Cannot choose sd card as target device when using tails installer. Tails assistant page mentions sd card installation, however instructions only show usb install.

  • Should work the same as usb, assuming it's detected properly and of the correct size.
    – cacahuatl
    Aug 23, 2016 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


This is ugly and not recommended.

For this example the following assumptions are made:

  1. The sd-card will be /dev/mmcblk0 and the USB installation target /dev/sdb
  2. The sd-card is larger than the usb device, if this is not the case see the note at the bottom.
  3. Both devices are large enough to hold a full Tails install (>=3.5GB).

With that said, the following steps should allow you to boot tails on a device that otherwise presents problems from the Tails installer.

  1. Follow the tails installer up to the point of creating the intermediary Tails USB.

  2. When you reach step to boot the intermediary Tails USB, use More Options on the greeter and set a password to enable root access.

  3. Proceed with installing Tails into /dev/sdb, once the installation is complete do not reboot.

  4. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disks.

  5. Select the /dev/sdb USB device and choose the cog icon at the top of the window, then select Create Disk Image..., choose where to store the image (somewhere with appropriate storage space available, if the ramdisk doesn't suffice) and click Start Creating.... Allow the process to complete.

  6. Select the /dev/mmcblk0 device in Disks choose the cog icon and select Restore Disk Image... and select the image created in the last step and click Start Restoring.... Allow the process to complete.

  7. Open up a terminal and type sudo gdisk /dev/mmcblk0 and use your root password you setup in step 2. At the new prompt (which should read Command (? for help):) type x and press return ("extra functionality (experts only)") then type e ("relocate backup data structures to the end of the disk") then type w ("write table to disk and exit") and confirm writing the changes.

    • This step is necessary in cases where the USB is a different size from the sd-card, it fixes the GPT partition sizes.
  8. From Disks, select the FAT partition named Tails on the /dev/mmcblk0 device it click the "play" () button. Go to Places > Tails (which should have appeared near the Computer option) from the top bar and navigate to the syslinux folder. Under that folder edit the live.cfg file, there will be two lines in the file starting with append initrd=... from those lines remove the live-media=removable option only and save the file then repeat the process for live64.cfg.

    • This allows the boot process to use a device not identified as a removable device as the boot device.
  9. Go back to Disks and under the /dev/mmcblk0 device select the FAT partition labeled Tails click the "stop" () button.

You should now be able to boot Tails from the sd-card, receive incremental updates and setup encrypted persistence if required.


  1. If the USB is larger than the SD card, replace step 5 and 6 with the following commands: sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=512 to copy what can be written from one device to the other then sudo sync to ensure the kernel write buffers have been cleared and written to the device.

  2. You will likely need to repeat step 8 and 9 after each upgrade since the syslinux configs will be replaced. Alternatively you can opt to remove the live-media=removable option during boot by pressing tab at the boot menu and manually deleting that one option only and pressing return.

  • Had the same Issue; Booted the intermediate Tails from a 8gb USB Stick then I used the Tails installer to copy the image on my SD card. I will test your Solution.
    – max
    Aug 11, 2017 at 5:54

My sdcard is appearing as mmcblk0 with the command lsblk, hence I run

dd if=tails-iso.iso of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=512 && sync

you can add status=progress option for recent version of dd

  • I think the issue is that "Tails Installer" doesn't recognise it as a valid installation target.
    – cacahuatl
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:03

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