Tails (operating system)

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Tails logo
Tails desktop.png
Tails 2.4 Desktop
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Initial release June 23, 2009; 7 years ago (2009-06-23)
Latest release 2.6 / September 20, 2016; 26 days ago (2016-09-20)[1]
Latest preview 2.6 release candidate 1 / September 3, 2016; 43 days ago (2016-09-03)[2]
Marketing target Personal computers
Update method APT
Package manager dpkg
Platforms IA-32, x86-64[3]
Kernel type Monolithic
Userland GNU
Default user interface GNOME 3
License GNU GPLv3[4]
Preceded by Incognito
Official website tails.boum.org

Tails or The Amnesic Incognito Live System is a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at preserving privacy and anonymity.[5] All its outgoing connections are forced to go through Tor,[6] and non-anonymous connections are blocked. The system is designed to be booted as a live DVD or live USB, and will leave no digital footprint on the machine unless explicitly told to do so. The Tor Project has provided financial support for its development.[7]


Tails was first released on 23 June 2009. It is the next iteration of development on Incognito, a Gentoo-based Linux distribution.[8] The Tor Project has provided financial support for its development.[7] Tails has also received funding from the Debian Project, Mozilla, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.[9]

Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Barton Gellman have each said that Tails was an important tool they used in their work with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.[10][11][12]

On 3 July 2014, German public television channel Das Erste reported that the NSA's XKeyscore surveillance system contains definitions that match persons who search for Tails using a search engine or visit the Tails website. A comment in XKeyscore's source code calls Tails "a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums".[13][14]

On 28 December 2014, Der Spiegel published slides from an internal NSA presentation dating to June 2012 in which the NSA deemed Tails on its own as a "major threat" to its mission, and when used in conjunction with other privacy tools such as OTR, Cspace, RedPhone, and TrueCrypt was ranked as "catastrophic," leading to a "near-total loss/lack of insight to target communications, presence..."[15][16]

Bundled software[edit]


Encryption and privacy[edit]

One may choose among a large number of languages when the system is booted.

Release history[edit]

Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release
Release history
Version Release date Notes
Old version, no longer supported: 0.2[17] 23 June 2009[18]
  • First public release.[18]
  • The project was called Amnesia.[18]
Old version, no longer supported: 0.5[19][third-party source needed] ?
  • First release since the project was renamed to The Amnesic Incognito Live System.[19]
Old version, no longer supported: 1.0[18] 29 April 2014[17][not in citation given]
  • 36th stable release.[18]
Old version, no longer supported: 1.5[20] ?
  • Disabled access to the local network via the Tor Browser.[20]
Old version, no longer supported: 1.7[20] ?
  • Replaced the Claws Mail email client with Icedove, which is based on Mozilla Thunderbird.[20]
  • Enabled booting Tails in offline mode, with networking disabled.[20]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.0[21] 26 January 2016[22][not in citation given]
  • It used Debian 8 as its base and included a new Gnome shell desktop environment, systemd, and a new installation process.[21]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.2[20] ?
  • Enabled viewing DRM-protected DVDs.[20]
  • Added a new “Onion Circuits” interface for viewing Tor routing information.[20]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.4[20] 7 June 2016[20]
  • Automatic account configuration of Icedove, harden kernel and firewall, update the DRM and Mesa graphical libraries.[23]
  • New version of Tor Browser.[20]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.5[24] 2 August 2016[24]
Current stable version: 2.6[1] 20 September 2016[1]
Version Release date Notes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Tails 2.6 is out". 2016-09-21. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  2. ^ "Call for testing: 2.6~rc1". 2016-09-03. Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  3. ^ Tails - Frequently asked questions - Hardware compatibility
  4. ^ "Tails 0.11 incognito live system released", The H, 30 Apr 2012, retrieved 12 Aug 2012 
  5. ^ Vervloesem, Koen (27 Apr 2011), "The Amnesic Incognito Live System: A live CD for anonymity", LWN.net, retrieved 12 Aug 2012 
  6. ^ "Anonym im Netz" [Anonymous on the Net], TecChannel (in German), 6 Feb 2012, retrieved 12 Aug 2012 
  7. ^ a b "Finances". Tails. 4 Apr 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Gray, James (16 Sep 2011), "The Tails Project's The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails)", Linux Journal, retrieved 12 Aug 2012 
  9. ^ "Tails report for May, 2014". Tails. 14 Jun 2014. 
  10. ^ Timm, Trevor (2 Apr 2014). "Help Support the Little-Known Privacy Tool That Has Been Critical to Journalists Reporting on the NSA". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  11. ^ Finley, Klint (14 Apr 2014). "Out in the Open: Inside the Operating System Edward Snowden Used to Evade the NSA". WIRED. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  12. ^ Condliffe, Jamie (15 Apr 2014). "Try the Super-Secure USB Drive OS That Edward Snowden Insists on Using". Gizmodo. Retrieved 15 Apr 2014. 
  13. ^ Jacob Appelbaum, A. Gibson, J. Goetz, V. Kabisch, L. Kampf, L. Ryge (3 Jul 2014). "NSA targets the privacy-conscious". DasErste.de. 
  14. ^ Bruce Schneier (3 Jul 2014). "NSA Targets Privacy Conscious for Surveillance". Schneier on Security. 
  15. ^ SPIEGEL Staff (28 Dec 2014). "Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA's War on Internet Security". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 23 Jan 2015. 
  16. ^ "Presentation from the SIGDEV Conference 2012 explaining which encryption protocols and techniques can be attacked and which not" (PDF). Der Spiegel. 28 Dec 2014. Retrieved 23 Jan 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "Tails 1.0 is out". Tails. n.d. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Murphy, David (1 May 2014). "Secure OS Tails Emerges From Beta". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  19. ^ a b "version 0.5". Tails. n.d. Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hoffman, Chris (9 June 2016). "Tails, the anonymity-focused Linux distribution with deep Tor integration, reaches version 2.4". PCWorld. IDG. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Paul, Ian (27 January 2016). "The ultra-secure Tails OS beloved by Edward Snowden gets a major upgrade". PCWorld. IDG. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  22. ^ "Tails 2.0 is out". Tails. 2016-01-26. Retrieved 2016-01-26. 
  23. ^ "Tails 2.4 is out". Tails. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2016-06-07. 
  24. ^ a b "Tails 2.5 is out". 2016-08-02. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 

External links[edit]