I have a netbook I only use when I'm away from home and I only ever use Tails on it. In order to avoid having to carry a Tails USB stick with me as well (which just sticks out the side) I'd like to install Tails as the only OS on the device.

Is there a process to fully install Tails to a computer whilst still maintaining its "amnesiac" traits?

  • How about a SATA-DOM with physical write protection switch like this vkldata.com ? Fast boot like a SSD and with amnesia like DVD. and additional its easy to update or reconfigure when writing is allowed by the wp-Switch. For that reason the security is much better than any USB-stick w.o. a write protection switch. Im missing an installer support for SSD (can be selected in menue too).
    – user16699
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 23:26

7 Answers 7


Tails comes with an installer. It installs the software by default on SD or USB drives and checks if it is installed on removable devices. So the general answer to your question is No. You can't install tails as primary OS.

Assuming you can you would loose the amnesiac traits. Because it would enable it to save data in a persistent way.


The Tails FAQ specifically answers this question:

Can I install Tails permanently onto my hard disk?

This is not possible using the recommended installation methods. Tails is designed to be a live system running from a removable media: DVD, USB stick or SD card.

This is a conscious decision as this mode of operation is better for what we want to provide to Tails users: amnesia, the fact that Tails leaves no traces on the computer after a session is closed.


You can't install it to a hard drive in the same way as other operating systems but if your netbook has an internal drive then you can copy the ISO directly to the drive in the same way as you would copy the ISO to a USB drive. This will keep the "amnesiac" traits in place as it is just acting like the internal drive is a read-only CDROM (we are essentially copying an ISO to the drive, and CDROM file systems are read-only).

Follow these directions but do it while Tails is running from a USB drive and substitute the destination as your internal drive (usually /dev/sda or /dev/hda):


In short the dd command would look like this (sdc is your USB drive, sda is the internal HDD):

dd if=/dev/sdc of=/dev/sda bs=1M

Edit: In case you're wondering if this actually works, it does! I just used this method to create a VM without using a virtual CDROM drive.


Exactly, as Jens and others mentioned above, Tails is not meant to be your primary OS for many reasons. There's another project aiming to provide exactly for your need, however it is still in beta and testing phase. Give Subgraph OS a try. Their ISO is a bit old so you'd have to do an apt-get update && apt-get upgrade and install about 600 MB updates before you start using it. Just Remember to give them feedback :)

  • Subgraph FTW! :)
    – user139336
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 17:30

If you install Tails onto bootable, removeble media (DVD=USB=SD) and you set it as your boot device (in BIOS setup) it will become your default OS by default. Since Tails prides itself on leaving no traces on the running box, you can even pull the hard drive. They have some pretty heavy duty, encrypted (FDE) external USB drives now that are made to handle alternative OS. if you configure a persistent volume on there then you can run Tails on every boot and read write files just like any other OS. I am not talking about cheap 1TB drives that you get for $50 bucks at WalMart - but I guess they would work too - at least for a while.

  • How does this answer my question? I've specifically asked about running TAILS without removable media. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 9:54
  • 1
    Well, if you are removing the HD and using your SD card as the primary boot media, then you have what you asked for. Tails as the primary OS. But, I guess you are considering the HD as the natural and only acceptable storage device, which it's not true of course. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 12:53

yes, in a way, found this on www.redit.com. Your mileage may vary.


  • 1
    That's an extremely bad way of doing that. The guy who wrote that wiki is totally unrelated to Tails and is wrong about a lot of stuff (they're banned from Tails support channels, for example)
    – cacahuatl
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:41

What you are looking for is Subgraph OS. It routes all traffic through Tor like Tails, but is meant to be installed on a hard drive. It offers sandboxing and many other security techniques to make it secure against exploits. I use this on my computers it is the best.

When you use Tails the advantages comes with the amenesic properties. Installed on a Hard Drive you lose all those benefits.

  • No, you don't lose the amnesic properties if you install it on a hard drive in the same way you don't lose them when you install it on a USB.
    – cacahuatl
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:39

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