See the release schedule.


Export the following environment variables to be able to copy'n'paste the scripts snippets found on this page:

  • version numbers:

    export VERSION=$(dpkg-parsechangelog -SVersion)
    export TAG=$(echo "$VERSION" | sed -e 's,~,-,')
    export PREVIOUS_VERSION=$(dpkg-parsechangelog --offset 1 --count 1 -SVersion)
  • NEXT_VERSION: set to the version number of the next Tails release (e.g. 0.23 when releasing 0.22.1)

  • MAJOR_RELEASE: set to 1 if preparing a major release, to 0 else
  • ISOS: the directory where one stores tails-i386-* sub-directories like the ones downloaded with BitTorrent.
  • ARTIFACTS: the directory where build artifacts (e.g. the .packages file) land.
  • MASTER_CHECKOUT: a checkout of the master branch of the main Tails Git repository.
  • RELEASE_BRANCH: the name of the branch of the main Tails Git repository used to prepare the release (stable or testing).
  • RELEASE_CHECKOUT: a checkout of the branch of the main Tails Git repository used to prepare the release (stable or testing).
  • TAILS_SIGNATURE_KEY=0D24B36AA9A2A651787876451202821CBE2CD9C1
  • IUK_CHECKOUT: a checkout of the relevant tag of the iuk Git repository.
  • PERL5LIB_CHECKOUT: a checkout of the relevant tag of the perl5lib Git repository.


The release manager role documentation has more tasks that should be done early enough.

Update Iceweasel preferences

  • update extensions.adblockplus.currentVersion in config/chroot_local-includes/etc/iceweasel/profile/user.js

Coordinate with Debian security updates

See Debian security updates.

Select the right branch

For a major release, the devel branch should be merged into the testing branch and changes should be made from there.

From minor releases, work should happen in stable.

Update included files

AdBlock patterns

Patterns are stored in config/chroot_local-includes/etc/iceweasel/profile/adblockplus/.

  1. Boot Tails
  2. Open ToolsAddons
  3. Select Adblock Plus in extensions
  4. Open PreferencesFilter preferences…
  5. For each filters, click ActionsUpdate filters
  6. Close Iceweasel
  7. Copy the .mozilla/firefox/default/adblockplus/patterns.ini from this Iceweasel instance to the config/chroot_local-includes/etc/iceweasel/profile/adblockplus directory in the Tails Git checkout.
  8. Commit:

    git commit -m 'Update AdBlock Plus patterns.' \

Upgrade bundled binary Debian packages

That is: make sure the bundled binary Debian packages contain up-to-date localization files.

For each bundled Debian package, cd into the package's root directory (e.g. a checkout of the whisperback repository), and then run the import-translations script that is in the main Tails repository. For example:

cd whisperback

If the import-translations script fails to import translations for the current package, manually copy updated PO files from the Transifex branches of git:// (e.g. whisperback_completed) instead. In this case, skip PO files for translation teams that use Git.

Add and commit.

Then check the PO files using i18nspector. Correct all the errors that are not in the ignored list of check Commit the changes if any.

Then see the relevant release processes:

Update PO files

Pull updated translations for languages translated in Transifex:


Refresh the code PO files:


Commit the result, including new PO files:

git add po && git commit -m 'Update PO files.'


If we are at freeze time for a major release:

  • Merge the master Git branch into devel.
  • Merge the devel Git branch into testing.
  • Reset the testing APT suite to the state of the devel one, as documented on APT repository.

Else, if we are at freeze time for a point-release:

  • Merge the master Git branch into stable.


Remove the placeholder entry for next release in debian/changelog, and then:


This populates the Changelog with the Git log entries.

Then, launch an editor for the needed cleanup of the result:

dch -e

Then, gather other useful information from:

  • every custom bundled package's own Changelog (Greeter, Persistent Volume Assistant, etc.);
  • the "Fix committed" section on the Release Manager View.

Finally, commit:

git commit debian/changelog -m "Update changelog for $VERSION."

Included website

Merge master

Merge master into the branch used for the release:

git fetch origin && git merge origin/master

version number

If preparing a RC, skip this part.

In the branch used to build the release, update the wiki/src/inc/* files to match the version number and date of the new release. Set the date at least 24 hours in the future! Between tests and mirror synchronization, the build will not be released on the same day. Try to make sure it matches the date of the future signature.

RELEASE_DATE='June 26, 2013'

echo "$VERSION"      > wiki/src/inc/stable_i386_version.html
echo "$RELEASE_DATE" > wiki/src/inc/stable_i386_date.html
$EDITOR wiki/src/inc/*.html
git commit wiki/src/inc/ -m "Update version and date for $VERSION."

features and design documentation

Read the Changelog carefully, and update features pages accordingly.


git grep PENDING wiki/src/contribute/design*

... and remove the PENDING-FOR-N.M warnings.

Website translations

Refresh the website PO files and commit the ones corresponding to pages that were added or changed accordingly to changes coming with the new release. This e.g. ensures that the RC call for translation points translators to up-to-date PO files:

./build-wiki && git add wiki/src && git commit -m 'Update website PO files.'

Call for translation

If at freeze time:

  1. Ask on tails-l10n that someone checks the PO files of po/ and of the website using check, and corrects all the errors.
  2. Send a call for translations to tails-l10n, making it clear what Git branch the translations must be based on, and what are the priorities. Also, add a few words to remember the translation teams using Git that they should regularly contact Transifex translators, as detailed on the documentation for translators.

Tag the release in Git

git tag -u "$TAILS_SIGNATURE_KEY" -m "tagging version ${VERSION}" "${TAG}"
git push --tags

(Pushing the tag is needed so that the APT repository is updated, and the Tails APT configuration works at build and boot time. It might be premature, as testing might reveal critical issues, but this is a signed tag, so it can be overridden later. Yes, there is room for improvement here.)

Prepare the versioned APT suite

Follow the post-tag APT repository documentation.

Build images

Build the almost-final image

Build images and carefully read the build logs to make sure nothing bad happened.

SquashFS file order

  1. Build an ISO image.
  2. Burn a DVD.
  3. Boot this DVD on bare metal.
  4. Add profile to the kernel command-line.
  5. Three minutes after iceweasel has been loaded, retrieve the new sort file from /var/log/boot-profile.
  6. Copy the new sort file to config/binary_rootfs/squashfs.sort.
  7. Cleanup a bit.
  8. Inspect the Git diff (including diff stat), apply common sense.
  9. git commit -m 'Updating SquashFS sort file' config/binary_rootfs/squashfs.sort

Build the final image

Then all included files should be up-to-date and the versioned APT suite should be ready, so it is time to:

  • tag the release again, with all included files in
  • git push --tags
  • build the final image!

Generate the OpenPGP signatures and Torrents

First, create a directory with a suitable name and go there:

mkdir "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION" && cd "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION"

Second, copy the built image to this brand new directory. Then, rename it:

mv "$ARTIFACTS/tails-i386-*-$VERSION-*.iso" "tails-i386-$VERSION.iso"

Third, generate detached OpenPGP signatures for the image to be published, in the same directory as the image and with a .sig extension; e.g.

gpg --armor --default-key "$TAILS_SIGNATURE_KEY" --detach-sign *.iso
rename 's,\.asc$,.sig,' *.asc

Fourth, go up to the parent directory, create a .torrent file and check the generated .torrent files metainfo:

cd .. && \
mktorrent -a '' "tails-i386-${VERSION}" && \
btshowmetainfo tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent

Fifth, generate detached OpenPGP signatures for every published .torrent file:

gpg --armor --default-key "$TAILS_SIGNATURE_KEY" --detach-sign \
  tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent && \
mv tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent.{asc,sig}

Prepare incremental upgrades

Build the Incremental Upgrade Kits

Use tails-create-iuk to build an IUK for the previous stable release and (if applicable) the last RC for the version being released. Example:

sudo su -c "cd $IUK_CHECKOUT && \
    ./bin/tails-create-iuk \
       --squashfs-diff-name \"$VERSION.squashfs\"           \
       --old-iso \"$ISOS/tails-i386-$PREVIOUS_VERSION/tails-i386-$PREVIOUS_VERSION.iso\" \
       --new-iso \"$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION/tails-i386-$VERSION.iso\"          \
       --outfile \"$ISOS/Tails_i386_${PREVIOUS_VERSION}_to_${VERSION}.iuk\""

Note that developer tools for creating IUK and upgrade-description files were only tested on Debian sid. It should hopefully work well on Wheezy too, but I would not even try to use it on Squeeze.

Prepare upgrade-description files

  1. Prepare upgrade-description files (see the upgrade-description files specification for details). The idea is to:

    • update (create if needed) an upgrade-description file for every previous supported release (e.g. N~rc1, N-1, N-1~rc2) that replaces all existing upgrade paths with the path to the version being released;
    • create a new upgrade-description for the version being released, that expresses that no upgrade is available for that one yet.

    This is what tails-iuk-generate-ugrade-description-files tool does:

    ( cd $IUK_CHECKOUT && \
    ./bin/tails-iuk-generate-upgrade-description-files \
        --version "$VERSION" \
        --next-version "$NEXT_VERSION" \
        --next-version "${NEXT_VERSION}~rc1" \
        --iso "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION/tails-i386-$VERSION.iso" \
        --previous-version "$PREVIOUS_VERSION" \
        --previous-version "${VERSION}~rc1" \
        --iuks "$ISOS" \
        --release-checkout "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT" \
        --major-release "$MAJOR_RELEASE" \
    • The --iuks argument must point to the directory where the IUKs generated at the previous step are stored.
    • At least the last stable release and the previous release candidates for the version being released must be passed to --previous-version.
    • A few (say, 2 or 3) older versions must be passed with --previous-version, so that users who skipped a release or two are directly informed of the new one.
    • If preparing a release candidate, add --channel alpha
    • If preparing a release candidate, do not pass --next-version "${NEXT_VERSION}~rc1"
  2. Create an armoured detached signature for each created or modified upgrade-description file.

    find "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT/wiki/src/upgrade/" \
       -type f -name upgrades.yml -exec \
          gpg -u "$TAILS_SIGNATURE_KEY" --armor --detach-sign {} \;
  3. Rename each detached signature to .pgp:

    find "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT/wiki/src/upgrade/" -type f \
       -name upgrades.yml.asc -exec rename -f 's,\.asc$,.pgp,' {} \;
  4. Add and commit the upgrade-description files and their detached signatures to the Git branch used to prepare the release (stable or testing):

    ( cd "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT" && git add wiki/src/upgrade && \
       git commit -m "Update upgrade-description files." )
  5. Check the syntactic correctness of all upgrade-description files:

    ( cd $IUK_CHECKOUT && \
       ./bin/tails-iuk-check-upgrade-description-file \
          ${RELEASE_CHECKOUT}/wiki/src/upgrade/v1/*/*/*/*/upgrades.yml )
  6. If preparing a release candidate, move the generated or updated files to $MASTER_CHECKOUT, commit and push: given the updates are advertised on the alpha channel, while all users use the stable one by default, this will allow you to more easily test the IUK without impacting anyone.

Upload images

Sanity check

Verify that the current source for Firefox is still the same we've used when preparing our custom Iceweasel package: e.g. FF17.0.8 got re-tagged and re-uploaded at the last minute, due to a test failure.

Better catch this before people spend time doing manual tests.

Announce, seed and test the Torrents

Announce and seed the Torrents.

Test them with a BitTorrent client running in a different place.

Download and seed image from lizard

scp "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent" \
   bittorrent.lizard: && \
   ssh bittorrent.lizard transmission-remote --add tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent

Publish the ISO over HTTP

Upload the images to the primary rsync mirror. Best practice is to first let bittorrent.lizard download the image, and then copy it from there to rsync.lizard:

ssh \
    scp -3 -r \
        bittorrent.lizard:/var/lib/transmission-daemon/downloads/tails-i386-$VERSION \
# set DIST to either 'alpha' (for RC:s) or 'stable' (for actual releases)
ssh rsync.lizard << EOF
  chown -R root:rsync_tails tails-i386-$VERSION
  chmod -R u=rwX,go=rX tails-i386-$VERSION
  sudo mv tails-i386-$VERSION /srv/rsync/tails/tails/$DIST/

Update the time in project/trace file on the primary rsync mirror and on the live wiki (even for a release candidate):

TRACE_TIME=$(date +%s) &&
echo $TRACE_TIME | ssh rsync.lizard "cat > /srv/rsync/tails/tails/project/trace" && \
[ -n "$MASTER_CHECKOUT" ] && \
echo $TRACE_TIME > "$MASTER_CHECKOUT/wiki/src/inc/trace" &&
   cd "$MASTER_CHECKOUT" && \
   git commit wiki/src/inc/trace -m "Updating trace file after uploading $VERSION."

Publish the IUKs

Same as for the ISO, but the IUKs should land into /srv/rsync/tails/tails/$DIST/iuk/.

Wait for the HTTP mirrors to catch up

Wait for the next rsync pull.

Make sure every webserver listed in the round robin pool has the new version. Drop those that are lagging behind and notify their administrators.

Test downloading the ISO and IUK over HTTP.


  1. Set up a Gobby document and copy the manual test suite in it.
  2. Email to announce that tests may start:
    • make it clear what's the deadline
    • make it clear where and how you expect to get feedback
    • attach the Torrent
    • attach the .packages file
  3. Email to ask them to test the tentative ISO.
  4. Make sure someone is committed to run the automated test suite.
  5. Make sure that enough people are here to run the tests, that they report their results in due time, and that they make it clear when they're leaving for good.

While this happens, the release manager should prepare for the next steps. Please read on!

Update the website and Git repository

What follows in this section happens on the release branch in $RELEASE_CHECKOUT.

If preparing a final release

Skip this part if preparing a RC.

In order to get any new documentation into the website, merge either stable or testing (depending on which release you just did) into master.

Rename the .packages file to remove the .iso and build date parts of its name:

mv "$ARTIFACTS"/tails-i386-*-"$VERSION"-*.iso.packages \

Copy the .iso.sig, .packages, .torrent and .torrent.sig files into the website repository:

cp "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION/tails-i386-$VERSION.iso.sig" \
   "$ARTIFACTS/tails-i386-$VERSION.packages" \
   "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent" \
   "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION.torrent.sig" \

Remove from wiki/src/torrents/files/ any remaining file from the previous release (including any RC).

Generate the SHA-256 hash of every image to be released in inc/*:

sha256sum $ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION/tails-i386-$VERSION.iso | \
  cut -f 1 -d ' ' | tr -d '\n' \
  > "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT/wiki/src/inc/stable_i386_hash.html"

Update the known issues page.

Write the announcement for the release in news/version_$TAG.mdwn, including:

  • Update the meta title directive.
  • Update the meta date directive.
  • Make sure there's an announce tag to have an email sent to the news mailing-list.
  • Document important config changes that persistence users have to do themselves (e.g. the Pidgin proxy settings change in 9925321 breaks all existing persistent profiles).
  • Document known issues.

Write an announcement listing the security bugs affecting the previous version in security/ in order to let the users of the old versions know that they have to upgrade. Date it a few days before the ISO image to be released was built. Including:

If preparing a release candidate

Skip this part if preparing a final release.

Copy the .iso.sig file into the website repository:

cp "$ISOS/tails-i386-$VERSION/tails-i386-$VERSION.iso.sig" \

Write the announcement for the release in $MASTER_CHECKOUT/wiki/src/news/test_$TAG.mdwn, including:

  • Update the meta title directive.
  • Update the meta date directive.
  • Document important config changes that persistence users have to do themselves (e.g. the Pidgin proxy settings change in 9925321 breaks all existing persistent profiles).
  • Document known issues.

In any case

Generate PO files for the announcements with ./build-wiki.

Then, send them to so that they get translated shortly, perhaps even soon enough to integrate them before pushing the release out officially.

Then, record the last commit before putting the release out for real:

git add wiki/src && \
git commit -m "releasing version ${VERSION}"

Go wild!

Sanity check

Verify once more that the current source for Firefox is still the same we've used when preparing our custom Iceweasel packages.



Push the last commits to our Git repository:

( cd "$RELEASE_CHECKOUT" && git push ) && \
( cd "$MASTER_CHECKOUT" && git fetch && git merge "$RELEASE_BRANCH" && git push )

... and ask to refresh the ikiwiki wrappers for our website.

Bug tracker

Skip this part if preparing a release candidate.

Mark all issues fixed in this release as Status: Resolved in our bug tracker. For a list of candidates, see:

Then, mark the just-released Redmine milestone as done: go to the target version page, click Edit, and set Status to Closed.

Tickets linked from the website

Go through the tickets linked from the documentation and support sections of the website and point documentation writers to the ticket that might be resolved in this release.

git grep tails_ticket -- "wiki/src/[ds]*/*.mdwn"

Test suite

Remove indications of known broken tests that were fixed by this release:

git grep XXX -- features


Update the topic in our chatroom.


Announce the release by tweeting a link to the "news" page.

Tor blog

We announce major releases on the Tor blog:

  • login to their Drupal
  • Add a New Blog Post
  • add the same tags as the previous release announce had
  • choose Filtered HTML as the Input format
  • paste the HTML generated by ikiwiki from the announce in news/ into the textarea in the blog post editor
  • cleanup a bit to make it shorter
  • add a link to our download page
  • change the internal links into external links
  • turn <h1> into <strong>
  • direct users to our communication channels for comments and feedback
  • disable comments

Tor weekly news

Write a short announcement for the Tor weekly news, or find someone who's happy to do it.

Prepare for the next release

XXX: adapt / fork for release candidates. In the meantime, read all this, and skip what does not make sense for a RC.

  1. Move the previous stable release to obsolete on the mirrors.
  2. Remove any remaining RC for the just-published release from the mirrors.
  3. Pull master back and merge it into devel.
  4. Follow the post-release APT repository documentation.
  5. Push the resulting devel branch.
  6. If this was a major release, then reset experimental:
    • take note of branches merged into experimental, but not into devel:

      git log --pretty=oneline --color=never --merges devel..experimental \
        | /bin/grep 'into experimental$' \
        | sed -e 's,^[a-f0-9]\+\s\+,,' | sort -u
    • git checkout experimental && git reset --hard devel

    • hard reset the experimental APT suite to the state of the devel one.
    • merge additional branches into experimental (both at the Git and APT levels)

      for branch in $UNMERGED_BRANCHES ; do
         git merge $branch
         suite=$(echo $branch | sed -e 's,[/_],-,g')
         if [ $(ssh reprepro list $suite | wc -l) -gt 0 ] ; then
            ssh tails-merge-suite $suite experimental
    • git push --force origin experimental

  7. Push the release tag to lizard for Jenkins' consumption: git push --tags lizard
  8. Force-push all major branches to lizard:

        for branch in stable testing devel experimental ; do
           git push --force lizard $branch:$branch
  9. Make sure Jenkins manages to build all major branches fine:

  10. In the Release Manager View custom Redmine query, set Target version to the next release. Save.
  11. On the roadmap, update the Due date for the Broken windows so that this section appears after the next release.
  12. Bonus points if you:
    • Merge devel into feature/wheezy, if the latter is not lagging behind too much. Doing it for APT is quite tricky, enjoy.
    • Update the packages (Iceweasel, tails-greeter, etc.) that require to be rebuilt for feature-wheezy.
    • Trigger a Jenkins build of feature/wheezy.

Related pages