Set up the Admin Workstation

Earlier, you should have created the admin Tails USB along with a persistence volume for it. Now, we are going to add a couple more features to the admin Tails USB to facilitate SecureDrop’s setup.

If you have not switched to and booted the admin Tails USB on your regular workstation, do so now.

Start Tails with Persistence Enabled

After you boot the admin Tails USB on your normal workstation, you should see a Welcome to Tails screen with two options. Select Yes to enable the persistent volume and enter your password, but do NOT click Login yet. Under ‘More Options,” select Yes and click Forward.

Enter an Administration password for use with this specific Tails session and click Login.


The Administration password is a one-time password. It will reset every time you shut down Tails.

After Tails finishes booting, make sure you’re connected to the Internet Network and that the Tor status onion icon is not crossed out TorStatus, consulting the icons in the upper right corner of the screen.

Download the SecureDrop repository

The rest of the SecureDrop-specific configuration is assisted by files stored in the SecureDrop Git repository. We’re going to be using this again once SecureDrop is installed, but you should download it now. To get started, open a terminal Terminal. You will use this Terminal throughout the rest of the install process.

Start by running the following commands to download the git repository.

cd ~/Persistent
git clone


Since the repository is fairly large and Tor can be slow, this may take a few minutes.

Verify the Release Tag

First, download and verify the SecureDrop Release Signing Key.

gpg --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"


It is important you type this out correctly. If you are not copy-pasting this command, we recommend you double-check you have entered it correctly before pressing enter.


If the --recv-key command fails, first double-check that Tails is connected to Tor.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re successfully connected to Tor, try re-running the --recv-key command a few times. The default GPG configuration on Tails uses a keyserver pool, which may occasionally return a malfunctioning keyserver, causing the --recv-key command to fail.

If the command is consistently failing after a few tries, it could indicate that the default GPG key servers are down or unreachable. As a workaround, another keyserver can be specified by adding the --keyserver option to the gpg --recv-key command. In our experience, the SKS HKPS keyserver pool is usually a reliable alternative, so try:

gpg --keyserver hkps:// --recv-key "2224 5C81 E3BA EB41 38B3 6061 310F 5612 00F4 AD77"

Again, this is a keyserver pool, so you may need to retry the command a couple of times before it succeeds.

When passing the full public key fingerprint to the --recv-key command, GPG will implicitly verify that the fingerprint of the key received matches the argument passed.


If GPG warns you that the fingerprint of the key received does not match the one requested do not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please email us at

Verify that the current release tag was signed with the release signing key:

cd securedrop/
git checkout 0.3.12
git tag -v 0.3.12

You should see Good signature from "SecureDrop Release Signing Key" in the output of that last command.


If you do not, signature verification has failed and you should not proceed with the installation. If this happens, please contact us at

Create the Admin Passphrase Database

We provide a KeePassX password database template to make it easier for admins and journalists to generate strong, unique passphrases and store them securely. Once you have set up Tails with persistence and have cloned the repo, you can set up your personal password database using this template.

You can find the template in tails_files/securedrop-keepassx.xml in the SecureDrop repository that you just cloned.


You will not be able to access your passwords if you forget the master password or the location of the key file used to protect the database.

To use the template:

  • Open the KeePassX program KeePassX which is already installed on Tails
  • Select File, Import from..., and KeePassX XML (*.xml)
  • Navigate to the location of securedrop-keepassx.xml, select it, and click Open
  • Set a strong master password to protect the password database (you will have to write this down/memorize it)
  • Click File and Save Database As
  • Save the database in the Persistent folder