TAILS: Getting Files and Finding a File Commander (Updated)

One of the most helpful, "sure to work" distros I carry around with me on a USB flash drive is the TAILS live operating system. I have found it to boot on laptops and computers that my Ubuntu USB flash drive failed to start up on. I'm not sure why, except that it's probably the meticulous attention TAILS developers put into ensuring compatibility with a wide range of systems.

Some obstacles I have encountered to using TAILS as my "on the go" Linux distro include the following:

  1. Keepass, rather than Keepass2, is installed on it and this means I can't access my passwords.
  2. TAILS is missing a dual-panel "file commander" GUI to facilitate file transfers. In the past, I've made an effort to download the packages for tools like Midnight Commander (MC), I have saved the deb files on the flash drive. But it's a bit of a pain. Installing from deb packages requires editing sources.list file and other mods that are a pain for a short-term bootup.
  3. Difficult to download or save files from the "Unsafe Browser" to the desktop or attached file storage.
While I realize these are features, not bugs, in TAILS due to the privacy and security aspect, it's always fun to find workarounds. Here they are:

Workaround #1 - Keepass
Since I couldn't find a workaround to getting Keepass2 working on TAILS, I decided to downgrade my kdbx file--that's the file created by Keepass2 holding all my passwords--to a kdb file readable by TAILS Keepass. Finding out how to do it involved some googling, before I finally landed on the Keepass2 to Keepass converter. The converter requires Java, and following some straightforward instructions.

Workaround #2 - File Commander
I almost kicked myself when I realized that muCommander is still available for download and the portable version (tar.gz file) works without installation after extraction, providing access to a great dual-panel file commander type program. It works well and I include it on my persistent partition of my TAILS USB drive.

Image Source: Wikimedia
Workaround #3 - Downloading Files
When I find a file I like on the web, I right-click it and copy the URL. Then, I open the Terminal and type the following:
amnesia:~$ wget "http://websiteurl/filename.ext"
This works great and saves the file (whatever it is) to "amnesia's" home directory, or a persistent partition, where I can then interact with it using the built-in file manager or muCommander.

I hope these three tips are helpful to you!

Note: I wrote this blog entry while in TAILS.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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