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[[!meta title="Use the Tails desktop"]]

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# A basic introduction to the GNOME desktop
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[[!img Desktop_en.jpg title="Tails Desktop as of 0.6.1" align="center"]]
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**FIXME**: Upgrade the screenshot

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The graphical user interface used in Tails is called [GNOME](gnome.org) and
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shares many fundamentals with that of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and
most other modern operating systems, so if you have used any of them,
getting used to GNOME will take no time. As this document is not
intended as a complete guide for GNOME there are only a few things about
it that we will mention here to spare you some time.

First of all, in the upper left corner of the screen there is a button
with a logo in it, followed by three menus: *Applications*,
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*Places* and *System*.
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The *Applications* menu is where you will find short cuts to the
installed applications. Please explore the different categories of
applications and try out those that seem interesting.

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The *Places* menu is here to make it easy to access storage media.
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The *System* menu allows to:

* customize some aspects of the GNOME desktop (*Preferences*);
* change some important aspects of the system and hardware behavior
  (*Administration*);
* shutdown the computer.

On the right of these three menu entries, a few shortcuts allow to
launch the most frequently used applications. Passing the mouse cursor
over one of these shortcut will display the application name and its
function.

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In the upper right corner you will find a couple of icons, each of which
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offers an interface for some running application : the onion icon is
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made to control Tor using Vidalia, the two computer screens are for the
network settings using NetworkManager. They will be explained more in
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details in [[connect_to_internet_anonymously]]. Other icons help you
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keep an eye on the battery level if you
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run from a laptop, one allows to instantly change the keyboard layout,
another controls the sound level. Note that the clock icon allows to
change the current timezone to make it show the local time.

You are encouraged to check these icons out with the left and right
mouse buttons, but we will say more about some of them later on in
this article.

On the bottom of the screen is another panel: on its left, an icon
allows to minimize all open windows to show the Desktop; then come the
buttons for open windows; on the right, a set of four similar
rectangle icons gives access to four different workspaces.

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Clicking on the icon at the bottom left you will access the Desktop. A
*Computer* icon provides access to storage media; the *amnesia's Home*
is a shortcut to the default folder where most applications save files;
then comes the shortcut to this documentation, and another allows to
report a bug in Tails to its developers; to end with, the *Trash* is the
place where "deleted" files are moved.

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## <a name="nautilus"></a>Managing files with Nautilus
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Nautilus is GNOME's file manager, (S)FTP client and more and it looks like this
while in file managing mode:

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[[!img Nautilus_en.jpg title="Nautilus" align="center"]]
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To manage local files, follow links on the desktop or from *Places* menu at top
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left corner of the screen. To move files or folders, you can drag them from one
window and drop them to another.

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To connect to remote FTP or SFTP server, go to *Connect to Server...* from
*Places* menu.
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# <a name="live"></a>Your data won't be saved unless explicitely asked

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As stated in the [[about]] page, Tails is designed to leave no trace on the
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computer you're using unless you ask it explicitly. It is important
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to understand some of the consequences of that.
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Starting a computer on a media containing Tails doesn't change anything on the
operating system actually installed on your hard drive: as a live system, Tails
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doesn't need to use your hard drive during the whole session. Be your hard drive absent
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or damaged, it wouldn't prevent your computer to start Tails. Consequently,
removing the CD or USB stick containing Tails is enough to retrieve your usual
operating system.

A consequence of this amnesia is that you can't save anything on the device
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containing Tails, be it files you create or download or any configuration you
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might do. You should save anything you want to keep for later access into a
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separate device (other USB stick, other CD or any device you would choose).
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Future versions of Tails will propose a feature to save some files or
configuration, but it is still being developped.

# Type password securely on an untrusted computer

If an attacker had access to the computer you run Tails on, she might
have installed a piece of hardware that records every key which is
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pressed on the keyboard: that's a keylogger. This kind of hardware is
quite common and known to have been already used.
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To prevent against giving such a device your password or encryption
passphrase, you might want to "type" them using the mouse on a virtual
keyboard displayed on screen.
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The *[Florence](http://florence.sourceforge.net/english.html)*
virtual keyboard starts automatically with Tails and
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is accessible by the keyboard icon in the systray on the top left of the screen.
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It can be used to safely enter passwords using the mouse
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when you suspect that a hardware keylogger may be present.

# <a name="cold"></a>Protection against cold boot attacks

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Due to how modern computing works, basically everything that you have
done during a session is stored in the RAM. If an attacker has
physical access to your computer when you are running Tails, it may
enable her to recover everything that have been achieved during the
session, from typed texts to saved files, including passwords and
encryption keys.  The more recent the activity, the more likely it is
that it is still in the RAM.

Furthermore, it has been shown that the data present in the RAM might be
recoverable for seconds or even minutes after the computer is powered
off using a [cold boot
attack](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_boot_attack).

In both cases the RAM contents can be analysed in a computer forensics
laboratory which might turn into a major disaster depending on what they
find.

So, what should you do when you hear an attacker knocking at your door?
You could just remove the USB stick or CD you are running Tails from. It
will start to wipe the contents of the RAM by filling it out with random
junk, thus erasing everything that was stored there before, including
the encryption key of the encrypted storage devices you might use and
the traces of your session. Then you wait, possibly trying to buy
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valuable time by barricading your door.
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As far as the authors know, cold boot attacks are not standard
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procedure within law enforcements and similar organisations anywhere
in the world yet, but it might still be good to be prepared and stay
on the safe side.