I put the TAILS ISO on a 32GB USB stick with 'dd' (Didn't have a smaller one.)

diskutil GUI says the resulting partition is one GB but df in the terminal says it is four GB. diskutil does show the free space as 32GB.

I want to make the free space into a usable (persistent) partition, but if I select format in diskutil, it appears to want to repartition the whole stick--which as I understand, would trash the boot partition.

I would also like that partition to be ExFAT or any other format that both Mac and Windows 7 can read and write.

How should I proceed?

  • how many partitions do you have in your usb?
    – Ron
    Sep 5, 2015 at 9:53
  • The easiest way to boot from USB and utilize all the available space for me is to use Easy2boot. There website explains everything you need to boot from a pen drive.Its very easy to use and upgrade to newer releases as you have to only change the .iso image.www.easy2boot.com
    – Iftekhar
    May 18, 2016 at 12:51
  • Tried sudo gdisk /dev/sdx then x then e then w? Maybe inhereting GPT from .iso, determining the size of the disk based on the GPT backup data structure located at the "end" of the available space. see: askubuntu.com/questions/594767/…
    – cacahuatl
    Dec 13, 2016 at 7:31

5 Answers 5


You must have 2 partitions in your USB so that you can install the OS in one partition and use the other one to hold your data.

The easiest way is to achieve this is to:

  1. Partition the drive (using GParted or some other tools) in 2 partitions with one (for eg: dev/sdb1) partition to hold your operating system, and another partition to hold your data.

  2. Format the partitions accordingly (ext4 for Tails and exFAT for data) using any tool of your choice (I prefer GParted)

  3. Install Tails into one partition (eg:/dev/sdb) using UNetbootin or dd

  • In other words, the instructions on the TAILS website are all wrong?
    – WGroleau
    Sep 6, 2015 at 2:02
  • This is general instructions to make rest of the disk into usable partitions. If you want encrypted persistent partitions, you can follow Tails instructions. In any case I guess you'll have to do some steps before you write the ISO file.
    – Ron
    Sep 6, 2015 at 4:14
  • I'll look up "UNetbootin" Problem with 'dd' is that it shrinks the partition to the exact size of the image, and tools that are supposed to be able to regain the free space don't work.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:03
  • 1
    I think this answer is rather nonsense (for tails 4 at least): The first partition is EFI and it has to be vfat, while the second partition is LUKS-encrypted (definitely not ext4), and finally /dev/sdb is not a partition.
    – U. Windl
    Mar 9, 2020 at 20:52

Easy way I found to get things working was create a Tails OS DVD. Boot from DVD, plug in 32gig flash drive. Use program in tails to clone/install tails onto flash drive. Boot from flash drive. Create persistence partition using persistence installer in tails once booted from flash drive. You could do this replacing the DVD with another flash drive if you have one. I felt like this method was pretty easy and fool proof. It requires no manual partitioning and is all done through programs that are built into tails os.

can't make comments yet due to rep but I'm pretty sure if you have 2 USB's you can replace the DVD with USB1 and then install onto USB2, in case you have an extra USB and don't want to waste a DVD.

  • That's what the instructions on the TAILS website said. Unfortunately, that installer had three options. Two popped up a thing saying they can only be used on a system installed a different way. The third option got an error message. And I can't use a program in TAILS to install TAILS. The other method, 'dd', changes the 32GB drive into a 3GB drive, with the other 29GB not recoverable. If I make that a separate partition before installing the 3GB, I can't make the big partition automount because /etc is not persistent.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:09
  • Oh, DVD. Guess I should read more carefully. Hate to waste a DVD, but I guess I'll try that—as soon as I get my DVD drive fixed!
    – WGroleau
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:11

Another way to go is using Yumi; Yumi will assist you in downloading and installing many USB-bootable distros of Linux, including TAILS. There are also quite a few utilities that you can install: AV/malware cleaners, partitioning tools and rescue disks.

The rest of the USB drive is available for whatever files you need to store on it.

  • That's worth a try.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 13, 2016 at 12:38
  1. Install and open tails,
  2. Partition using the Disk-utility of Tails, leaving some space for the Persistance Volume.
  3. After that operation install the Persistance volume on the remaining space.
  • Already told the person who said that a year ago that it doesn't work and why. Though I should check again; could be that the TaILS folks fixed that since then.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 9, 2016 at 13:35

Only solution that worked for me was using command prompt (admin) with following commands in order:

  1. type diskpart
  2. select your disk number (e.g. "select disk 1" or "select disk 2" without the "") of the usb you want to flash
  3. type clean

Use Etcher to flash tails to the USB.

once finished, go to disk management and create a new partition on the USB voila, 2 partitions and tails installed on one of them.

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