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Article from Issue 253/2021

Tails 4.22 and Q4OS 4.6

Tails 4.22 (64-bit)

Tails 4.22 (the Amnesic Incognito Live System) is the latest release of one of the most popular security-oriented distributions. Based on Debian, Tails runs from an exterior device, either making all incoming and outgoing connections anonymous or blocking non-anonymous ones. It is especially well known for its Tor Browser, which provides an easy way to browse anonymously, control JavaScript, and remove ads. Other tools in Tails include Pidgin for encrypted instant messaging, OnionShare for anonymous file sharing, Thunderbird configured for encrypted email, and Electrum for bitcoin transactions.

A basic part of security and privacy is updates with the latest patches. In keeping with this criterion, Tails 4.22 consists largely of application updates. Other changes from earlier releases include reducing the time out when reconnecting from 60 seconds to 10 seconds and the ability to retry connections from the error screen. In addition, when an unsafe browser is run, Tails no longer restarts Tor automatically or mentions the existence of persistent storage. Moreover, when automatic updates are downloaded, Tails 4.22 ensures that a working mirror is used. All these changes are minor tweaks to improve security as well as convenience.

Over the years, Tails has become more user-friendly with each release. This constant improvement makes Tails 4.22 an ideal way for novices to secure their systems. However, be sure to read the documentation before using. While generally providing strong security, Tails has to be configured in certain ways for maximum security, and any installation can be only as secure as the base system from which it runs.

Q4OS 4.6 (64-bit)

Q4OS refers to itself as a "…fast and friendly, desktop-oriented operating system based on Debian Linux." The emphasis is on ease of use and a short learning curve. The Q4OS developers have slimmed down the standard Debian, removing unneeded services and components for a streamlined and efficient system. The desktop defaults to Plasma, but Q4OS also supports the cult favorite Trinity desktop, which forked from KDE all the way back in 2011 and has been in independent development ever since.

Q4OS 4.6 "Gemini" is a long-term support release, which means it will receive security patches and software updates for five years. The new release is based on Debian "bullseye" 11 and includes updates to the native Q4OS desktop profiler tool that allow the user to import and modify custom profiles. Other improvements include enhanced hardware support, as well as fixes and updates for many of the bundled applications.

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