USB Sticks for Tails

Fri 15 November 2013 by Moritz

Ideally, you use TAILS from a read-only medium. CD is best, but many devices these days don’t have an optical drive, and handling CDs is not as convenient as a USB stick.

For quite some time, people kept recommending the TrekStor CS USB stick , one of the few sticks available in Germany with write-protection switch. Turns out they use a new firmware, and now don’t support booting from it in read-only mode. The company confirmed this via email.

There are roughly no alternatives, and I figured I’m not the only one looking for USB sticks with write protection switch. Via, a “wholesale Chinese ebay”, I contacted various Chinese suppliers, and ended up ordering two samples. Even there, the selection of sticks with write protection is very limited.

I ended up paying paying 60€ for the 2 samples because of shipping and Western Union fees.

The sticks are not very fast, but acceptable, and boot in read-only mode. They are not as slim as I hoped for, but the supplier is friendly, production and shipping was very fast. (less than 2 weeks altogether).

Logo printing is cheap ($0.15 per stick), so to try the quality I also had them print a logo on the samples.

I am still undecided whether I want the final sticks to have a logo, or simply be blank to not attract too much attention. If you have a nice idea for a logo, let me know. I want to order 100 sticks in time for Chaos Communication Congress 30C3. The production cost is $4 per stick (8GB), the final price (taxes, GEMA, shipping) will likely be around $15.



 [55679.884123] usb 2-1.2: new high-speed USB device number 5 using ehci_hcd
 [55680.051089] usb 2-1.2: New USB device found, idVendor=058f,
 [55680.051092] usb 2-1.2: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2,
 [55680.051094] usb 2-1.2: Product: Mass Storage
 [55680.051095] usb 2-1.2: Manufacturer: Generic
 [55680.051096] usb 2-1.2: SerialNumber: B6BA8F3F
 [55680.051459] scsi9 : usb-storage 2-1.2:1.0
 [55681.051827] scsi 9:0:0:0: Direct-Access     Generic  Flash Disk
  8.07 PQ: 0 ANSI: 4
  [55681.053860] sd 9:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
  [55681.055544] sd 9:0:0:0: [sdb] 15937536 512-byte logical blocks: (8.16
  GB/7.59 GiB)
  [55681.056665] sd 9:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
  [55681.056676] sd 9:0:0:0: [sdb] Mode Sense: 23 00 00 00
  [55681.057742] sd 9:0:0:0: [sdb] Write cache: disabled, read cache:
  enabled, doesn't support DPO or FUA
  [55681.176618]  sdb: sdb1
  [55681.179808] sd 9:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk

hdparm -t /dev/sdb

  Timing buffered disk reads:  54 MB in  3.07 seconds =  17.60 MB/sec

dd if=tails-i386-0.21.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

 891+1 records in
 891+1 records out
 934471680 bytes (934 MB) copied, 170.058 s, 5.5 MB/s