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Wanting to play with TAILS but cannot get it to boot at all


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#1 Angoid

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 06:42 AM

I'm unable to get TAILS to boot using any USB device I own; some are, I know on the "problematic devices" list but I suspect there could also be an issue with the computer itself.
 
To answer the questions at the end of the "Troubleshooting" section:
Q1: Which version of Tails are you trying to start?
2.9.1
 
Q2: How did you verify the ISO image?
Via the Firefox browser add-on.
 
Q3: Which is the brand and model of the computer?
I'm booting three OS's on that box:
Windows 10 64-bit - via an SSD I fitted myself using a Startech PEXSAT32 add-in card to give me the extra SATA port
Windows 10 32-bit - on the original HD
Ubuntu 64-bit (16.04) - on the orignial HD
Also have 4GB RAM and it's the X3 (triple core) processor.
 
Q4: What exactly happens when trying to start? Report the complete error message that appears on the screen, if any.
System hangs during boot process.  No errors or crash messages, normal boot process resumes if USB drive is removed
 
Q5: Are you trying to start Tails on a USB stick or a DVD?
USB stick
 
Q6: If you are trying to start on a USB stick, which program did you use to install it:
The TAILS installed program via Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit
 
Q7: Have you been able to start Tails successfully on this computer before, from another USB stick or DVD, or with another version of Tails? If so, which ones?
This is the first time I have tried to use TAILS on any device, thus No.
 
Q8: Does the same USB stick or DVD start successfully on other computers?
Not tried this.
 
I've tried what I can on the troubleshooting list, but to no avail:
Expanded the box linked in "Most computers do not start on Tails by default. ... the troubleshooting section about Tails not starting at all" and followed as many instructions as possible.
 
As a result of these problems, I wondered whether I could boot using the ISO image saved to hard disk.
The ISO image is stored in /home/username/Documents/TAILS/
 
Googling about turned up articles on hoe to get this to work, such as this:
so I made the necessary modifications to my /etc/grub.d/40_custom file and ran sudo update-grub to rebuild the GRUB configuration.
 
This also did not work.  I received an error (I would post it but am not at my machine right now)
 
My GRUB is 2.02 Beta by the way.
 
As you can see, I've researched this quite a lot but unfortunately I'm no crackshot (yet!) with Linux.
 
A word about booting: I've set it up like this:
When I power up, I get a GUI offering three options: Windows 10 (64-bit), Windows 10 (32-bit), Linux.
Choose either Windows and I boot to the required OS.
Choose Linux and I go to the GRUB menu giving me the usual options.
Selecting the TAILS option (which appears at the bottom) is where it is happening.
 
Ubuntu, by the way, runs just fine.
 
Is there something I'm doing wrong or is there something else I can try?
 
Thanks!
 

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#2 Al1000

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 06:57 AM

Hi Angoid,

Are you selecting the USB in the boot menu in your computer's BIOS?

From what you say here it sounds as if you are trying to boot the USB using Grub:

Choose Linux and I go to the GRUB menu giving me the usual options.
Selecting the TAILS option (which appears at the bottom) is where it is happening.


..or was that only after trying to boot the computer by selecting the USB in the BIOS?

#3 Angoid

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 07:56 AM

Hi Al, thanks for replying so soon!

I'm not at home right now so can't try anything but to answer the questions you're asking:

 

1) I'd tried setting "Removable media" to the top of the boot order, but when I plug the USB stick in and try to boot from it, the booting process gets stuck at the BIOS screen where you have the option of going into Setup (i.e. BIOS management) or selecting the boot order.

Neither F12 or the Del key will do anything, and the machine appears hung.

Remove the USB flash drive, and the normal boot procedure resumes and brings me to the Windows bootloader screen.

 

2) When I was totally unable to get anything to work via USB, I suspected my machine might actually not be bootable via USB (however, I could be wrong) and sought alternative ideas and solutions.

It was then that I hit upon the idea of trying to boot from the ISO, stored on the hard drive in my Ubuntu partition (in the Documents folder as it happens), and that it would be possible to set up a GRUB entry to point to it.

 

But it seems to get stuck .... as soon as I can try it again I'll post the error I'm getting.

 

There seems to be a lot out there in Googleland about USB drives created using the TAILS installer not working but no definite solutions to it.


Edited by Angoid, 16 January 2017 - 07:58 AM.

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#4 Al1000

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 08:22 AM

One thing worth checking is whether the USB shows up in the HDD menu in your BIOS. "Removable media" in my computer's BIOS boot menu is for floppy disks.

Other than that, it sounds as if you're doing everything correctly. If you haven't booted this computer from USB before, it might be worth making another bootable USB to check that it will do so. Unetbootin is what I would ordinarily use.

I have used Tails before but always from a DVD/CD, so I have never used the Tails installer.

Edited by Al1000, 16 January 2017 - 08:24 AM.


#5 Angoid

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 10:08 AM

Thanks, I'll have a look and give that a go.

 

I can burn a DVD, and booting from CD / DVD does work (I can book Linux Puppy from it for example) but the reason I don't want to go down that route is that you'd have to burn a new DVD every time a new version of the OS comes out that you want to use.


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#6 NickAu

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 04:25 PM

 

Q6: If you are trying to start on a USB stick, which program did you use to install it:
The TAILS installed program via Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit

What software did you use to create the bootable USB? Eg Unetbootin.

 

 

PS

 

Are you trying to boot it in UEFI mode or Legacy?


Edited by NickAu, 16 January 2017 - 04:26 PM.


#7 Angoid

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 05:06 PM

It's Legacy boot (this computer is too old for UEFI so this is not even an option sadly).
 
NuckAU, to answer your question I used the TAILS installer, but got exactly the same results now with UNetBootin, which was as follows:
 
1) Create the bootable USB flash drive as per the wizard (I used the Unix version of UNetBootin).
2) Leaving the USB drive in the USB socket, rebooted (actually powered down and back up again)
3) Pressed F12 to get to the Boot menu in BIOS, and selected Removable.  Pressed Enter
4) It then said, "No bootable device found" and I pressed Enter anyway.
5) Normal boot procedure resumed, bringing me to the Windows 10 64-bit / Windows 10 32-bit / Linux boot menu (Windows Bootloader).
 
Thus .... no joy.

Time to Hit The Button.
 
Then I revisited the boot-from-ISO-directly approach.  These are the lines in my /etc/grub.d/40_custom file:
 
#!/bin/sh
exec tail -n +3 $0
# This file provides an easy way to add custom menu entries.  Simply type the
# menu entries you want to add after this comment.  Be careful not to change
# the 'exec tail' line above.

menuentry "TAILS Test 1" {
    set isofile="/home/angus/Documents/TAILS/tails-i386-2.9.1.iso"
    loopback loop (hd0,msdos5)$isofile
    linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz boot=live config noswap nopersistent iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset noprompt noeject
    initrd (loop)/live/initrd.img
}
menuentry "TAILS Test 2" {
    set isofile="/home/angus/Documents/TAILS/tails-i386-2.9.1.iso"
    loopback loop (hd0,msdos5)$isofile
    linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz2 boot=live config findiso=${isofile} live-media=removable apparmor=1 security=apparmor nopersistent noprompt timezone=Etc/UTC block.events_dfl_poll_msecs=1000 noautologin module=Tails
}
menuentry "TAILS Test 3" {
    set isofile="/home/angus/Documents/TAILS/tails-i386-2.9.1.iso"
    loopback loop (hd0,msdos5)$isofile
    linux (loop)/live/vmlinuz config noswap nopersistent iso-scan/filename=$isofile nomodeset noprompt noeject
    initrd (loop)/live/initrd.img
}
 
TAILS Test 1:
Get a lot of boot-time data scroll up and off the screen, and then it gets 'stuck' at:

usb 2-5:reset high-speed USB device number 2 using ehci-pci

After about a minute or so, this message repeats.  Then I get this:

/bin/sh: can't access tty; job control turned off
(initramfs) Unable to find a medium containing a live file system
modprobe: module ehci-orion not found in modules.dep

Then the "usb 2-5" line is repeated periodically, but otherwise I'm stuck.

Time to Hit The Button.

TAILS Test 2:
This gives a crash - couldn't be bothered to write down or get my camera to screenshot it, but it looks like some kind of kernel panic. The Caps Lock light on the keyboard starts flashing incessantly as well.

Time to Hit The Button.

TAILS Test 3:
Identical to test 1, but without the "boot=live" bit (based on the "unable to find a medium containing a live file system" message).
Gets only as far as this:

/bin/sh: Can't access tty; job control turned off
(initramfs)

This looks like some kind of command line, there is even a message saying to type help for a list of commands.
Which I did.
'reboot' was one of the commands, so I entered it.
It did nothing.

Good old reboot button!

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#8 NickAu

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 07:10 PM

Interesting, But you are not the only one having issues with Kali on USB, I know some people have issues with Sandisk USB sticks not being able to boot and Linux.

 

Have you tried the "dd" method?

http://docs.kali.org/downloading/kali-linux-live-usb-install



#9 Gary R

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 01:34 AM

If your OS is Windows 10, you may need to disable fast boot to boot from usb.

 

https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/21756-usb-drive-boot-windows-10-a.html
 



#10 Angoid

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 04:07 AM

Thanks NickAU, but this is not Kali .... my "main" Linux installation is Ubuntu, and I'm trying to get TAILS to work.  But it's worth trying with a different distro to see if that works at all, at least that way I'll know whether it's TAILSs itself or my own computer.  Or even try one of the supported distros in UNetBootin, worth a go even if to just "bisect" the system with a view to seeing where the problem lies.

 

Gary, I went through every BIOS option there is and there is no Fast Boot option.  That's strange, because I'm sure I've seen that before but I did at one point (not recently) do a BIOS upgrade.  Maybe the option got removed or locked down at that time.


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#11 NickAu

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 04:28 AM

Sorry my bad

 

 

NuckAU, to answer your question I used the TAILS installer, but got exactly the same results now with UNetBootin, which was as follows:

Is the USB formated to fat 32?



#12 Angoid

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 05:04 AM

Yes, FAT32.  I reformatted before beginning to be sure it was formatted to FAT32 and not corrupt in any way (although I did use "Quick format").


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#13 Gary R

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 06:54 AM

Fastboot does not necessarily have to be disabled in UEFI/BIOS settings .... https://lifehacker.com/enable-this-setting-to-make-windows-10-boot-up-faster-1743697169 .... it can be done from within System Settings on W8, W8.1, and W10.

 

The article linked to above shows how to enable it, but of course the disable process is just a reverse of it.

 

Not saying it will necessarily have any affect, but I know that some distros are not able to boot if fastboot is enabled (or at least they weren't on my machine) and that they can if fastboot is disabled.


Edited by Gary R, 17 January 2017 - 06:57 AM.


#14 Angoid

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 09:42 AM

Ah!!  Thanks!!! That'll where I saw it then!  I'll need to do this twice potentially: once for the Windows 10 64-bit (which is on SSD) and again for the 32-bit version (which is on the HD, same HD as Ubuntu).

I seem to remember playing with this setting before to check boot-up times as it seemed very slow to get to the Windows bootloader from power-on (I timed it and it took around 2 minutes) but once it got there, it was always fast.

 

Will try and post back my findings (am not at home now).


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#15 Angoid

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 05:41 PM

OK, didn't get anywhere near the amount of time I wanted at this tonight, so could only try a few simple things ... all in vain, of course.

 

1) Fast boot was enabled in both Windows environments, so I turned it off in both.

2) Tried the "TAILS 1 test" as outlined above - with the same results as before

3) Tried using the USB Flash drive installation I created using UnetBootin - same results as before

4) Tried copying the ISO file using the dd command thus (to a different USB stick):

dd bs=4M if=<name of ISO file> of=/dev/sdc1

and booting from that ... again, no cigar.

 

So I need to build a USB installation using one of the supported distros in UnetBootin and see what that does ... a project for another evening now though.


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