Here is the report of the many things that happened around Tails in August, 2012.

Tails has been started and successfully connected to the Tor network around 64.000 times in August. That makes a boot every 41 seconds on average. We know this since Tails checks if a new release is available once the network is connected each boot.

Releases

Version 0.13 is coming! We have released the first release candidate, along with a call for testing.

Unless something nasty happens, Tails 0.13 should be released on September 11th.

Tails summit

Seven mighty Tails developers gathered for a ten-day summit, including a day trip to the sea. The meeting was exhausting, inspiring and productive. We have tied up some discussions that had a year long history, made plans for the future, and worked on a few annoying bug fixes and cool hacks.

So, what happened during Tails summit? (Not in any relevant order.)

  • Had an 'About us' go-around.
  • Done a 2D barometer about 'Tails in 3 years', with some questions on the future of Tails.
  • Shared knowledge about what has been done on automated testing so far.
  • Tried to use a forked version of memtest86+ to wipe memory.
  • Started a 'wipe_memory' module for GRUB.
  • Decided to go for OSQA to replace the forum.
  • Rewrote the documentation for new translators.
  • Clarified our roadmap, at least until the 1.0 release.
  • Worked on WhisperBack 1.6, which uses an external, dedicated GnuPG keyring.
  • Finalized the hardware configuration of our future server, lizard, and discussed the basics of the sysadmin work.
  • Finalized and merged the bugfix/remove_ttdnsd_from_the_loop branch.
  • Merged the feature/wireless-regulation branch.
  • Merged the feature/precompiled-locales branch.
  • Started a feature/do-not-build-the-forum branch and got it merged.
  • Labelled a bunch of tasks and bugs as "broken windows".
  • Designed an amazing release plan.
  • Wrote documentation about "Tails does no boot" and created a "Known issues" page.
  • Pinged Jake about disabling firewire and the likes.
  • Tried to define meaningful/efficient organisation methods.
  • Created an internal private chatroom for emergencies.
  • Finished some ooold work:
    • feature/firewall_lockdown
    • feature/assymetric_gpgApplet (sic!)
  • Killed some bugs:
    • todo/hide_FoxyProxy_unreachable_proxy_message.
    • the unusable 'TailsData' volume is now hidden in Nautilus.
  • Done some initial work on todo/persistence_preset_-_NM_connections.
  • Created an internal document repository for private stuff.
  • More or less defined our target userbase.
  • Prepared a new contract proposal for sponsor Bravo.
  • Thought through our initial strategy with respect to Tor stream isolation.
  • Drafted a plan for VPN support.
  • Calculated statistics on the state of translations on the website.
  • Created a Twitter account.
  • Designed a plan for advertising test images to more people.
  • Decided to use torbrowser, and have rough plan for the next things to do.
  • Crippled a laptop due to coffee.
  • Outlined what Tails needs from a task manager application.
  • Benchmarked several task managers.
  • Handled conspiranoia about our website.
  • Clarified our position and priorities regarding Tails' network fingerprint, both on the "local" side (ISP, local router) and "remote" side (Exit node, web server).
  • Decided to accept Bitcoin donations (stay tuned!) but we still do not have the resources to accept cash or Paypal donations.
  • Tried to send a postcard to jvoisin but missed a postal address, sigh.
  • Suffered and went to the dentist and suffered again. Now pending.
  • We had a "food master challenge".
  • We generated new GnuPG keys and signatures.
  • We tried with limited success to use hardware GnuPG cards.
  • We reported bugs in Vidalia.
  • Did not upload any package to Debian.
  • Researched how to properly fix a minor bug in Vidalia's AppArmor policy. Proposed a plan to upstream AppArmor.
  • Published our Puppet modules.
  • Extracted some more package sources from our Git repository for our future APT repositories.
  • Wrote a collaboration proposal to Reporters without Borders.
  • Answered conspiranoiac forum posts.
  • Saw the years-old Metacity bug fixed in Wheezy.
  • No one got hurt.
  • Did not drink that much, thanks to antibiotics (at least for some of us).
  • We agreed on calling our sponsors 'Alpha', 'Bravo' and so on.
  • We have some preliminary fillings for the next round of the grant proposal from sponsor Charlie.
  • We refined how changes were incorporated into Tails.
  • Decided to switch to a time-based release schedule. Some details have to be sorted out, still.
  • Thought of a plan to improve the tails-greeter GUI and user experience.
  • Discussed tools used for user support, how we handle the workload, how we will.
  • Discussed how we can make paid workers and volunteers (who sometimes are the same persons, really) work together happily.
  • Clarified loooads of development processes so that we avoid the need for a project manager, and know better how to get changes into Tails. Expect us to fill the contribute section of the Tails website with that.
  • Designed "Release Managers" and "Welcome and Annoying Nitpicker" roles, and scheduled the first shifts.
  • Discussed possibly moving to the tails.is domain.
  • Have a list of people to reach for each existing language team or language requests.
  • Wrote a list of what we have done.
  • Wrote that we wrote a list of what we have done.
  • We eventually shut up and went $HOME.
  • After some serious drifts we decided not writing anything anymore on the "done during the summit" list.

Outreach and support

As we would like to get more people to test our release candidates, we decided to experiment with relaying our news on Twitter. You can follow the project at https://twitter.com/Tails_live.

We acknowledge that Twitter is inferior in terms of freedom to many other Internet protocols and tools. But the content is public and will be reserved for announcements. It feels like an acceptable trade-off to spread our information where people read it.

Again, please note this is not a channel to contact us. We also have no intents to spread on other medias that are dangerous in terms of privacy, control, centralization and censorship. If you want to contact us and hope to get a response, please use the proper communication channels:

We have received 40 reports sent using WhisperBack. Our receiving relay was regularly offline this month due to hardware issue.

The forum received 639 new messages, 73 of them signed by "Tails".

Code

The following branches that had pending reviews were merged:

  • Using precompiled locales.
  • Incremental updates.
  • Support for live-boot 3.x.
  • WhisperBack 1.6 (see details bellow).

Misc fixes and improvements that will show up in 0.13:

  • Fix the System Monitor applet by adding gnome-system-monitor.
  • Remove unused variables in htpdate.
  • Remove residual DHCP DNS settings from resolvconf.
  • Properly handle wireless per-country frequency regulation.
  • Hide the unusable 'TailsData' volume from Nautilus.
  • ttdnsd is now out of the default name resolution loop. This should fix hard to track resolution errors.
  • I2P has been updated to 0.9.1.

The ikiwiki forum is not anymore in the bundled static website. This results in an important build speed improvement.

A little more progress has been made on building Tails for the next upcoming Debian release (codename Wheezy). See wheezy branch.

Started work on including Tor 0.2.3. This is targeted at 0.14. See feature/Tor_0.2.3 branch.

There is a possible fix for the pause during the boot process that probably appeared with Tails 0.12.

Some more sorting has been made in order to retrofit our custom packages in ?our future APT repositories and ?remove them from our Git repository.

WhisperBack, our encrypted bug reporting application got a lot of improvements:

  • Load help from the config file instead of hardcoding it
  • Sanitize debugging info
  • L10n: import translations for Arabic, Czech Spanish, Euskera, French, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese and Russian
  • Improve UI especially for small screens
  • Use a dedicated GnuPG keyring

On-going discussions

Deactivate PCMCIA, ExpressCard and Firewire?

How to deal with roadmap and broken windows?

Allow to access other systems in the local network?

Disabling the 'PC speaker'?

Call for review of plans for stream isolation

Documentation and website

Pages in the 'Documentation' section now link from one page to the next inside a same section, thanks to the new trail plugin for Ikiwiki.

Update the Windows documentation to use MD5 Reborned Hasher instead of the obsolete CheckIt.

Many improvements to the guide for translators.

Clarify some steps in the release process. Document better how to release Tails custom packages.

Update the roadmap page.

Translations

Some important work was done to translate more of our website to Portuguese, 16% more of its strings got translated during this month.

We also received many patches for our custom programs in Russian, Arabic, and Farsi.

Funding

We sent a proposal to sponsor Bravo about funding developers for October and November to work on our user support channels, documentation and hardware support.