The popular Linux distribution, Tails OS, carries the following slogan on its website “privacy for anyone anywhere”. It seems, though, following some of the latest news from the project, this slogan isn’t exactly true. Beginning with Tails 3.0, users will need a 64-bit processor powering their computer.
In a statement put out by the Tails team, it said:
“We have waited for years until we felt it was the right time to do this switch. Still, this was a hard decision for us to make.”
The decision was prompted by three different reasons, the first of which was the declining usage of the 32-bit version of Tails. In Q2 of 2014, Tails 32-bit had a 15% user base, by the third quarter of 2016 this figure had dropped to just 7%.
The second reason given for the switch pertains to security. By dropping support for the 32-bit release, the Tails maintainers can utilise software that was designed for 64-bit processors to better mitigate against attacks. Some of the listed improvements include address space layout randomization and support for the NX bit.
The last argument made for ending 32-bit support regards the ease of project maintenance. In its statement it said:
“Tails has been using a 64-bit Linux kernel for a while on machines that support it. But all other programs included in Tails so far were built for 32-bit processors, and compatibility issues kept arising. In the last few years, the developers who maintain Tails have spent lots of time addressing such issues. We would rather see them spend their time in ways that benefit our users [in] the long term, and not on problems that will vanish when Tails switches to 64-bit eventually.”
The switch is due to take place with the release of Tails 3.0, which is expected to be made available for public consumption on June 13, 2017. In order to check whether your computer will be able to run Tails after this point simply boot your computer up into Tails, open the Terminal app and type ‘uname -a’ if you see x86_64 anywhere in the string that’s printed out it means that your machine is 64-bit compatible.