Adam is an investigative journalist working in an organization raising awareness around State surveillance and digital freedom in Western Europe. He has been using lots of Tor in different environments for years.

As part of his work, he uses Tails both fully amnesiac and with persistence. He has dedicated hardware for running Tails: a modified ThinkPad X60 with many parts removed and only minimal input and output interfaces.

He uses Tails to create, edit, and sanitize sensitive documents before sharing them with other people or publishing them. He doesn't want to open these documents on his regular operating system. Sometimes he doesn't use Tails for 3 months and then use it everyday during 1-2 weeks to work on a specific story.

He also shares his secure machine with other people by his side to review or edit these sensitive documents instead of having to send these documents online. All-in-all he uses little Tor from Tails and use it more for data isolation.

Maybe Qubes OS does more than Tails against exploits but Tails is a cheaper and more practical way for him to create a secure machine: it's cheaper hardware and has an easier learning curve. He also feels better having a hardware isolation instead of the virtual isolation provided by Qubes OS. When he wants no network activity on his X60 he unplugs the Ethernet cable and that's it.

Things he likes:

  • He trusts Tails because he knows personally some of the developers; the same could apply to Debian.
  • Tails has been around for a while and is widely uses. It is well connected to the rest of the Tor community and has received more exposure.
  • He is used to Debian and feels comfortable hacking on the Debian base of Tails when needed. He doesn't really know RPM and that's another drawback of Qubes OS for him.
  • He's happy to see OnionShare in Tails now.

Things he dislikes:

  • His hardened X60 has a 32-bit processor and he won't be able to run Tails 3.0 on it anymore.
  • He finds it painful not to have the keyboard for his language listed in the short list of keyboards in the Welcome Screen.
  • He had troubles trying to install additional packages in Tails and instead reinstalled them every time. He wanted to use scantailor, a post-processing tool for scanned pages, and tesseract-ocr, an optical character recognition tool.
  • He had troubles displaying local files in Tor Browser and thinks that it's impossible to browser for anything under file:/// in Tor Browser.
  • He had a hard time finding a direct download with the new Installation Assistant: "I want a nerd link!"