Tails 3.0

We have been focused on the last finishing touches before we deem Tails 3.0 ready for release. Things are looking good so far!

Reproducible builds

Here are some details about our work in April and May on making Tails reproducible. This effort is covered by the Mozilla Open Source Support award (MOSS) that we've received.

Current status

In March we reported that we had finally seen an ISO image build reproducibly on several machines. Since then we kept working on this front.

Our automatic upgrades are now reproducible, however, one remaining issue currently blocks us from claiming that our ISO images are too. We are confident that this issue will be solved within a few weeks.

Reproducible website build

In March we've made great progress to get our website build reproducibly. Later on, we realized that ikiwiki resized some images of our website which sometimes contained timestamped metadata, thus making the ISO image build unreproducibly. We have worked around this on our side (#12566), and will fix the root cause of the problem in ikiwiki upstream (#12625).

The blocker: fontconfig

The cloud which hides the blue skies and the sun in the reproducible builds solar system today, and which is our sole remaining problem to make our ISO image build reproducibly is this: we ship a cache for fonts in Tails. However, this cache is currently not generated in a reproducible manner. In March we tried moving its generation out of the ISO, however, it makes Tails start slower and resulted in too many unreliable test failures. Thus, we decided to move it back into the ISO image and to try and fix the root cause of the problem instead. We filed Debian bug #863427, but we already know that our patch is not yet enough to fix the problem, although it greatly reduces the number of differences from 75 to 5 (#12567); so we'll keep working on it.

ISO image and IUKs

Our automatic upgrades are now reproducible (#12630).

When we generate the ISO image using isohybrid, we pass it an ID. We tried setting this ID to $SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH which resulted in a reproducible, but non-hybrid, ISO. Thus, we decided to pass a fixed ID instead: #12453.

The bright future

Remaining technical issues are tracked on #12608.

We are working on documenting how to modify our release process to ensure the ISO images we publish are reproducible (#12628, #12629).

For those of our users who want to verify their own ISO builds against ours, we'll soon document how to do that (#12630).


See the Infrastructure section for our work on the infrastructural aspects of this project.

Documentation and website

  • We have published the Tails Social contract.

  • We finished updating all our documentation to Tails 3.0, based on Debian Stretch.

  • We updated our documentation to a new layout of the Universal USB Installer for Windows and scaled its screenshots to fix an issue reported by huertanix.

  • We updated our documentation of the build system, as a result of the work on reproducible builds.

User experience

  • We started experimenting with Piwik to do web analytics (#12563).

  • We continued redesigning the main window of Tails Installer.


  • We upgraded some more of our systems to Debian Stretch.

  • We have continued the efforts to optimize our systems' resources, by playing with different settings of the NUMA balancing (#11179).

  • We have adapted our CI infrastructure to be able to bring back the email notification mechanism for build and test failures, at least for branches which have tickets in a "Ready For QA" state in Redmine (#11355). This will be unleashed in June so that we'll be able to gather statistics about false positives in our CI notifications to developers.

  • Most of our efforts have been focused on upgrading our infrastructure to support reproducible builds, see below.

Reproducible builds

After a long discussion, we decided not to publish any Vagrant basebox at all: the key argument in favour of this major design change was to remove one huge binary blob from the list of trusted inputs needed for building a Tails ISO image. This will substantially increase the value of Tails ISO images building reproducibly. This decision has a few nice side effects, including:

  • the properties of the basebox required to build a given state of our code base are entirely encoded in the corresponding Git commit;
  • changes in the ISO build box definition don't require building and uploading a new basebox.

Then we made enough progress to migrate our Continuous Integration platform to the build system used by developers. This is now running in production, not exactly smoothly yet (as explained below), but well enough to keep supporting our development and quality assurance processes. For details, see #11972, #11979, #11980, #11981, #12017, and #11006.

Then we had to deal with a number of issues that we were not in a position to identify before submitting this brand new system to a real-world workload. Some are fixed already (#12530, #12578, #12565, #12541, #12529, #12575, #12606). Work is still in progress on some other problems: they are our Continuous Integration engineers' top priority, and should be fully resolved in the next couple of months.

Finally, we have set up automated tests for the reproducibility of our ISO image. Obviously, the results of these tests are publicly available.



Past events

  • gagz and geb did a presentation and a workshop of Tails at the CPML yearly meeting.

On-going discussions

  • We started to discuss the coordination of Tails 3.0 and Debian Stretch releases.

  • The news on the update of our build system received a lot of answers.


All the website

  • de: 59% (2977) strings translated, 5% strings fuzzy, 52% words translated
  • fa: 43% (2200) strings translated, 9% strings fuzzy, 47% words translated
  • fr: 87% (4357) strings translated, 1% strings fuzzy, 85% words translated
  • it: 31% (1585) strings translated, 4% strings fuzzy, 28% words translated
  • pt: 28% (1443) strings translated, 8% strings fuzzy, 25% words translated

Total original words: 52.798

Core pages of the website

  • de: 82% (1537) strings translated, 10% strings fuzzy, 82% words translated
  • fa: 37% (695) strings translated, 10% strings fuzzy, 39% words translated
  • fr: 98% (1843) strings translated, 1% strings fuzzy, 98% words translated
  • it: 78% (1473) strings translated, 11% strings fuzzy, 78% words translated
  • pt: 48% (910) strings translated, 13% strings fuzzy, 49% words translated

Total original words: 17.079


  • Tails has been started more than 694.165 times this month. This makes 22.392 boots a day on average.
  • 13.181 downloads of the OpenPGP signature of Tails ISO from our website.
  • 110 bug reports were received through WhisperBack.