Tails, the operating system Edward Snowden used to protect his identity online before he blew the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, reached version 2.0, bringing some major new improvements.
The biggest user-centric improvement in Tails 2.0 is the addition of the Gnome Shell desktop environment in its Classic Mode, which keeps the traditional Applications, Places menu, and windows list.
Under the good, Tails got a major upgrade as well. Tails has always been based on Debian, one of the more stable Linux distributions around, and Tails 2.0 was upgraded to Debian 8.0, the latest stable version of Debian.
In terms of extra security, the new version will sandbox many services so they are harder to exploit, and it will make Tor launches and memory wipes on shutdown more robust. Also, the code has been cleaned up of custom scripts.
Tails 2.0 also includes the latest version of the Tor Browser (5.5). Tor Browser 5.5 recently introduced font fingerprinting protection, but due to an oversight from the Tails team, that feature isn’t included in Tails 2.0. However, it should arrive in a future update.
In the old Tails OS, the users could make it look like Windows, but that capability doesn’t work well with Gnome Shell right now. The team said it’s working on fixing that.
The Tails team also redesigned its download and installation instructions, making it easier for more people to install Tails safely. For instance, you can now automatically verify through a special Firefox add-on if the build that you’re downloading hasn’t been tampered with by a man-in-the-middle attacker. There’s also a Tails installer package that allows users to install Tails from their own Debian or Ubuntu operating systems.
Those who have already been using Tails will have to install Tails 2.0 from scratch, as all the new changes are making it “impossible” to provide an automatic upgrade. The team encouraged everyone to install the new version as soon as possible, as it also brings numerous security fixes.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.