It is possible to run Tails in a virtual machine using VirtualBox from a Windows, Linux, or macOS host operating system.

Running Tails inside a virtual machine has various security implications. Depending on the host operating system and your security needs, running Tails in a virtual machine might be dangerous.

VirtualBox has a free software version, called VirtualBox Open Source Edition and some proprietary components, for example to add support for USB devices.

For security reasons, we recommend you to use only the Open Source Edition, though it does not allow to use a persistent volume.

With the shared folders feature of VirtualBox you can access files of your host system from within the guest system.

Make sure to understand the security implications of accessing internal hard disks from Tails before using this feature.

Security considerations for Windows and macOS

In our security warnings about virtualization we recommend to run Tails in a virtual machine only if the host operating system is trustworthy.

Microsoft Windows and macOS being proprietary software, they cannot be considered trustworthy. Only run Tails in a virtual machine on Windows or OS X for testing purposes and do not rely on it for security.

Installation

To install VirtualBox in Debian or Ubuntu, execute the following command:

sudo apt install virtualbox

For instructions on how to install VirtualBox on other operating systems, refer to the VirtualBox documentation.

Running Tails from an ISO image

First, start VirtualBox.

To create a new virtual machine:

  1. Choose Machine ▸ New....
  2. In the Name and operating system screen, specify:
    • A name of your choice.
    • Type: Linux.
    • Version: Other Linux (64 bit).
    • Click Next.
  3. In the Memory size screen:
    • Allocate at least 2048 MB of RAM.
    • Click Next.
  4. In the Hard drive screen:
    • Choose Do not add a virtual hard drive.
    • Click Create.
    • Click Continue in the warning dialog about creating a virtual machine without a hard drive.

To configure the virtual machine to start from an ISO image:

  1. Select the new virtual machine in the left pane.
  2. Choose Machine ▸ Settings....
  3. Select System in the left pane.
  4. In the Extended Features section of the Motherboard tab, make sure that Enable I/O APIC is enabled.
  5. Select Storage in the left pane.
  6. Select Empty below Contoller IDE in the Storage Tree selection list in the right pane.
  7. Click on the CD icon on the right of the window and select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file... to browse for the ISO image you want to start Tails from.
  8. Check the Live CD/DVD option.
  9. Click OK.

To start the new virtual machine:

  1. Select the virtual machine in the left pane.
  2. Click Start.