I was wondering, what exactly are the differences between using Tor Browser in a regular Linux distribution such as Debian, versus using it in Whonix or Tails, in terms of privacy / anonymity?

If there actually are differences, would it also be recommendable to just run Whonix / Tails as a VM within a regular Linux OS?

  1. Tails and Whonix are Debian.
  2. For just browsing, from a privacy and anonymity stand point, there's no difference between Tor Browser in Tails, Tor Browser in Whonix or Tor Browser on stock Debian.
  3. Don't run Tails in a VM.
  4. Tails and Whonix are designed for different use cases and shouldn't be conflated.

By "the difference in terms of privacy / anonymity", what you really mean to say is "in terms of behavior". And there are some important differences in how they behave:

  • Tails in a VM will not have the behavior of a random MAC address for whatever network you're connected to, making it really easy to establish 'you' between sessions.
  • Using a VM at all means that any successful attacks against the host, also compromises any and all virtual machines.

TLDR; "Regular" and VMs behave very differently, don't rely on VMs for protection.

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