September, 2012 has been pretty busy for Tails. Here is a report of what happened.

Releases

Tails 0.13 was released on September 18th. See the announcement for more details.

The release came out one week late compared to the initial schedule. This is due to an unexpected late arrival of the updated Iceweasel ESR backported packages.

The next release, labeled 0.14, should be released by the end of October. A first release candidate should be available for testing on the 9th.

People

Tails has been started and successfully connected to the Tor network around 71.000 times in September. That makes a boot every 36 seconds on average. This number is an approximation from the requests made for the security announcements feed. The later is retrieved by Tails after being connected to Tor to eventually encourage users to update.

47 reports were received through WhisperBack.

The forum activity went pretty crazy with 1038 new messages, 156 of them signed by "Tails". Not the highest signal/noise ratio in history, though.

Code

A fix was merged for the ?slow browsing experience of the documentation available inside Tails systems.

Some progress was made on the front of ?supporting multiple kernels, that should lead a future version of Tails to use multiple cores and more than 3GB of memory eventually, as well as fixing most of the dreaded "not all memory is wiped at shutdown" bug.

A first attempt to tackle ?persistent connections in Network Manager is available for reviews.

'Old style' ?PC speaker is now disabled to prevent loud, unexpected beeps.

The Unsafe Web browser now disables all Iceweasel extensions.

The ?firewall is now configured using ferm.

The build process is now more likely to fail instead of letting errors slip when hooks fail.

Tails (devel Git branch) is now ?using Tor 0.2.3.

One of the new feature of Tor 0.2.3 is network stream isolation. Subsequent ?anonymity enhancements have been implemented and will be available in Tails 0.14.

The ?readahead breakage resulting in a noticeable pause during startup has been fixed.

The Vagrant-based build system was optimized.

Some more work has been done in improving handling of init scripts.

The bug that made the ?default search engine for some languages fallback on Google has been fixed.

Some more build system optimization related to package installation.

An input method for Japanese has been added and will be in Tails 0.14.

?Programs used by default to open downloaded files were often sub-optimal. The issue is now fixed.

A bug resulting in whisperback reporting an inexistent error during the send process has been fixed.

On the OpenPGP smartcards support front, some backports were prepared and are being tested.

On-going discussions

Two contributors interested in working on Tails server showed up.

Some feedback and comments about the 'uwt' script shipped in Whonix.

Experiments on backporting Iceweasel.

What should be done with the system date when it's off any reasonable limit?

Schedule for the upcoming 0.14 release.

Block/unblock wireless devices?

Researching best way to implement persistent browser bookmarks, with some first patches from Alessandro Grassi.

Should Tails ship a "download manager"?.

Should PCMCIA / ExpressCard / Firewall be deactivated?

What should be the default web browser homepage?

Documentation and website

The documentation has received several small improvements in the following areas:

  • List what can be done when Tails does not start.
  • Better phrasing of the disclaimer about TrueCrypt.
  • Adjust TrueCrypt documentation for the current boot menu.
  • Specify what happens to the persistent volume when using the clone option of the installer.
  • Be more explicit of what should be done after installing Tails.
  • Link more appropriately the Torrent OpenPGP signature.

An important amount of (still invisible) work has been done to replace the forum with a Q&A-style (like StackOverflow) web application that would suit our needs (and possibly the Tor project's ones -- we'll see).

Translations

The French translations has received a sturdy stream of updates.

The website is currently at:

  • FR: 79% translated, 1% fuzzy
  • PT: 50% translated, 1% fuzzy
  • ES: 28% translated, 3% fuzzy
  • DE: 13% translated, 1% fuzzy

Infrastructure

The tails::whisperback::relay Puppet class was brought into working state. This allowed us to setup additional WhisperBack relays: fail-over should now ensure bug reporting is possible most of the time. See Git repository at: git://webmasters.boum.org/tails-puppet-module-tails

The server that will be dedicated to Tails development needs was delivered and plugged in the SeaCCP colocation. Many thanks to our friends at Riseup, who helped a lot through the whole process, and to the Tor project, who supports us once again by funding the server hosting! Debian Wheezy was installed.

A Redmine install was setup at Riseup Labs to allow us to evaluate it. Thanks a lot, again!

Funding

The discussions with sponsor Bravo are going well. It's likely that around 20 days of work for two developers will be funded by the end of November.