I see this message -

You can now remove the boot DVD or USB stick. The system memory is goin gto be wiped in a few seconds... Display might be corrupted during this operation. If the system does not power off automatically in a few seconds, it may mean the memory wiping has failed.

Please remove the USB flash drive and press ENTER to continue:live-boot: caching reboot files... [ 2468.592498] Starting new kernel


following the prompt I remove the Tails live USB, and press enter. Then nothing happens. I can press and hold the power button to force the computer to shutdown, but I think this would interrupt the RAM memory wipe.

So, how long should it take to wipe 16gb RAM / system memory at shutdown?

this question is a nice discussion of other approaches to memory wiping, but doesn't speak to this particular situation in Tails.

  • Going by the message, I would guess "a few seconds" – Martijn Mar 22 '14 at 17:21
  • 2
    I wouldn't worry about powering down interrupting a memory wipe. A few seconds without power will guarantee dynamic rams are wiped. – mpez0 Mar 22 '14 at 21:33

As this page explains, on shutdown Tails kexec's a new kernel that simply calls the tool for memory erasing. This approach enables the kexec'ed kernel to also delete the memory containing the old kernel, which would otherwise have been locked from exactly this. As is further explained, the erasing tool just overwrites the whole RAM with zeroes once, which should take no longer than 5 to 10 seconds.

As far as I can see, the scraping mechanism isn't designed to properly shut down your machine and what you're experiencing is intended behavior. At least I haven't ever seen a Tails installation which properly powered-off after shutdown. I don't know whether this would be possible, but I didn't take an in-depth look of the mechanism yet.

  • Ah - we distinguish between operating system shutdown and machine shutdown. Now I see. If I am only looking for operating system shutdown, then the Tails behavior makes sense. – Micah Stubbs Mar 23 '14 at 11:55

Using Tails 0.23, with 8GB RAM, it takes 15 seconds for my PC desktop to wipe memory and complete shutdown. This gives you at least a minimum ballpark figure for how long a system with 16GB should be able to shutdown.

Offhand, I would say that if your PC does not shutdown in 30 seconds, then it is time to power down via the power button, and report the details of your hardware to the tails-support@boum.org mailing list so they can track it for Tails users.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.