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[[!meta title="About"]]

> **amnesiac**, *noun*:<br/>
> forgetfulness; loss of long-term memory.

> **incognito**, *adjective & adverb*:<br/>
> (of a person) having one's true identity concealed.

Tails is a live system that aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity. It
helps you to use the Internet anonymously almost anywhere you go and on any
computer but leave no trace using unless you ask it explicitly.

It is a complete operating-system designed to be used from a DVD or a USB stick
independently of the computer's original operating system. It is [[Free
Software|doc/about/license]] and based on [[Debian GNU/Linux|http://www.debian.org/]].

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.

[[!toc levels=1]]

Anonymity online through Tor
============================

Tails relies on the Tor anonymity network to protect your privacy
online:

  - all software is configured to connect to the Internet through Tor
  - if an application tries to connect to the Internet directly, the
    connection is automatically blocked for security.

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of
network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential
business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic
analysis.

Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of
relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching
your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the
sites you visit from learning your physical location.

To learn more about Tor, see the official [Tor
website](https://www.torproject.org/):

- [Tor overview: Why we need
  Tor](https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en#whyweneedtor)
- [Tor overview: How does Tor
  work](https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en#thesolution)
- [Who uses Tor?](https://www.torproject.org/about/torusers.html.en)
- [Understanding and Using Tor — An Introduction for the
  Layman](https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorALaymansGuide)

To learn more about how the usage of Tor is enforced, see our [[design
document|contribute/design/Tor_enforcement]].

Use anywhere but leave no trace
===============================

Using Tails on a computer doesn't alter or depend on the operating system
installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on yours, the computer of a
friend or one at your local library. After removing your Tails DVD or USB stick
the computer can start again on its usual operating system.

Tails is configured with a special care to not use the computer's hard-disks,
even if there is some swap space on it. The only storage space used by Tails is
the RAM memory, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So
you won't leave any trace neither of the Tails system nor of what you did on
the computer. That's why we call it "amnesic".

This allows you to work on sensitive documents on any computer and protect you
from data recovery after shutdown. Of course, you can still explicitly save
some documents to another USB or external hard-disk and take them aways for
future use.

<a id="cryptography"></a>

State-of-the-art cryptographic tools
====================================

Tails also comes with a selection of tools to protect your data using strong
encryption:

  - [[Encrypt your USB sticks or external
    hard-disks|doc/encryption_and_privacy/encrypted_volumes]] using <span
    class="definition">[[!wikipedia LUKS]]</span>, the Linux standard for
    disk-encryption.

  - Automatically encrypt with HTTPS all your communications to a number of
    major websites using [HTTPS
    Everywhere](https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere), a Firefox extension
    developed by the [Electronic Frontier Foundation](https://www.eff.org).

  - Encrypt and sign your emails and documents, using the *de facto* standard
    <span class="definition">[[!wikipedia OpenPGP]]</span> either from Tails
    email client, text editor or file browser.

  - Protect your instant messaging conversations using <span
    class="definition">[[!wikipedia Off-the-Record_Messaging
    desc="OTR"]]</span>, a cryptographic tool that provides encryption,
    authentication and deniability.

  - [[Securely delete your files|doc/encryption_and_privacy/secure_deletion]]
    and clean your diskspace using [[Nautilus
    Wipe|http://wipetools.tuxfamily.org/nautilus-wipe.html]].

[[Read more about those tools in the documentation.|doc/encryption_and_privacy]]

What's next?
============

To continue discovering Tails, you can now read:

  - the [[warning page|doc/about/warning]] page to understand better the security limitations of Tails and Tor,
  - more details about the [[features and software|doc/about/features]] included in Tails,
  - our [[documentation|doc]] explaining in details how to use Tails,
  - some hints on why [[should you trust Tails|doc/about/trust]],
  - our [[design document|contribute/design]] about Tails specification, threat model and implementation.

Press and media
===============

See the [[Press and media information|press]].

Acknowledgements
================

  - Tails could not exist without [[Debian|http://www.debian.org/]], [[Debian Live|http://live.debian.net]], and [[Tor|https://www.torproject.org/]]; see our [[contribute/relationship with upstream]] document for details.
  - Tails was inspired by the [[Incognito LiveCD|http://web.archive.org/web/20090220133020/http://anonymityanywhere.com/]]. The Incognito author has declared it to be dead on March 23rd, 2010, and written that Tails "should be considered as its spiritual successor".
  - The [[Privatix Live-System|http://mandalka.name/privatix/]] an early source of inspiration, too.
  - Some ideas (in particular [[tordate|contribute/design/Time_syncing]] and
    improvements to our [[contribute/design/memory_erasure]] procedure) has
    been borrowed from [Liberté Linux](http://dee.su/liberte).
  - Portions of Tails are based on TrueCrypt, freely available at [[http://www.truecrypt.org/]].

Related projects
================

Feel free to contact us if you think that your project is missing, or
if some project is listed in the wrong category.

## Active projects

* [Liberté Linux](http://dee.su/liberte)
* [Lightweight Portable Security](http://www.spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm)

## Discontinued, abandoned or sleeping projects

* [Odebian](http://www.odebian.org/)
* [Ubuntu Privacy Remix](https://www.privacy-cd.org/)
* [The Haven Project](https://www.haven-project.org/) (dead link)
* [Privatix](http://www.mandalka.name/privatix/)
* [Polippix](http://polippix.org/)
* [ISXUbuntu](http://www.isoc-ny.org/wiki/ISXubuntu)
* [Phantomix](http://phantomix.ytternhagen.de/)
* [Anonym.OS](http://sourceforge.net/projects/anonym-os/)
* [The Incognito LiveCD](http://anonymityanywhere.com/incognito/) (dead link)
* [ParanoidLinux](http://www.paranoidlinux.org/) (dead link)
* [onionOS](http://jamon.name/files/onionOS/) (dead link)
* [ELE](http://www.northernsecurity.net/download/ele/) (dead link)
* [Estrella Roja](http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=estrellaroja)