When using tails linux, I am having difficult configuring persistent storage. I run a VMWare VM, and boot off the tails iso, and I have a vmdk configured as attached to the machine. The vmdk volume is formatted ext3 and lives at /dev/sda5p1. I'd like to use it to store things like public keys and email addresses so that I don't have to go pull them down every time I fire up the machine again. However, I cannot update the fstab on the iso, and when I go to Applications > System Tools > Configure Persistent Storage, the app complains that I don't have any usb media attached. The vmdk is scsi, of course.

Is there a way to configure tails with a persistent device? Yes, I am aware that tails is amnesiac, but I'd just like a way to store non-sensitive data so that I'm not starting up "stateless" every time.

The only workaround I've been able to think of is to have a tarball at an easily-typed/remembered url I can (cd /tmp; wget -qO - http://foo | tar xvf - ) with. That's tedious, and not quite ideal.


Tails is a Debian Linux, with Tor and several configurations and system checks to ensure your privacy.

It's designed for this goal and every piece of software is built with that in mind; if you want a persistence layer, you should do it as Tails wants you to do, as pointed by Jane.

As you want a custom install/version, you can install and configure Debian in a similar way, applying only restrictions/scripts that you want from Tails. It will be easier to archive what you want.

What most users need from tails is the network isolation, a whole system that don't leave traces and the "send everything through Tor" configurations. Map what you need and install it on Debian, borrow some configuration scripts and read how some features should work.

I strongly suggest that even running your new Debian Tails-flavoured Linux in a VM, you keep encrypting your disk with luks.


Full disclosure: I asked this question over at SO and was directed here; I am not trying to reputation-monster on purpose.

So looking over the Tails design doc, we see that:

  • error out if not running from USB
  • error out unless Tails was installed using Tails Installer (i.e. unless it's running from a GPT partition labeled Tails)
  • error out if the device Tails is running from already has a persistent volume

It would thus seem that, as the current design of Tails stands, it is not possible to use a scsi device as any kind of persistent storage. Honestly, I'm not sure what the advantage of USB over SCSI in this case is, as the user is allowed to be as braindead as they like with their volumes and persistent data, but that is the way Tails is, and the decision is out of my hands. :(

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