Tails 3.0 will require a 64-bit x86-64 compatible processor. As opposed to older versions of Tails, it will not work on 32-bit processors.
We have waited for years until we felt it was the right time to do this switch. Still, this was a hard decision for us to make. Today, we want to explain why we eventually made this decision, how it will affect users, and when.
Our current goal is to release Tails 3.0, and stop supporting computers with a 32-bit processor, on June 13, 2017.
Here is the quickest way to find out:
- Start Tails.
- Choose to open a terminal.
Execute the following command to display system information:
Then, there are two possible cases:
If you see
x86_64, then you're good: Tails 3.0 should work fine on this computer. But the best way to be 100% sure is to try one of the test versions of Tails 3.0. One was released last November, and a new one should be published later this week, so: stay tuned!
Else, if you see
i686, then we have bad news: Tails 3.0 will not work on this computer. You now have four and a half months to find a computer with a 64-bit processor. Sorry, and good luck with that!
It's no surprise that over the last years, the number of people who use Tails on a 32-bit computer has dropped: most 32-bit computers are at least ten years old, and one after the other their hardware stops working. As a result, in the beginning of 2016, only 4% of Tails users were still using a 32-bit computer.
These statistics are gathered from bug reports we have received from WhisperBack.
Of course, some of these computers will keep working for a while. But once the number had fallen this low, the benefits of switching Tails to 64-bit outweighed the reasons we had to keep supporting 32-bit computers.
We had two main reasons to switch Tails to 64-bit:
We want Tails users to be safer: software built for 64-bit processors can benefit from several improvements that make it harder for attackers to exploit security vulnerabilities (improved Address space layout randomization, compulsory support for the NX bit).
We want to our project to be (more) sustainable: Tails has been using a 64-bit Linux kernel for a while on machines that support it. But all other programs included in Tails so far were built for 32-bit processors, and compatibility issues kept arising. In the last few years, the developers who maintain Tails have spent lots of time addressing such issues. We would rather see them spend their time in ways that benefit our users on the long term, and not on problems that will vanish when Tails switches to 64-bit eventually.
Thanks for your attention, and sorry for the inconvenience it may cause to you.