When it comes to privacy protection, you can’t beat Linux. And for those who want the ultimate in privacy and security, two Linux distributions lead the way: Tails and Linux Kodachi. Both distributions are self-contained, portable and use the latest technologies to allow you to remain anonymous online without leaving any trace of your activity when you’re done.
But what are the differences? And which ultra-private Linux distribution is right for you? We’re going to answer these questions by looking at the general goals of these two specialized Linux distributions, how they are similar, and what makes them different.
How Tails and Linux Kodachi Protect Your Privacy
Kodachi and Tails (an acronym for “The Amnesic Incognito Live System”) have quite a few things in common. Both come in the form of a bootable live image that you can run on almost any computer without having to install it on the host system.
Both distributions also use the same basic tools and concepts to achieve the general goal of extreme privacy. Many of the most important options are automatically configured and enabled when the operating system boots, so you can get online and get to work quickly and easily.
Here’s what to expect from both distributions when you boot up the system.
Standalone live system
Both distributions are fully featured live systems that boot from a USB drive without storing any information on the host computer. When the system loads, you will find many of the most commonly used applications available and ready to use.
When you turn off the computer and remove the USB stick, there is no trace of your activity on the machine.
Secure and encrypted network connections
With both Tails and Kodachi, you can take advantage of Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections and the Tor network. The operating systems also block all incoming and outgoing network traffic that is not routed over an encrypted connection.
Both systems include Tor Browser, which allows you to browse the open web anonymously and access the deep web using .onion addresses that normal browsers cannot see.
You’ll find common “insecure” web browsers, an email client, an instant messaging app, the OnionShare file-sharing app, and more.
Office & Utilities
Both distributions come with the full LibreOffice suite of programs installed and other commonly used apps like GIMP, Simple Scan, Inkscape, a calculator, a text editor, and others.
How are Linux Kodachi and Tails different?
You can think of Kodachi and Tails as two different routes that eventually lead to the same place. One route is more picturesque and perhaps for the casual driver who wants a more relaxed and luxurious journey. The other route is a straight highway shot for the driver who knows where he is going and wants to get there as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The goal is the same, but the two experiences will be very different. Neither route is inherently better than the other. The right way to go depends entirely on the driver’s preference.
Kodachi and Tails: Desktop Comparison
As you can see, with the standard desktops side by side, there is a distinct difference in the look of the two super-secure distributions.
Tails, on the left, implements a simple and stripped-down, yet functional and easy-to-use GNOME desktop. Kodachi, on the right, has a much nicer and highly customized, but potentially confusing XFCE desktop.
Installing Tails vs Kodachi. to install
Oddly enough, if you look at the installation documentation for both distributions, Tails seems more complicated and Kodachi seems very simple.
In reality, the opposite is true. Tails contains a lot of details that you may not need, but the developers want to make sure you do everything right. Kodachi only lists a few steps, but obscures things that may be useful to new users.
You can boot both distributions from a USB drive. Both also work fine and leave no traces if you run them from the USB drive you create.
You can also install both systems on a storage drive to store settings such as bookmarks, passwords, and network preferences. However, there is a notable difference in the installation process of the two distributions.
Install Tails on a USB stick
You can create a bootable drive for Tails the same way you would create a bootable USB for any Linux distro. You must use a third-party program, such as Etcher, to write the disk image to a USB drive.
The live view is ready to use and offers full functionality without further intervention from you. You can start it up, use it and shut it down without leaving any trace on the host computer.
However, the downside of using Tails in this way is that you can’t save any data. Bookmarks, passwords, crypto keys, documents and anything else you create will disappear when the system is shut down.
After you load the Tails live system, you will find an option in the menu to create a permanent volume. This option allows you to use any free space on your USB stick to create an encrypted partition where the system can store the data.
With the encrypted volume turned on, you have a complete Tails system where you can store any documents, bookmarks, or any other kind of file you need. No further configuration is required. The permanent storage allows you to install additional software that you may need or want.
If someone happens to get their hands on your Tails USB, they won’t be able to read anything stored on the encrypted volume without your password.
Whatever you decide to save will be exclusively on your Tails USB drive. Nothing is ever written to any other storage device on the host computer.
To download: tails
Install Linux Kodachi to a USB or Hard Drive
Kodachi can also be set up as a live bootable USB drive that works right out of the box. Like Tails, you can use the system in its original state, but you cannot save any data. You must install Kodachi on a different USB drive or the host computer’s hard drive if you want to save files.
The downside to this is that you need another physical drive, be it a USB stick or a hard drive on the host computer. You can’t just enable storage on the bootable USB where you saved the live image, like you can with Tails.
You need to run the installer from the live system desktop. It’s also up to you to make sure you choose to encrypt your drive when installing.
Once installed, Kodachi gives you a lot more options in both security configuration and software choices than Tails – going so far as to include a self-destruct mechanism.
However, with the additional options comes a greater chance of making mistakes and unknowingly creating security holes in the system.
Where Tails more or less sticks to the basic software needs, Kodachi includes many extras such as several alternative browsers, as well as security and network monitoring software. While it’s always good to have more choices, there’s probably quite a bit of software included with Kodachi that the average user will never use.
To download: Linux Kodachi
Which Ultra Privacy Linux Distro Is Right For You?
Tails is probably better suited to the user who has something specific to do online and really needs extra security. This distro is made to be extremely secure and very easy to use at the same time. Anyone who can use a normal Windows or Linux computer should be able to use Tails without any problems. Just plug in the USB, boot from it and you’re good to go.
Kodachi, on the other hand, will offer much more for users interested in security auditing and penetration testing scenarios. The user interface is more impressive, but also more complicated.
To understand all the configuration options, there is a bit of a learning curve. However, it is possible to load it quickly and use a web browser safely without doing anything manually. So nothing prevents new or inexperienced users from using it to get online with more privacy protection.
As we said before, both Tails and Kodachi take you to the same place. The differences are in how you get there.