A Debian-based live OS that you can start on almost any computer to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship.


Our rating: 

Get It: Linux
License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free Anonymous Surfing Services

Pros & Cons:

Highly secure sandbox-like environment, no local traces, everything is tunneled through Tor.
Changes are not saved automatically, a blank CD-R/DVD or a thumb drive is required.

Our Review:

Tails, also known as The Amnesic Incognito Live System, is a hardened Debian-based (Linux) Live distribution based on Tor. It can be downloaded as an ISO file and then burned to a CD, USB, DVD, SD Card, pretty much anything that's bootable. Then you can simply boot into the OS. Tails copies everything to RAM without installing any of it to the disk (although there is an option to install to a disk if you really want to). Featuring the latest Linux drivers, the OS comes with wide hardware compatibility and is regularly updated. It will automatically configure your internet connection using your system's Ethernet or WLAN interface. Vidalia is bundled with the OS, which forces all connections to go through the Tor network. Absolutely no data is stored when using the Live distro unless you explicitly configure it to do so. However, data may be stored on a Live USB setup if you like.

The Gnome GUI is very clean and intuitive, as well as easy to use. It is similar to the popular Debian-based Ubuntu distribution. You get some essential software such as an instant messaging client (Pidgin), a secure browser with Tor button (Iceweasel) and an e-mail client (Claws)..

Lots of other software packages are also included to help you work productively, such as OpenOffice.org. Lots of network devices are supported out-of-the-box but if you require support, visit their forum here.You do not need a speedy machine in order to use the Live OS as 1GB of RAM or greater is recommended. One can't complain too much anyway, given the nice pricetag. :)

Here are some of my personal ratings and a few technical points regarding the program:

  • Speed Rating: Medium
  • Anonymity Rating: High
  • Usage Allowance: Unlimited
  • Logging Level: Unknown. It varies from peer to peer. Some may log you and some may not. Review this page for more info about entry and exit nodes.
  • Server Location(s): Worldwide
  • WOT Rating: Good

Tails was reviewed by on based on version 12.1.