coin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. I am not a coder and not in finance. This blog chronicles my frustrations, mistakes, observations and *occasional* victories as I navigate the digital cash marketplace.

10 thoughts on “Struggling With the Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet”

  1. Thanks for another informative blog. Where else could I get that type of information written in such an easy to follow way? I have been on the look out for this info.

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