As I'm digging in and learning more, I occasionally come across references to programs based on anonymity. Software like I2P and TOR and full-out operating systems like TAILS and Whonix. These names tend to pop up in popular media and literature that I read, sometimes with a nod to the necessary and sometimes with allusions to less than savory topics.
My problem in research has been that most of what I find beyond Wikipedia is someone using these names as catch-phrases in a scandalous exposé about some nefarious scheme or another, and usually doled out with more than a healthy dose of creative-license in reference to the use of these tools. When everyone treats these tool names as simple buzzwords it makes pretty hard to find out any practical information about them.
I can guess at some uses, such as journalists and whistle-blowers, dissidents living under repressive regimes, etc. But what about for more practical purposes - research, experimentation, and education?
It seems sort of antithetic to ask people wishing to be anonymous to publicly post their opinions, but I don't know how else to actually get some authentic input without the hyperbole and sensationalism of media trash. Has anyone used any of these? Is really just a stroll down a bunch of dark alleys? Is there any merit to experimenting with these if I'm not looking for illegal sales or pedobear material?
I am genuinely curious, as I have recently begun trying to delve in to all sorts of (safe & legal) areas of computing that I somehow ignored during the last 10 years or so of online gaming. Anonymity projects and deep web searching are definitely two things I've run into over the years, but had nothing to do with gaming, so they only received a cursory glance. Now that I'm genuinely interested, it seems the Silk Road (dead and gone for three whole years now) was the heart of the Deep Web and the the only thing worth talking about. Nobody else seems to have anything to say except how spooky or evil the dark web is, blah, blah, blah.
Since two of the popular operating systems are based on Debian Linux, and two of the most popular programs are suggested for use on Linux, I thought this section was an appropriate place to ask.
Also, other suggestions that I often see are to use the programs in conjunction with a hardened version of Gentoo Linux or with Kali Linux. What makes those two distro's so popular for applications such as anonymity and/or Deep Web searching?
(I think I can ask about those in the same thread and still be on topic as they seemed to be strongly correlated in a lot of material I've come across. If not, please let me know.)