On October 7, we started our yearly donation campaign. Today, we summarize what we achieved with your help in 2019.

If you liked our work in 2019, please take a minute to donate and make Tails thrive in 2020!

Easier adoption by new users

In 2019, we focused on fewer but critical features to make Tails easier to discover and adopt for first time users.

  • In January, we completely changed the Tails installation procedure. Tails is now downloaded as a USB image: an exact copy of the data as it is written to the USB stick.

    This made the installation experience better for all operating systems and particularly easier and much faster for less tech-savvy users of Windows and macOS.

  • Then, we improved our documentation to help first time users with their Tails installation:

    • We explained better how to troubleshoot failing Wi-Fi, an issue unfortunately quite common, especially on Mac, and documented which Wi-Fi USB adapters work well in Tails.

    • We created a boot menu animation to visualize how to start Tails on PC and clarified related troubleshooting instructions.

As a consequence, more people than ever are using Tails:

  • Tails is used nearly 25 000 times every day worldwide. That's 15% more than in August 2018.

  • The percentage of people using Tails on Mac more than doubled since January 2019.

To continue making Tails more accessible to users globally, we built a translation platform for our website. Since then, people started translations in Arabic, Catalan, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Turkish.

We also improved a lot the usability of Tails Greeter for non-English users in Tails 4.0.

Maintenance work

2019 was also a year of heavy maintenance work, as always. Keeping alive a tool like Tails consists mostly of many tasks that are not very exciting: publishing new releases every 6 weeks, updating Tails and our infrastructure to new versions of Debian and other software that we use, fixing small issues as they are reported to us, and implementing the many small improvements that make Tails easier to use.

  • In October, we released Tails 4.0, which is the first version of Tails based on Debian 10 (Buster).

    Tails 4.0 was our most important release in years. Tails 4.0 adds KeePassXC, OnionShare 1.3.2, fixes Electrum, updates to Debian 10 and GNOME 3.30, starts faster and uses less memory.

  • We released 13 new versions of Tails to deliver improvements and security fixes as soon as possible.

  • We published more emergency releases than ever before: 5 emergency releases to fix 5 critical security vulnerabilities in Firefox and Tor Browser and always keep Tails as secure as possible.

  • We removed less popular software and localization packages, which you can now install yourself using the Additional Software feature. Optimizations like these made the USB image of Tails 4.0 47 MB smaller than Tails 3.6, which was the bigger release ever.

  • Tails depends on a wider ecosystem of Free Software and privacy tools. We continuously contribute improvements to other projects which are either included in Tails or used on our infrastructure. Some of these projects, that we call "upstream", are:

  • We had to temper several distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks targeting our infrastructure.

  • For 9 years, we have been relying on the hosting services provided by the fine people of boum.org. Thank you! As they were reducing their activities, we had to migrate our services. Our website is now self-hosted and our mailing-lists are taken care of by 2 experienced and trusted autonomous server projects: autistici.org and puscii.nl.

Community

Over the years, Tails has been able to gather a lively community which is growing, evolving, and deserves care.

  • We published a statement of our mission and values to help us clarify who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to do for our users.

  • We agreed on user personas, fictitious but concrete representations of the people using Tails. We use these personas to keep in mind who we are working for, what are their needs, and what Tails should do for them.

  • We attended 9 conferences and connected to Free Software and Internet freedom communities in 9 different countries, including FOSDEM (Belgium), Internet Freedom Festival (Spain), Tor Meeting (Sweden), OTF Summit (Taiwan), DebConf (Brazil), and MozFest (UK).

  • The wider Tails community organized 10 workshops to present Tails to new users in North and South America, Europe, and East and South-East Asia.

  • We answered 883 bug reports through our help desk and helped all these people to be safer online.

  • 2 new workers joined our help desk and sysadmin teams.

All of this is made possible by donations from people like you. And because these help us to plan our work, we particularly appreciate monthly and yearly donations, even the smallest ones.

If you liked our work in 2019, please take a minute to donate and make us thrive in 2020!