Tails: a Debian Derivative

By Solveig

May, 2015



  • a tiny bit Debian contributor
  • Tails contributor (doc, bug triaging, community stuff, user support, reports writing, press, and speaker sometimes :))
  • not a developer. I know about Tails design and plans, but don't ask implementation questions :)


  • The Amnesic Incognito Live System: https://tails.boum.org
  • Live system (USB, DVD, SD card)
  • use the Internet anonymously, 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
  • works on (almost) any x86 computer
  • based on Debian ♥

Debian: our upstream

Relationship to Debian

  • Debian is our "base" and we add some Tails-specific things
  • we try to keep this changes (the "Delta") as small as possible because:
  • it's work to maintain it and we're few people
  • it's better if everybody benefits from our improvements
  • ... and we succeed: less modified packages in Tails/Wheezy than in Tails/Squeeze, will be even better in Tails/Jessie
  • Debian is a great upstream :)

What did we do upstream?

  • AppArmor (Ulrike did a OPW in Debian for it)
  • libvirt
  • Seahorse
  • fix OTR downgrade → v1
  • various Debian things (including Debian Live)

What we did not do internally

... despite pressure:

  • grsecurity
  • compile-time hardening

What we did internally

... and are in the process of sharing:

  • OpenPGP applet
  • erasing memory on shutdown
  • testing framework (cucumber, sikuli, libvirt)

Contribute to Tails by contributing to Debian

In Debian

In Tails: Redmine

Tails work that needs to be done in Debian: https://labs.riseup.net/code/projects/tails/issues?query_id=138

How can I help?

Help maintain backports

  • we use a lot of backports
  • e.g. poedit, libvirt, qemu, redmine, monkeysign
  • we could use more, e.g. the Xorg stack

Help maintain packages

Distribution-wide improvements

Help (not in Debian)

Help (not in Debian) (more)

Where to start?


I'm here.

  • Development:
  • Translation:
  • User experience:
  • Early testing:
  • Project:
  • Website: https://tails.boum.org/

  • Those slides are on our website, and this is a useful summary: https://tails.boum.org/contribute/how/debian/