Better privacy with Tails


The Tails application menu offers a Tails item with documentation and access to the installation options. One option is the Tails Installer (Figure 5), which you can use to store the image on a DVD, a USB stick, or an SD card with at least 3.5GB of free space. You also have the option of creating an area for persistent data storage on the installation media (you will need additional storage capacity) or safely overwriting the data storage. You need to enable this area at the start of a session and release it by entering a password. To access this persistent space, select Places | Persistent.

Figure 5: The Tails Installer offers several options.

In addition to accessing the Tails installer through the disc image, you can also download it via the package manager on Debian and its derivatives. Instructions for accessing the Tails installer through Debian [7], other Linux distributions [8], and Windows [9] are described in minute detail in the documentation. Another option is to copy the Tails installer from another Tails installation that you trust [10].

Installing from Debian or one of its derivatives is simple. You need a recent Tails ISO image and a recordable DVD, USB stick, or SD card with at least 3.5GB capacity, and finally the Tails Installer, which you can install via Apt or a graphical package manager. On Debian 8 "jessie," you need to enable backports [11].

The Tails Installer automatically detects a plugged-in USB stick. If you are using multiple external media on the computer, make sure that you choose the correct device when confirming the target, because the installer will erase all data on the device. Finally, select the Tails image and start the installation (Figure 6).

Figure 6: In about 10 minutes, the image is stored on the medium.

The process takes about ten minutes and ends with a reboot. Subsequently, Tails boots from the USB stick or other boot medium.


The Live distribution Tails uses the Tor network to ensure relatively good anonymity. Relative because the Tor network can also be deanonymized given sufficient time and effort, although only intelligence services or governments have the means to do so.

Tails is not intended for installation on hard drives in computers. The system is based on Debian stable and is updated frequently to keep Firefox and the Tor Browser up-to-date and thus stable. Tor not only protects users when surfing the Internet; it also hardens the email client and the messenger.

If you want to delve deeper into Tails, see the Tails documentation and the work of the Capulcu activist group [12]. In the scope of its "Magazine for the promotion of resistance against the digital attack," Capulcu offers a very detailed manual for the operation and use of Tails.

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