Tails helps you to:
- use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship
- all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network
- leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly
- use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging
Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.
It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer's original operating system.
Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.
If you are interested in giving Tails a try on your current computer without running any risk, please check out our Guide: Running Linux From a USB Drive As a Virtual Machine or Bootable Disk.
Online anonymity and censorship circumvention with Tor
Tails relies on the Tor anonymity network to protect your privacy online:
- all software is configured to connect to the Internet through Tor
- if an application tries to connect to the Internet directly, the connection is automatically blocked for security.
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.
Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.
Using Tor you can:
- be anonymous online by hiding your location
- connect to services that would be censored otherwise
- resist attacks that block the usage of Tor using circumvention tools such as bridges
Upgrades and changes
- Update Linux to 4.19.37 and most firmware packages. This should improve the support for newer hardware (graphics, Wi-Fi, etc.).
- Enable all available mitigations for the MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) attacks and disable SMT (simultaneous multithreading) on all vulnerable processors to fix the RIDL, Fallout and ZombieLoad security vulnerabilities.
- Update Tor Browser to 8.5.
- Remove the following applications:
- Desktop applications
- Command-line tools
- Desktop applications
You can install these applications again using the Additional Software feature. Thanks to the removal of these less popular applications 3.14 and the removal of some language packs in 3.13.2, Tails 3.14 is 39 MB smaller than 3.13.
- Add back the OpenPGP Applet and Pidgin notification icons to the top navigation bar.
- Fix NoScript being deactivated when restarting Tor Browser.
- Most importantly, protect against a very strong fingerprinting technique called HTML5 canvas fingerprinting which can break your anonymity.
- Using HTML5 canvas fingerprinting, 2 or more collaborating websites can compare how graphics and text are displayed by your computer and determine whether 2 website visits are coming from the same computer or not.
Upgrades and changes
- Update Tor Browser to 8.0.8.
- Add support for the Bopomofo input method for Chinese using the Chewing library and improve support for the Pinyin input method. (#11292)
- If you still have problems typing in Bopomofo or Pinyin, please let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org (public mailing list) or email@example.com (private email).
- Save a backup of the configuration of the persistent storage every time it is modified. (#16461)
- This will help us understand and solve why sometimes all the settings of the persistent storage disappear. (#10976)
- Update Tor to 0.3.5.8.
- Update Thunderbird to 65.1.0.
- Update Linux to 4.19.28.
- Update the Intel microcode to 3.20180807a.2, which fixes more variants of the Spectre, Meltdown, and Level 1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerabilities.
- Prevent Additional Software from downloading packages that are already saved in the persistent storage. (#15957)
- Fix the localization of Tor Launcher, the application to configure a Tor bridge or a local proxy. (#16338)
- Fix accessibility when opening Tor Browser from a desktop notification. (#16475)
- Fix WhisperBack crashing when additional APT repositories is configured. (#16563)
New Installation Methods
The biggest news for 3.12 is that we completely changed the installation methods for Tails.
In short, instead of downloading an ISO image (a format originally designed for CDs), you now download Tails as a USB image: an image of the data as it needs to be written to the USB stick.
- For macOS, the new method is much simpler as it uses a graphical tool (Etcher) instead of the command line.
- For Windows, the new method is much faster as it doesn't require 2 USB sticks and an intermediary Tails anymore. The resulting USB stick also works better on newer computers with UEFI.
- For Debian and Ubuntu, the new method uses a native application (GNOME Disks) and you don't have to install Tails Installer anymore.
- For other Linux distributions, the new method is faster as it doesn't require 2 USB sticks and an intermediary Tails anymore.
We are still providing ISO images for people using DVDs or virtual machines. The methods for upgrading Tails remain the same.
Upgrades and changes
- Starting Tails should be a bit faster on most machines. (#15915)
- Tell users to use sudo when they try to use su on the command line.
- Update Linux to 4.19. Update Intel and AMD microcodes and most firmware packages. This should improve the support for newer hardware (graphics, Wi-Fi, etc.).
- Remove Liferea, as announced in Tails 3.9.
- Update Tor Browser to 8.0.5.
- Update Thunderbird to 60.4.0.
- Fix the black screen when starting Tails with some Intel graphics cards. (#16224)
- For more details, read our changelog.
We are especially proud to present you Tails 3.0, the first version of Tails based on Debian 9 (Stretch). It brings a completely new startup and shutdown experience, a lot of polishing to the desktop, security improvements in depth, and major upgrades to a lot of the included software.
Debian 9 (Stretch) will be released on June 17. It is the first time that we are releasing a new version of Tails almost at the same time as the version of Debian it is based upon. This was an important objective for us as it is beneficial to both our users and users of Debian in general and strengthens our relationship with upstream:
- Our users can benefit from the cool changes in Debian earlier.
- We can detect and fix issues in the new version of Debian while it is still in development so that our work also benefits Debian earlier.
This release also fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.
New startup and shutdown experience
- Tails Greeter, the application to configure Tails at startup, has been completely redesigned for ease of use:
- All options are available from a single window.
- Language and region settings are displayed first to benefit our international audience.
- Accessibility features can be enabled from the start.
This has been a long process, started three years ago with the UX team of NUMA Paris and lead only by volunteers. Join us on firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in future designs.
The shutdown experience has also been redesigned in order to be:
- More reliable. It was crashing on various computers with unpredictable results.
- More discrete. The screen is now totally black to look less suspicious.
Technically speaking, it is now using the freed memory poisoning feature of the Linux kernel.
Polishing the desktop
We switched to the default black theme of GNOME which has a more modern and discrete look:
- Tails 3.0 benefits from many other small improvements to the GNOME desktop:
- Files has been redesigned to reduce clutter and make the interface easier to use. Several new features have been added, such as the ability to rename multiple files at the same time and the ability to extract compressed files without needing a separate application.
- The notification area has been improved to allow easy access to previous notifications. Notification popups have also been repositioned to make them more noticeable.
- Shortcut windows have been added to help you discover keyboard shortcuts in GNOME applications.
- For example, press Ctrl+F1 in Files to display its shortcut window.
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