How To Start and Use Tails Linux Distribution For Privacy, Security and Anonimity?

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Tails is a Linux distribution where privacy, anonymity and security are aimed. The full name of the Tails is Amnesic Incognito Lice System. Tails is Debian based distributions which means most of the packages and package management system is derived from Debian. In this tutorial, we will learn how to boot or start Tails with different configurations and security metrics.

Download Tails ISO or USB Image

Tails OS is mainly provided in two formats named ISO and USB image. ISO can be written into a CD or mounted into a virtual machine to boot. ISO also can be written into USB flash drive too. USB image only is written into a USB flash drive.

ISO can be downloaded from the following link directly. While writing this post the current version was Tails 3.13.2.

https://tails.boum.org/install/download-iso/index.en.html

OR we can use BitTorrent protocol to download from the following BitTorrent file.

https://tails.boum.org/torrents/files/tails-amd64-3.13.2.iso.torrent

Download Tails ISO or USB Image

Download Tails ISO or USB Image

USB Image can be downloaded from the following link.

https://tails.as1101.net/tails/stable/tails-amd64-3.13.2/tails-amd64-3.13.2.img

After the download is completed we can use a tool named Rufus in order to write downloaded images to the USB, CD.

Start Tails

Tails can be started in different ways. We can use tails in physical computers or in Virtual Machines. In this example, we will use Tails as a VM. We will mount the downloaded ISO image and set hardware resources like below.

  • 2GB RAM
  • 8 Processor
  • 60 GB Hard Disk Drive
  • CDROM
  • Network Adapter
Start Tails

Start Tails

Tails Boot Screen

When we boot system whether real or virtual we will see the following screen. This screen is very simple where we can boot Tails which is the default option. This will be started automatically in 10 seconds if we do not input anything. Another option is Troubleshoot Mode.

Tails Boot Screen

Tails Boot Screen

During boot pocess, we will see the following screen. This may take some time to boot because all operating system will be loaded from USB flash disk or etc.

Tails Boot Screen

Tails Boot Screen

Tails Boot Configuration

Before using the Tails OS we have provided some boot or start configuration about the Tails. Following configuration, the screen can be used to set these configurations.

  • Language is the operations system language
  • Keyboard Layout is the keyboard type and character layout
  • Formats is the number, percentage, date localization format
Tails Boot Configuration

Tails Boot Configuration

We can see that there is also an Additional Settings pane where we can provide more detail about the configuration.

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Tails Keyboard Configuration

We can set the Keyboard Layout of the Tails by click to the Keyboard Layout part like below. This will open a screen where we can select the Keyboard layout or we can simply enter the keyboard layout name like below which is turk as I am using Turkish keyboard layout. There is also some alternative layout about the same language like Turkish F, Turkish Alt-Q etc.

Tails Keyboard Configuration

Tails Keyboard Configuration

Tails Password Configuration

As stated previously there is also an Additional Settings part where we can set the following configuration about the Tails.

  • Administrator Password is used to unlock the screen-lock or install some software etc.
  • MAC Address Spoofing is a technical detail which will prevent man in the middle attacks over the network. This option is enabled by default which means we are protected against this type of attacks.
Tails Password Configuration

Tails Password Configuration

When we click to the Administrator Password configuration we will see the following screen. We can set the password from the textboxes and typing two times. Then we will click to the Add button from the right upper corner.

Tails Boot Add Administrator Password

Tails Boot Add Administrator Password

Disable Administrator Password

We have previously set the Administrator password for the Tails OS. We can disable it if we do not need from the boot configuration. Just click on the Administrator Password on the Additional Settings will pop-up a box where we can click the Disable button which will clear the password configuration.

Disable Administrator Password

Disable Administrator Password

Tails OS Desktop

After completing boot configuration the Tails OS will start. We can see that Tails OS where Gnome is the default desktop environment. There is documentation about the usage of the Tails. By default, the Onion Circuits which is free VPN services is started.

Tails OS Desktop

Tails OS Desktop

When we click to the Onion Circuit which is known as TOR we will see the intermediate hops used for anonymity and privacy.

Onion Circuits

Onion Circuits

KeePassX Secure Password Vault/Store

Password is a very important part of security and privacy. We should store them securely. KeePassX is a tool used to store passwords securely and encrypted. First, we will create a database to store the password securely which will be encrypted.

KeePassX Create Database

KeePassX Create Database

The following screen will create a new database. We will provide a password or master-password which must be very secure because all of our other passwords will be encrypted with this password.

KeePassX Create Database

KeePassX Create Database

Ok, we have a password database. Now we will store a password to this database. We will right click to the password list pane and click to the Add New Entry.

KeePassX Add Entry

KeePassX Add Entry

Add New Password

We will add some data about our password.

  • Title will be seen on the list which describes or names the password. In this case, we will store our Facebook password.
  • Username is the username which is realated with the account and password. In this case, we will use ismail as a username.
  • Password to store password. We can click to the eye icon in order to see the password in clear text.
  • Repeat will store the password again to prevent errors.
KeePassX Set Password

KeePassX Set Password

If we do not have any preset password we can generate a very secure one with the Gen button which is side by side with Repeat box. Here we can provide the length of the password, character types and special rules.

KeePassX Generate Password

KeePassX Generate Password

After the entry is added we will see a screen like below where the added account will be listed.

KeePassX Account List

KeePassX Account List

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