Tails a Linux based operating system aimed to provide anonymity and security to its users. Unlike standard operating systems like Windows or Linux, it does not require to be installed on the machine; instead, it is launched from a LiveUSB stick, DVD or SD card.
It also doesn’t require many resources so almost any computer you have at hand can run it.
Tails stands for “The Amnestic Incognito Live System.” Its main appeal lies in the fact that it doesn’t leave any traces of user’s activities on the computer – everything it needs to storage is placed in RAM, and so is deleted when the session ends.
It encrypts your messages, and uses the latest word in cryptographic technology to do so.
The best thing about Tails is that once you set it up, you can carry it around with you – to the public library, school or any public network without fear of unauthorized peeking at your work or stealing your info.
Simply run it on any computer without leaving any trace after you finish! Everything is stored in RAM or the memory stick, if you choose that option. (This refers to account settings, PGP keys, etc.)
Tails is operating through Tor network and it includes some preinstalled apps, among others – Tor Browser, Libre Office, Audacity and Gimpy.
So, you don’t have to be a lurker of the darknet marketplaces to protect your anonymity – you can be a graphic designer, writer, audio designer, journalist who uses Tails on a public computer and wishes to preserve its work from public eyes.
There really aren’t that many cons of using Tails, it’s that effective. However, one definite flaw is that until today it still does not support VPN. However, as everything in Tails is encrypted anyway and deleted after the session, there’s really little room for paranoia.
It also doesn’t support P2P, so if you want to download anything from Torrent, you won’t be able to.
Setting up Tails isn’t a rocket science and anyone can do it. It is very similar to creating a Linux or Windows based Live CD.
Before you create the Live Tails DVD/USB/SD card, you should check the integrity of the ISO image you have downloaded to make sure that everything is in order and your copy of the file is genuine.
Tails ISO images are cryptographically signed by OpenPGP key and checking the signature is different for different platforms. For more on how to check the signature visit the official Tails guide.
Now, you only need to decide where you want to install the ISO file.
Note that your USB stick needs to be at least 4GB. The Tails itself wouldn’t take more than 1GB, but some extra space must be preserved.
1. First you need to burn the .iso file you’ve downloaded to the bootable DVD and run your Live DVD.
2. You will need to reboot your computer.
3. To boot into Tails, enter BIOS to choose to boot from DVD instead of the hard drive (usually it is “Del”, “Esc”, “F1”, “F2”, “F10” or “F12”, depending on the manufacturer of your computer).
4. When you enter the BIOS menu, go to boot options and choose DVD.
5. With your arrow keys highlight Live, and then hit enter. You’ll then see the below picture.
6. Leave “No” selected then Login. If you select “Yes” it will take you to some advanced settings not necessary for the purpose of running Tails.
7. Your Tails should be up and running and it should look something like this.
If you prefer using a DVD, your job of setting up Tails is done; but if you prefer installing Tails on USB stick, you have a few more steps to go.
1. You first have to connect your USB drive to your computer.
2. Then, select – Applications > Tails > Tails USB installer. This will lead you to installation control panel and you should be able to see a menu like this one bellow:
3. Then, select “Clone and Install” button.
4. Your USB drive should already be selected as the Target Device, otherwise, just select it manually.
5. Click – Install Tails and the installation should take less than ten minutes.
6. When the installation is complete, a popup menu should appear, click – OK and you are done.
7. Now, to boot your Tails from the USB drive, reboot your computer once again, enter the BIOS settings, and this time select USB drive as your first boot priority.
8. Before you can get to the Tails desktop, once again, you will be greeted by the login popup menu and this time select – Yes. Then login. It will lead you to Persistent Disk.
9. Choose you passphrase and click – Create. This enables Tails to store some of the information on your USB drive; it can preserve some of your personal data, like PGP keys, so you won’t have to copy them all the time or Pidgin settings or Claws e-mail settings, etc.
The most valuable thing about the Persistent Volume is that it can store certain configuration or files to it automatically.
If you want to change any of the persistent disk settings click Application > Tails > Configure persistent storage again, and this time, you will see a number of persistent volume features that you can enable:
- Personal Data: allows you to save your personal files in a folder that appears under the menu Places.
- GnuPG: stores any GPG keys or settings.
- SSH Client: all of your SSH keys and configuration files.
- Pidgin: Pidgin accounts and settings, including OTR encryption keys.
- Claws Mail: settings for the Claws e-mail program.
- GNOME Keyring: GNOME’s key management software.
- Network Connections: wireless passphrases and other network settings.
- APT Packages: any packages you install on the live system can be stored despite reboots if you click this option.
- APT Lists: any software repository lists that you download when you perform an apt-get update.
- Browser Bookmarks: self-explanatory.
- Printers: printer configuration settings.
Set up your Tails according to your needs. It is only reasonable to activate applications you will really need; have in mind that in order to apply these settings, you will have to reboot your PC first.
That’s basically it – enjoy your browsing on the internet in complete safety and anonymity.