We are pleased to present you this Tails report. This report sums up the work that was done on Tails from January to April 2012.

New releases

Two new major versions of Tails were released.

The main changes featured by Tails 0.10, released on January 4th, are: remove potential information leakage by forcing explicit proxying through Tor; new GnuPG encryption applet to replace flawed FireGPG; new Iceweasel 9 version with HTML5 support; Iceweasel privacy improvements; new Tor version; better hardware support through new Linux kernel and X.Org versions, better internationalization.

In Tails 0.11, released on April 26th, brought in: a new Tails Greeter login screen with easy access to new options; new Tails USB installer; optional configurable encrypted persistence; Traverso and GNOME keyring; better internationalization including BiDi support; better hardware support thanks to a new Linux kernel; new versions of Iceweasel and Vidalia.

Documentation

We thoroughly documented the new features brought by Tails 0.11. We also upgraded of some outdated bits inherited from Incognito's documentation.

Internationalization

We setup the tails-l10n mailing list, that was of great use to coordinate documentation writers, developers and translators during the 0.11 release cycle. Translators are more than welcome!

GSoC

After seeing Max write a non-neglictible part of ?TailsGreeter last year, Tails is participating in the Google Summer of Code once again: Julien Voisin, who implemented the Metadata Anonymizing Toolkit last year, will work on the Tails server project. We warmly welcome him into the Tails and Tor development communities, and we would like to thank everyone who made this happen!

Miscellaneous

One of us has become a Debian Developer and, among other things, has been taking care some Perl modules are properly packaged so that we can migrate a few of our custom applications to GTK3 once Tails builds upon Wheezy.

In January, we have replied to Jacob Appelbaum about the many suggestions he sent us. See the tails-dev mailing list archives for details.

And now?

Future releases

Tails 0.12 is likely to be ready for early summer. We are working on using the potential of Tails Greeter to let the user easily enable more options, such as Windows camouflage. Fully disabling JavaScript, Bridge mode and MAC address randomization are other candidates that might require some more time to get fully ready. Free WiFi hotspots support and local firewall hardening are not far from being releasable either.

As a glimpse at our roadmap shows, we are getting close to the Tails 1.0 release, which might be out before the end of the year.

Re-scaling our infrastructure

Most of our current infrastructure has slowly grown from what was initially setup back in the early days of a project called amnesia. Since then, well, many things happened. It's almost a miracle that our infrastructure has scaled this well until now. But the limits of the old design are becoming apparent in various places. Most of the needs were thought through already, some of the future plans are crystal clear, what is now needed is to spend serious time on it, implement designed bits and design others for the next few years:

  • ?Manage an APT repository for Tails: this blocks the Git split, the move to Icedove, and possibly ?distribute source.
  • ?Split the main Tails Git repository: our current Git repository is too big, and mixes stuff that hardly belongs together. Post-0.11 will be a great time to rewrite history, as we won't have that many unmerged development branches.
  • ?Improve the web forum: moving to a better web forum will get us a less cluttered Git history, better user experience, and hopefully even better community dynamics.
  • Automated builds and tests: this will become huge, but should start small.
  • ?Make WhisperBack SMTP relay more reliable: bring some more hardware up and running, refactor the Puppet recipes into a dedicated module.
  • document and clarify how our infrastructure works: some parts are very well documented, some are not at all. It should become easier to share infrastructure maintenance work.
  • miscellaneous other stuff:
    • ?Locking down the Tails website
    • ?Better web interface for website translation

Connecting back to our immediate surroundings

Many, among the software projects that are Tails upstream, are currently preparing new stable releases. Time is getting tight to make sure their upcoming releases fits Tails needs.

  • ?Get ready for live-build 3.x: Tails relies on Debian Live. Heavily. Tails 0.11 will ship live-boot and live-config 3.x, but we're still using live-build 2.x. We need to convert our configuration tree to the (deeply incompatible) live-build 3.x format. There is no turning back. All unmerged branches shall be converted, if possible at the same time. Just like the Git split, I think post-0.11 is a great time to do so... and, along the way, fix any bug in live-build 3.x we find.
  • Debian Wheezy: Tails relies on Debian. Heavily. Debian Wheezy is supposed to be frozen in June. We need to check what, in the current state of Debian Wheezy, is not fit for Tails, and fix it or have it fixed. Next step: to build Wheezy test images.
  • ?AppArmor: some of us have started to work on getting Debian Wheezy some AppArmor support. If the Wheezy freeze is not postponed, June is the deadline to get such things into Debian.
  • Tor 0.2.3.x: we need to make sure the next major Tor stable release will be great for Tails, with a focus on the separate streams features. Next steps: everyone of us, let's run Tor 0.2.3.x and use the separate streams feature. Put it into Tails experimental.
  • Vidalia 0.4 is supposed to be released as stable in the next few months. We need to make sure it will be great for Tails, with a focus on the areas it's lacking for us (bridges support) and where we patch it (see our patches). It would be great if we could ship Vidalia 0.4 without any custom patch, wouldn't it? Next steps:
    • run Vidalia 0.3.x from Debian experimental
    • test the branch that implements Tor#2905
    • look at our patches, and see what we could drop, have merged, or implement as a plugin

Upcoming features

We will implement partial upgrades in May. Upgrade packs will provide only what has changed between two releases (deltas) and a way to apply those changes to the currently running Tails (taking effect after reboot).

We have acknowledged a while ago Claws Mail usability shortcomings, especially when using slow connections; we ?settled on Icedove (also known as Thunderbird outside Debian) to replace it a while ago; we implemented a few necessary improvements (git://labs.riseup.net/tails_icedove.git); some more tweaks are needed though, and this is blocked by the lack of a proper Tails ?APT repository.

Tails will soon ship an ?"unsafe", non-torified browser, that will be useful to connect to networks that require registration, such as Wi-Fi hotspots.