grub live boot menu entry
One of primary objectives of grub-live is preventing malware from gaining persistence and having an unchanged system after reboot. It would require targeted  malware which gains super user (root) access to re-mount the disk for write access.
It is also recommended to regularly boot into persistent mode for installation of updates.
As per Whonix Packages for Debian Hosts.
Table: Comparison of grub-live and Tails
|Thing||grub-live on the host  /
grub-default-live on the host
|Tails DVD only||Tails USB / DVD, with persistent USB||Tails read-only medium all other writable disks unplugged  |
|common  mode of operation||Yes||Yes||Yes||No |
|amnesic / protects against disk modifications ||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|protects against malware persistence on hard drive after malware compromise||No ||No ||No ||Yes |
|protects against firmware trojans after malware compromise||No ||No ||No ||No |
|avoid writing to any host disks||?||Yes ||Yes ||Yes |
|disables removable drives auto-mounting||No||Yes ||Yes ||Yes |
|disabled virtual machine shared folders||No ||?||?||?|
|wipe RAM on shutdown||No ||Yes but with limitations. ||Yes but with limitations. ||Yes but with limitations. |
|wipe video RAM on shutdown||No ||No ||No ||No |
|emergency shutdown on USB removal||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Live Mode Usability ||Not great. ||Good ||Good ||Good |
|Live Mode Indicator||For XFCE only. Not yet documented. ||Not needed.||Not needed.||Not needed.|
|Unified Amnesic + Anonymous User Experience||No ||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|easy standard ("everyday") upgrades ||Yes||?||?||?|
|release upgrades  possible anytime ||Yes||No ||No ||No |
|live boot by default||
|persistent boot by default||
|full disk encryption compatibility||?||No||No||No|
|encrypted persistence supported||Yes||Yes ||Yes ||Yes |
- Re-mounting the disk for write access is not yet a default feature of off-the-shelf malware. No such reports are known to us.
- Meaning, grub-live not in a virtual machine. For grub-live in a VM, see Whonix Live.
- Assuming Tails on a DVD which can only be written to once, not DVD-RW.
- Or Using Tails USB with physical, active and effective (non-circumventable by software) write protection switch enabled.
- As in a substantial user group willing and able to do this.
- This would be a prudent approach but search engines indicate that no or very few users run this configuration.
- excluding malware compromise
- Once targeted malware got active it can circumvent read-only settings, mount harddrive, add malware which gets active after next boot.
Tails takes care not to use any filesystem that might exist on the host machine hard drive, unless explicitly told to do so by the user. The Debian Live persistence feature is disabled by passing
nopersistenceover the kernel command line to live-boot.
Removable drives auto-mounting is disabled in Tails 0.7 and newer.
https://git-tails.immerda.ch/tails/plain/config/chroot_local-includes/etc/dconf/db/local.d/00_Tails_defaults contains config for GNOME only, which is OK in context of Tails since Tails' default desktop is GNOME and others are unsupported.
- Considered a feature or bug?
It might be possible to create a separate package
amnesiacould depend on both,
wiperam, to simplify live boot for users.
- The user being aware of currently running in live mode vs persistent mode.
- Without Live Mode Indicator (see below) it is not obvious to the user if the user booted into persistent or live mode. The user could easily make a mistake by not choosing live boot at grub boot menu and confuse having booted into live mode while the user actually booted into persistent mode.
- Always good because amnesia always has been a core feature of Tails. It is always obvious to the user that everything is non-persistent except folders for which the user enabled selective persistence.
- Whonix ™ is primarily run inside virtualizers. grub-live is an extra configuration step on the user's host.
- Using standard package managers such as
- Such as from Debian stretch to Debian buster.
- Release upgrade of Tails from lets say Debian stretch to Debian buster is a non-trivial development effort. See also: https://tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/upgrade/index.en.html
- Persistent boot is the default option in grub boot menu
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