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As you might have noticed, the last monthly report was a long time ago, because the people who were doing them had really no time left. Somebody new finally takes over, let's hope it lasts :)

So, here is a minimal report for the second half of 2014, the next ones will be more complete.

Releases

Code

For details, see each release announcement. Notable changes include:

  • 1.1.1: I2P now needs to be enabled with a boot option. We made this choice after a security hole affected I2P ; this problem is now fixed, but if any other is discovered in the future, it won't affect Tails users who don't use I2P.

  • 1.2: Tor Browser replaces the previous Firefox + Torbutton setup. This allows us to work more closely with Tor people and provide a more unified experience to the user.

  • Several major applications are confined with AppArmor. This improves the overall security provided by Tails, and AppArmor work is going on to confine more applications :)

  • 1.2.1: finally remove TrueCrypt. It was abandonned upstream since a long time, and it's safer to use maintained, reviewed encryption methods, like LUKS (that's what the persistence uses). You can still open your TrueCrypt volumes, but we recommand you switch to LUKS volumes as soon as possible.

Funding

  • We passed a call for donations on our website which was quite successful. Donations are still welcome though :)

  • The grant proposal that we submitted to the Digital Defenders was approved. It will fund part of our activity over 2015:

    • Build our capacity to provide same-day security updates:
      • Increase the test coverage of our automated test suite to cover most of our remaining manual tests.
      • Write automated tests for the new features to be developed during
        1. .
      • Buy dedicated hardware to allow core developers to be able to run the test suite locally.
    • Streamline the installation process for less tech-savvy people:
      • Have Tails Installer available in Debian, Ubuntu, and derivatives.
      • Write a Firefox extension to automate the ISO verification at download time.
      • Rework our download and installation instructions as a web assistant to guide new users step-by-step through the process.
    • Provide one year of help desk.
  • We submitted a full proposal to the Open Technology Fund. It passed a first round of review and is now waiting for the approval of their final committee.

Outreach

  • Several Tails contributors attended the 31C3 in Hamburg. We held a Tails table where many people came to ask questions, get Tails installed, start to contribute or just say thank you. We even had some origami folding moments :)

  • We passed a call for help on porting Windows camouflage to GNOME 3.14.

Press & Testimonials

For more information concerning the second half of 2014, see our press page.

  • 2014-12-29: In Reconstructive narratives at the 31th Chaos Communication Congress, Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras explained that properly implemented encryption technologies such as Tor, Tails, GnuPG, OTR, and RedPhone are some of the only ones that can blind the pervasive surveillance of the NSA. They are rated as "catastrophic" by the NSA itself.

  • Tails is being used in the film Citizenfour by Laura Poitras and appears in the credits.

Documentation

Metrics

In August 2014:

  • Tails has been started more than 287,156 times in August. This makes 9,263 boots a day on average.
  • 19,910 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 110 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.

In September 2014:

  • Tails has been started more than 344,639 times in September. This makes 11,488 boots a day on average.
  • 26,311 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 102 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.

In October 2014:

  • Tails has been started more than 364,727 times in October. This makes 11,765 boots a day on average.
  • 27,342 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 160 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.

In November 2014:

  • Tails has been started more than 337,962 times in November. This makes 11,265 boots a day on average.
  • 21,301 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 74 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.

In December 2014:

  • Tails has been started more than 347,669 times in December. This makes 11,215 boots a day on average.
  • 26,549 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 91 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.
Posted Wed 04 Mar 2015 03:17:39 PM CET

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.3, is out.

This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible.

Changes

New features

  • Electrum is an easy to use bitcoin wallet. You can use the Bitcoin Client persistence feature to store your Electrum configuration and wallet.

  • The Tor Browser has additional operating system and data security. This security restricts reads and writes to a limited number of folders. Learn how to manipulate files with the new Tor Browser.

  • The obfs4 pluggable transport is now available to connect to Tor bridges. Pluggable transports transform the Tor traffic between the client and the bridge to help disguise Tor traffic from censors.

  • Keyringer lets you manage and share secrets using OpenPGP and Git from the command line.

Upgrades and changes

  • The Mac and Linux manual installation processes no longer require the isohybrid command. Removing the isohybrid command simplifies the installation.
  • The tap-to-click and two-finger scrolling trackpad settings are now enabled by default. This should be more intuitive for Mac users.
  • The Ibus Vietnamese input method is now supported.
  • Improved support for OpenPGP smartcards through the installation of GnuPG 2.

There are numerous other changes that may not be apparent in the daily operation of a typical user. Technical details of all the changes are listed in the Changelog.

Known issues

  • The Tor Browser shipped in Tails 1.3 has NoScript version 2.6.9.14 instead of version 2.6.9.15, which is the version used in The Tor Project's own Tor Browser 4.0.4 release.

  • See the current list of known issues.

Download or upgrade

Go to the download page.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for April 7.

Have a look to our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Posted Tue 24 Feb 2015 12:34:56 PM CET Tags:

You can help Tails! The first release candidate for the upcoming version 1.3 is out. Please test it and see if it works for you.

How to test Tails 1.3~rc1?

  1. Keep in mind that this is a test image. We have made sure that it is not broken in an obvious way, but it might still contain undiscovered issues.

  2. Either try the automatic upgrade, or download the ISO image and its signature:

    Tails 1.3~rc1 ISO image

    Tails 1.3~rc1 signature

  3. Verify the ISO image.

  4. Have a look at the list of known issues of this release and the list of longstanding known issues.

  5. Test wildly!

If you find anything that is not working as it should, please report to us! Bonus points if you first check if it is a known issue of this release or a longstanding known issue.

How to automatically upgrade from 1.2.3?

These steps allow you to automatically upgrade a device installed with Tails Installer from Tails 1.2.3 to Tails 1.3~rc1.

  1. Start Tails 1.2.3 from a USB stick or SD card (installed by the Tails Installer), and set an administration password.

  2. Run this command in a Root Terminal to select the "alpha" upgrade channel and start the upgrade:

    echo TAILS_CHANNEL=\"alpha\" >> /etc/os-release && \
         tails-upgrade-frontend-wrapper
    
  3. Once the upgrade has been installed, restart Tails and look at Applications ▸ Tails ▸ About Tails to confirm that the running system is Tails 1.3~rc1.

What's new since 1.2.3?

Notable changes since Tails 1.2.3 include:

  • Major new features

    • Distribute a hybrid ISO image again: no need for anyone to manually run isohybrid anymore! (ticket #8510)
    • Confine the Tor Browser using AppArmor to protect against some types of attack. Learn more about how this will affect your usage of Tails. (ticket #5525)
    • Install the Electrum bitcoin client, and allow users to persist their wallet. (ticket #6739)
  • Minor improvements

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues in 1.3~rc1

Required persistent configuration updates

If you have the Pidgin persistence preset enabled, then you perform the following manual steps to make it open links in the Tor Browser:

  • Start Tails
  • Enable persistence without the read-only option
  • Start Pidgin
  • Choose Tools ▸ Preferences
  • Click the Browser tab
  • Type /usr/local/bin/tor-browser %s in the Manual field
  • Click the Close button
Posted Thu 12 Feb 2015 12:00:00 PM CET

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.2.3, is out.

This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible.

On January 3rd, the SSL certificate of our website hosting provider, boum.org, expired. This means that if you still are running Tails 1.2.1 or older, you will not get any update notification. Please help spreading the word!

Changes

  • Security fixes

    • Upgrade to Linux 3.16.7-ckt2-1.
    • Upgrade to Tor Browser 4.0.3 (based on Firefox 31.4.0esr) (ticket #8700).
    • Improve MAC spoofing fail-safe mechanisms, which includes preventing one more way the MAC address could be leaked. (ticket #8571).
    • Disable upgrade checking in the Unsafe Browser. Until now the Unsafe Browser has checked for upgrades of the Tor Browser in the clear (ticket #8694).
  • Bugfixes

    • Fix startup of the Unsafe Browser in some locales (ticket #8693).
    • Repair the desktop screenshot feature (ticket #8087).
    • Do not suspend to RAM when closing the lid on battery power (ticket #8071).
    • Properly update the Tails Installer's status when plugging in a USB drive after it has started (ticket #8353).

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues

I want to try it or to upgrade!

Go to the download page.

As no software is ever perfect, we maintain a list of problems that affects the last release of Tails.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for February 24.

Have a look at our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Posted Wed 14 Jan 2015 12:34:56 PM CET Tags:

Call for participation!

Are you into GNOME development and want to participate to Tails? Do you want to improve your GTK or GNOME Shell theming skills while supporting users needing privacy and stealth? Consider porting the "Windows camouflage" of Tails to GNOME 3.14.

What is the Windows camouflage?

Tails documentation reads "if you are using a computer in public you may want to avoid attracting unwanted attention by changing the way Tails looks into something that resembles Microsoft Windows 8." This is what we call the "Windows camouflage".

Why is it useful?

We got reports that users have been arrested while using a privacy-enhancing distribution because their screen looked very different from others, which raised suspicion. It's why a Windows camouflage has been added to Tails.

What should be done?

Current Tails is based on GNOME 3.8 in "Fallback" mode. We are currently upgrading Tails on top of the upcoming version on Debian ("Jessie") which is based on GNOME 3.14. The Windows camouflage should be upgraded to the last version of GTK and ported from GNOME Panel to GNOME shell. That includes GTK and GNOME Shell theming through CSS as well as writing a custom GNOME Shell extension.

Why do we need you?

The team currently working on Tails is very busy and decided to focus on the core or the upgrade rather than on the Windows camouflage. We currently plan to go ahead with the initial Tails Jessie release even if the Windows camouflage is missing. However, we would love to ship a proper Windows camouflage and think it's a good occasion for you to give a hand. We'll provide support to anybody volunteering and work together on integrating the new theme to upcoming Tails Jessie snapshots.

Where should you start?

Please read https://tails.boum.org/blueprint/update_camouflage_for_jessie/, then write to tails-dev@boum.org. This is a public mailing list: https://mailman.boum.org/listinfo/tails-dev/. Please subscribe!

Posted Mon 05 Jan 2015 12:00:00 PM CET Tags:

Tails is being distributed free of charge because we strongly believe that free software is more secure by design. But also because we think that nobody should have to pay to be safe while using computers. Unfortunately, Tails cannot stay alive without money as developing Tails and maintaining our infrastructure has a cost.

We rely solely on donations from individuals and supporting organizations to keep Tails updated and getting always better. That's why we need your help!

If you find Tails useful, please consider donating money or contributing some of your time and skills to the project. Donations to Tails are tax-deducible both in the US and in Europe.

In October 2014, Tails was being used by more than 11 500 people daily. The profile of Tor and Tails users is very diverse. This diversity increases the anonymity provided by those tools for everyone by making it harder to target and to identify a specific type of user. From the various contacts that we have with organizations working on the ground, we know that Tails has been used by:

  • Journalists wanting to protect themselves or their sources.

    • Reporters Without Borders is an organization that promotes and defends freedom of information, freedom of the press, and has consultant status at the United Nations. RWB advertises the use of Tails for journalists to fight censorship and protect their sources. RWB uses Tails in their training sessions world-wide.

    • According to Laura Poitras, Glen Greenwald, and Barton Gellman, Tails has been an essential tool to work on the Snowden documents and report on the NSA spying. In a recent article for The Intercept, Micah Lee gives many details on how Tails helped them starting to work together.

    • Fahad Desmukh, a freelance journalist based in Pakistan who is also working for Bytes for All always has a Tails USB handy: "I can use it whenever I may need to and I especially make sure to keep it with me when travelling. Pakistan really isn't the safest place for journalists so thanks to the Tails team for an amazing tool."

    • Jean-Marc Manach, a journalist based in France and specialized in online privacy said that "war reporters have to buy helmets, bullet-proof vests and rent armored cars; journalists using the Internet for their investigations are much luckier: to be as secured as war reporters, they only have to download Tails, burn it on a CD, install it on a SD card, and learn the basics of information and communication security, and it's free!"

  • Human-right defenders organizing in repressive contexts.

    • Tails has been used in combination with Martus, an information system used to report on human rights abuses, to allow Tibetan communities in exile to protect themselves from targeted malware attacks.
  • Democracy defenders facing dictatorships.

  • Citizens facing national emergencies.

    During the last years, we noticed that the use of Tor and Tails systematically peaks when countries face national emergencies. Even if Tails represents a small amount of the global Tor usage, it is advertised by the Tor Project as the safest platform to protect from strong adversaries.

    • In Starting a revolution with technology, Slim Amamou, Tunisian blogger and former Secretary of State for Sport and Youth, explains that Tor "was vital to get information and share it" during the Tunisian revolution of 2011, because social media pages sharing information about the protests were "systematically censored so you could not access them without censorship circumvention tools".

    • Between January 25, the day the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 began, and January 27 2011, the number of Tor users in Egypt was multiplied at least by 4. On January 27, the Egyptian goverment decided to halt Internet access accross the country.

    • Between March 19 and March 31, the number of Tor users in Turkey was multiplied by 3 as a direct response to the growing Internet censorship in the country: on 20 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked in Turkey, and on 27 March 2014 access to YouTube was blocked.

  • Domestic violence survivors escaping from their abusers.

    • The Tor Project has been working with organizations fighting against domestic violence such as NNEDV, Transition House, and Emerge to help survivors escape digital surveillance from their abuser and report on their situation. As domestic abuse goes digital, circumvention tools like Tor and Tails end up as one of the only options.

If you know of other great stories of Tails users, please share them with us!

Posted Wed 24 Dec 2014 12:34:56 PM CET Tags:

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.2.2, is out.

This release is an emergency release that changes the root certificate which is used to verify automatic upgrades.

On January 3rd, the SSL certificate of our website hosting provider, boum.org, will expire. The new certificate will be issued by a different certificate authority. This certificate authority is verified by the automatic upgrade mechanism of Tails.

As a consequence, versions previous to 1.2.2 won't be able to do the next automatic upgrade to version 1.2.3 and will receive an error message from Tails Upgrader when starting Tails after January 3rd.

On top of that, a bug in Tails Upgrader prevents us from providing an automatic upgrade from version 1.2.1 to 1.2.2.

So all users should either:

  • Do a manual upgrade to version 1.2.2 before January 3rd. (recommended)
  • Remember to do a manual upgrade to version 1.2.3 on January 14th.

Changes

  • Minor improvements

    • Change the SSL certificate authority expected by Tails Upgrader when checking for new Tails versions on https://tails.boum.org/.

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues

The same issues as in 1.2.1 apply to this release:

For users of persistent GnuPG keyrings and configuration

If you have enabled the GnuPG keyrings and configuration persistence feature and have upgraded a Tails USB stick or SD card installation to Tails 1.2.1 or 1.2.2, then please follow these steps to benefit from the updated GnuPG configuration:

  1. Boot Tails with an administration password set.

  2. Run this command in a Root Terminal:

    cp /etc/skel/.gnupg/gpg.conf /home/amnesia/.gnupg/gpg.conf

I want to try it or to upgrade!

Go to the download page.

As no software is ever perfect, we maintain a list of problems that affects the last release of Tails.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for January 14.

Have a look at our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Posted Tue 16 Dec 2014 12:34:56 PM CET Tags:

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.2.1, is out.

This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible.

Changes

Notable user-visible changes include:

  • Security fixes

    • Upgrade Linux to 3.16.7-1.
    • Install Tor Browser 4.0.2 (based on Firefox 31.3.0esr).
  • Bugfixes

    • Restore mouse scrolling in KVM/Spice (ticket #7426).
    • Suppress excessive (and leaky!) Torbutton logging (ticket #8160).
    • Don't break the Unsafe and I2P Browsers after installing incremental upgrades (ticket #8152, ticket #8158).
    • External links in various applications should now open properly in the Tor Browser (ticket #8153, ticket #8186).
    • Fix clearsigning of text including non-ASCII characters in gpgApplet (ticket #7968).
  • Minor improvements

    • Upgrade I2P to 0.9.17-1~deb7u+1.
    • Make GnuPG configuration closer to the best practices (ticket #7512).
    • Remove TrueCrypt support and document how to open TrueCrypt volumes using cryptsetup (ticket #5373).

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues

For users of persistent GnuPG keyrings and configuration

If you have enabled the GnuPG keyrings and configuration persistence feature and have upgraded a Tails USB stick or SD card installation to Tails 1.2.1, then please follow these steps to benefit from the updated GnuPG configuration:

  1. Boot Tails with an administration password set.

  2. Run this command in a Root Terminal:

    cp /etc/skel/.gnupg/gpg.conf /home/amnesia/.gnupg/gpg.conf

I want to try it or to upgrade!

Go to the download page.

As no software is ever perfect, we maintain a list of problems that affects the last release of Tails.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for January 14.

Have a look at our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Posted Wed 03 Dec 2014 12:34:56 PM CET Tags:

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.2, is out.

This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible.

Changes

Notable user-visible changes include:

  • Major new features

    • Install (most of) the Tor Browser, replacing our previous Iceweasel-based browser. The version installed is from TBB 4.0 and is based on Firefox 31.2.0esr. This fixes the POODLE vulnerability.
    • Upgrade Tor to 0.2.5.8-rc.
    • Confine several important applications with AppArmor.
  • Bugfixes

    • Install Linux 3.16-3 (version 3.16.5-1).
  • Minor improvements

    • Upgrade I2P to 0.9.15, and isolate I2P traffic from the Tor Browser by adding a dedicated I2P Browser. Also, start I2P automatically upon network connection, when the i2p boot option is added.
    • Make it clear that TrueCrypt will be removed in Tails 1.2.1 (ticket #7739), and document how to open TrueCrypt volumes with cryptsetup.
    • Enable VirtualBox guest additions by default (ticket #5730). In particular this enables VirtualBox's display management service.
    • Make the OTR status in Pidgin clearer thanks to the formatting toolbar (ticket #7356).
    • Upgrade syslinux to 6.03-pre20, which should fix UEFI boot on some hardware.

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues

I want to try it or to upgrade!

Go to the download page.

As no software is ever perfect, we maintain a list of problems that affects the last release of Tails.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for November 25.

Have a look to our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Posted Thu 16 Oct 2014 12:34:56 PM CEST Tags:

You can help Tails! The first release candidate for the upcoming version 1.2 is out. Please test it and see if it works for you.

How to test Tails 1.2~rc1?

  1. Keep in mind that this is a test image. We have made sure that it is not broken in an obvious way, but it might still contain undiscovered issues.

  2. Either try the automatic upgrade, or download the ISO image and its signature:

    Tails 1.2~rc1 ISO image

    Tails 1.2~rc1 signature

  3. Verify the ISO image.

  4. Have a look at the list of known issues of this release and the list of longstanding known issues.

  5. Test wildly!

If you find anything that is not working as it should, please report to us! Bonus points if you first check if it is a known issue of this release or a longstanding known issue.

How to automatically upgrade from 1.1.2?

These steps allow you to automatically upgrade a device installed with Tails Installer from Tails 1.1.2 to Tails 1.2~rc1.

  1. Start Tails 1.1.2 from a USB stick or SD card, and set an administration password.

  2. Run this command in a Root Terminal to select the "alpha" upgrade channel and start the upgrade:

    echo TAILS_CHANNEL=\"alpha\" >> /etc/os-release && \
         tails-upgrade-frontend-wrapper
    
  3. Once the upgrade has been installed, restart Tails and look at System ▸ About Tails to confirm that the running system is Tails 1.2~rc1.

What's new since 1.1.2?

Notable changes since Tails 1.1.2 include:

  • Major new features

    • Install (most of) the Tor Browser, replacing our previous Iceweasel-based browser. The version installed is a development build based on Firefox 31.1.1.
    • Upgrade Tor to 0.2.5.8-rc.
    • Confine several important applications with AppArmor.
  • Bugfixes

    • Install Linux 3.16-2 from Debian unstable.
  • Minor improvements

    • Upgrade I2P to 0.9.15, and isolate I2P traffic from the Tor Browser by adding a dedicated I2P Browser. Also, start I2P automatically upon network connection, when i2p is present on the kernel command line.
    • Make it clear that TrueCrypt will be removed in Tails 1.2.1 (ticket #7739).
    • Enable VirtualBox guest additions by default (ticket #5730). In particular this enables VirtualBox's display management service.
    • Make the OTR status in Pidgin clearer thanks to the formatting toolbar (ticket #7356).
    • Upgrade syslinux to 6.03-pre20, which should fix UEFI boot on some hardware.

See the online Changelog for technical details.

Known issues in 1.2~rc1

Posted Thu 09 Oct 2014 12:00:00 PM CEST