Chasing your TAILS

So perhaps you are a dissident in Hong Kong, a Kurdish fighter in Iraq, or maybe just a freedom loving, constitutionally minded American, but what you know is you want some privacy in your web surfing and email communications.  In this article I am going to give you the basic steps to create a USB thumb drive that is bootable to the TAILS distribution of Linux. This can be a regular thumb drive or one of the new micro sized USB sticks that’s not much bigger than a postage stamp.


What is Linux first of all? Linux is simply a free version of UNIX, which was the go-to operating system for decades. In the past simply loading, configuring and operating Linux was quite daunting. Fortunately things are not only easier to configure now, but most Linux varieties have a GUI or windows/apple type graphical user interface. Tails Linux even has a mode that looks like Windows Vista/7 in the event someone is shoulder surfing you.

Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc. and operates on the TOR network to access the internet with a great deal of anonymity. Please take the time to read and learn about Tails and TOR before you start this project.  TAILS INFO

Start by downloading the newest release of Tails . Depending on bandwidth this may take a few minutes to several hours. Next you will need a windows application called Universal USB Installer available here. 

While you wait for your downloads to complete, locate a USB drive of your choice make it at least 2GB in size, more is most likely a waste as Tails in its most secure form does not allow anything to be stored on the drive!

Now install Universal USB Installer, plug your chosen thumb drive in (take note of its drive letter in Windows Explorer and run the application:


In the STEP1  pull down, click the arrow, scroll down and choose Tails .



In the step 2 box, click browse and then locate the Tails distribution you downloaded.


In the Step 3 Pull down, choose the drive letter of your USB drive.

Click create and you will receive a screen that tells you what you chose and that the drive will be formatted. Click YES to continue. In a few minutes the process will finish, now its time for a test. Make sure your PC BIOS is set to allow USB to boot ( sometimes you must also place USB as the first or primary boot device) this is done by rebooting the pc or laptop and pressing a key (usually F2 or F8) at the initial screen that flashes your PC brand on the screen. It will say something like “Press F2 to enter BIOS”.

Authors Urban Escape Kit, note Micro-USB drive (green) Loaded with TAILS for secure Comms.

Authors Urban Escape Kit, note Micro-USB drive (green) Loaded with TAILS for secure Comms.

Once the pc is set to allow USB boot, simply place your Tails thumb drive in a USB port and boot the Machine. It will take longer to boot than Windows but it IS worth the wait.  NEXT TIME: Using TAILS

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