[Tails-testers] [Tails-news] Celebrating 10 years of Tails!

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Author: Tails - News
To: amnesia-news
Subject: [Tails-testers] [Tails-news] Celebrating 10 years of Tails!
In 2019, we are especially proud of celebrating with you the 10 years of

The first release of Tails, back then _amnesia_, was announced in 2009. Since
then we released 98 versions of Tails, which were used more than 25 million

Here are some stories about how it all started and some vintage screenshots.
But first of all, the birthday cake!

                         | . . |
                        ´       `
                        |       |
                        |  :-)  |
                       {}       {}
                       ||       ||
                 {}  {~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~}  {}
                 ||  { ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ }  ||
           {} {         H a p p y        \} {}
           || {\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\} ||
        {            B i r t h d a y            }
        {       ! ! !   T a i ls   ! ! !        }

# 2008-2010: amnesia, T(A)ILS, and their ancestors

Today, Tails is based on Debian, Tor, and GNOME. We inherit from their work
and try to contribute back in order to create a healthy ecosystem of reliable,
secure, and usable tools.

When we started the _amnesia_ project back in 2009, other projects before us
paved the way to what is Tails today:

* [Knoppix](http://www.knoppix.org/), born in 2000 and still alive today, was the first popular live Linux distribution. Back then, it was a groundbreaking achievement to be able to start and use Linux without going through lengthy, very complex, and uncertain Linux install "parties". Knoppix was primarily designed for convenience and diagnosis.

* [Incognito](https://web.archive.org/web/20071213084719/http://www.browseanonymouslyanywhere.com/incognito/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=41), born in 2007 and based on Gentoo, pushed the concept of live operating systems a bit further by focusing on security and online anonymity. It was the first live operating system to include a full set of applications preconfigured to go through Tor (browser, email client, IRC client, etc.), offer a persistent _Home_ directory, and even allow hosting onion services.

Its original author, _Pat Double_, resigned in 2007 and _anonym_, who still
works for Tails today, took over the maintenance of _Incognito_. _Incognito_
was the first live operating system to receive an [official recognition from
the Tor Project](https://blog.torproject.org/incognito-and-tor-project-sign-

* On August 16 2009, _intrigeri_ announced the first release of _amnesia_ on the [_tor-talk_ mailing list](https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2009-August/002667.html).

* In March 2010, _Incognito_ was declared dead and _amnesia_ its "[spiritual successor](https://web.archive.org/web/20100728224716/http://www.anonymityanywhere.com:80/incognito)". Some weeks later, _amnesia_ would be renamed _T(A)ILS_, _The Amnesic Incognito Live System_, to act the fusion between _amnesia_ and _Incognito_.

We quickly realized that having parenthesis in our name looked very radical
but was quite confusing and finally settled on _Tails_ in 2011. Eight years
later, we still see most people on the Internet write it TAILS though it's
never been written in all caps on our website.

Hey people, it's Tails not TAILS!

This is how _amnesia_ 0.2 and our website looked like in 2009. The browser was
_Iceweasel_ with _Tor Button_ and the Tor controller was _TorK_.


# 2011-2014: core features, Tails 1.0, and public recognition

Until Tails 1.0 (April 2014), we would develop most of the core features that
make Tails today:

* **Tails Installer**, forked from the [Fedora Live USB Creator](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedora%5FMedia%5FWriter)
* **Persistence**
* **Tails Greeter**, our welcome screen
* **Automatic upgades**
* **MAC Spoofing**
* **MAT (Metadata Anonymization Toolkit)**, which was developed by Julien Voisin as a Google Summer of Code with our help in 2011.

To support this intense development and the increased responsibility on our
shoulders, we accepted our first grant, from the _Swedish International
Development Agency_ in 2011 and started paying for some of the development

In October 2012, Tails was started around 2 500 times a day, 10 times less
than today.

In June 2013, Edward Snowden would reveal thousands of classified documents on
the surveillance programs of the NSA. Tails got mentioned by famous
technologists [Bruce
secure-surveillance) and [Micah Lee](https://freedom.press/news/encryption-
surveillance/) as one of the tools that protect from the NSA surveillance.

In March 2014, we received our first award, the [Access Innovation Prize for
Endpoint Security](https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2014/03/11/2014-access-
innovation-prize-winners-announced-at-rightscon). According to Access Now:

> Tails embodies the successful collaboration of developers, trainers,

security professionals towards tackling the spectrum of user needs -- from
usability to security -- in high-risk environments.

The same month, we launched a [logo
contest](https://tails.boum.org/blueprint/logo/). It was heartwarming to
receive 36 very creative proposals. Here are some of the best ones:


In April 2014, Freedom of the Press Foundation launched the first crowdfunding
campaign for Tails and revealed that Tails "has been critical to all of the
main NSA journalists". Since then, [Edward
Snowden](https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/975827513321623553) and
journalists [Laura Poitras](https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/7-privacy-
tools-essential-making-citizenfour), [Glenn
making-citizenfour), and [Micah
Lee](https://theintercept.com/2014/10/28/smuggling-snowden-secrets/) have
repeatedly stated the importance of Tails for their work and supported us in
many ways.

[![Snowden plugging an SD card in a laptop with a blue Tails USB
[![Snowden showing NSA documents on Tails to Ewen
_Images from [Citizenfour](https://citizenfourfilm.com/) by Laura Poitras,
minutes 37 and 41._

A few weeks later, the release of Tails 1.0 got press coverage on [The
computer-you-ll-ever-own), [CNET](https://www.cnet.com/news/anonymous-os-
[Boing Boing](https://boingboing.net/2014/04/30/tails-snowdens-favorite-
ano.html), and many others. In December, [Der
Spiegel](https://www.spiegel.de/media/media-35535.pdf) published internal NSA
slides that categorize Tails as "catastrophic impact" and "highest priority":

[![Tor, TrueCrypt, Tails are classified as 'Use Risk: Current Highest

Priority Target Use' and 'Impact: Catastrophic \(near-total loss/lack of

insight to target communications,

This is how Tails 1.0 looked like in 2014. It had a camouflage mode that
looked like Windows XP and the Tor controller was _Vidalia_.


# 2015-2019 - Maturity, user experience, and automation

In May 2014, the UX team at [NUMA
Experience-Utilisateur-Tails-The-Amnesic-Incognito-Live-System) invited us to
organize a usability testing session of Tails with journalists. We asked
participants to do slightly complex tasks such as establishing an encrypted
conversation with someone else using _Pidgin_. Reality hit us hard when all
the journalists in the room encountered problems to either install, start, or
connect Tails to Tor. We realized that, despite having laid down most of the
core features in Tails 1.0, we still had a lot of work to do to make Tails
easy to use by most people.

Since then, we focused our work on 3 aspects of the project that don't bring
in so many new features but rather ensure its long term sustainability and
growth: user experience, continuous integration, and project sustainability.

### User experience

Since these first usability tests in 2014, we systematically relied on user-
centered design practices to ensure that all the major changes that we do in
Tails are making it easier to use. We conducted 10 sessions of usability
tests, used [paper prototypes](https://simplysecure.org/blog/formative-
testing), conducted [quantitative
surveys](https://tails.boum.org/blueprint/veracrypt/), and defined better our
audience using [personas](https://tails.boum.org/contribute/personas/).

[![Our 3 personas: Riou, Cris, and

This usability work was key in all the work that we did since 2015 to make
Tails easier to install:

* The [installation instructions](https://tails.boum.org/install/index.en.html) (2016)
* The [verification extension](https://tails.boum.org/install/download/index.en.html) (2016)
* The new [Tails Greeter](https://tails.boum.org/news/version_3.0/index.en.html#greeter) (2017)
* The shift to [USB images and Etcher](https://tails.boum.org/news/version_3.12/index.en.html#usb-images) (2019)

### Continuous integration

To cope with this rapid development and the many releases, we built a cutting
edge _continuous integration_ infrastructure:

* Images of Tails are [built automatically](https://nightly.tails.boum.org/) every time we develop a change for an upcoming release.
* These images are [tested automatically](https://tails.boum.org/contribute/release_process/test/automated_tests/) against a comprehensive list of usability and security scenarios.
* All our images are [reproducible](https://tails.boum.org/news/reproducible_Tails/index.en.html), which allows security researchers to verify that the images distributed on our website have not been modified to introduce undisclosed security vulnerabilities.

The following video shows the test suite in action. On the left, it displays
the scenario that is being tested, for example "_symmetrically encrypting a
message_". On the right, it displays Tails being manipulated automatically
according to the scenario.

This infrastructure increases the quality and reliability of our releases. It
also makes it faster to publish emergency security releases when important
vulnerabilities are fixed, for example in Firefox and Tor Browser.

### Project sustainability

The combination of these efforts both on visible improvements and behind the
scene had to go hand-in-hand with working on the sustainability of the project
as an organization.

Since 2014:

* The number of Tails users was multiplied by 2.4, increasing by 20% each year on average, reaching 25000 daily users on average in 2019. Our yearly budget was multiplied by a similar amount, to reach 240 000€ (estimated) in 2019.
* We worked on foundational documents and processes to ensure a healthy community and project, such as our [Code of Conduct](https://tails.boum.org/contribute/working_together/code_of_conduct/), [Social Contract](https://tails.boum.org/contribute/working_together/social_contract/), and [Missions and values](https://tails.boum.org/contribute/mission/).


Sustainability cannot go without enjoying working together and having fun. We
had memorable gatherings where we danced to the privacy-protecting sound of
[Rockwell -- Somebody's Watching
Me](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYIJSSZY=), [Rap News --
Whistleblower](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aiZjD0_mTA), [Pete Seeger --
The Onion Makes Us Strong
(_sic_)](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCnEAH5wCzo), [The Police -- Every
Breath You Take](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOGaugKpzs), and [Cyndi
Lauper -- Girls Just Want To Fix Bugs
(_sic_)](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A), ate delicious [vegan
from our beloved cooking team, and squashed an [anarchist coup

In 2018 and 2019:

* 66 different people contributed to our main source code, including coders, writers, and translators.
* 22 different people were paid to work on Tails: a few of them full-time, most of them part-time or as consultants.
* We attended 21 conferences in 10 different countries to stay connected with the communities of the Tails ecosystem: related Free Software projects, digital security trainers, and users.
* 20 people, both workers and volunteers, attended our yearly gatherings.

Meanwhile, we counted no less than [21
who also tried to build a live operating system for privacy and anonymity but
are now abandoned.

A big thank you to everybody who either contributed to Tails or supported us:

* All the people mentioned in this article one way or another
* The people from other related Free Software projects that Tails relies upon
* The thousands of activists, journalists, and human-rights defenders who are using Tails everyday
* The digital security trainers and technologists who got excited about Tails in its early days and continue advocating for it today
* Everybody who ever contributed to our source code, including the dozens of translators
* Our [partners, sponsors](https://tails.boum.org/partners/index.en.html), and everybody who ever donated to Tails.

Thank you!

URL: https://tails.boum.org/news/celebrating_10_years/index.en.html
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