Sat, 05 Jan 2013 by Bolshevik in os | Comments

Recently I've found an interesting Debian distributive claiming to provide secure way to access the Internet from any place. It is called Tails.

It pays attention to one's privacy and anonymity by not storing any information on the computer without explicit command, the Internet is browsed using Tor anonymity network, the distribute incorporates all the cryptographic tools to encrypt file or volumes and the funniest thing is that there is an XP mode of the GUI to be used when one doesn't want to attract attention.

I've tried the distribution and added it to my live USB stick.


There are applications on the live DVD allowing to install the distributive onto a USB stick. Of course, the authors advise to use read-only media.

Another way is to install Tails onto the USB stick manually. To achieve this one will need a FAT16/32 formatted USB stick. Assuming that the stick device name is /dev/sdc we need to unmount it and install syslinux:

sudo umount /dev/sdc1
sudo syslinux -i /dev/sdc1

Extract and insert the stick back into computer.

Copy contents of the ISO image onto the USB stick, rename isolinux folder to syslinux, rename isolinux.cfg configuration file into syslinux.cfg.

All must work.


The only negative thing I've noticed is the space required for the distributive. Comparing to systemrescuecd it needs ~880 MB for squashfs root system image. After analyzing the file system contents I managed to decrease it by ~100 MB and made it require ~745 MB. It's not a final point and I hope the authors will pay more attention to distribution size and make it smaller if possible.

To delete useless files, create a temporary directory and enter it:

$ mkdir squashfs
$ cd squashfs

Uncompress squashfs image using unsquashfs (squashfs-tools package may be required to be installed):

sudo unsquashfs filesystem.squashfs

Super user privilege is required to create device files and assign custom uids and groups to files unpacked. It is safe to delete:

  1. Unneeded locales from ./squashfs-root/usr/share/locale
  2. rm -rf ./squashfs-root/var/lib/anthy
    rm ./squashfs-root/var/cache/apt/archives/*
    rm ./squashfs-root/var/lib/apt/lists/*_Packages
    rm ./squashfs-root/var/lib/apt/lists/*_Release
    rm ./squashfs-root/var/lib/apt/lists/*.IndexDiff
  3. All examples in /usr/share/doc and some unneeded documentation.

Assemble the file system back

mksquashfs squashfs-root/ filesystem.squashfs -noappend -always-use-fragments -comp xz

That's all.


comments powered by Disqus


PHP web developer, python developer