link to screencast
heads is a GNU/Linux liveCD distribution aimed at people who like the aspect of controlling their privacy and anonymity on the Internet. You might have heard of Tails as a similar GNU/Linux distribution. heads was born as an answer to Tails, since Tails is using systemd as an init system and also contains non-free software.
In heads, the init of choice is not systemd. systemd is a huge piece of software that, while being free software, has not been audited for security since its creation. Being big as it is, it is hard to do so, and as time goes, it's becoming even tougher to audit systemd. We do not aim to disrespect or get into the controversy on why systemd is a bad choice. We just do not wish to use it.
Another important thing is that heads uses only free software, while Tails continues using non-free software. Non-free software can not be audited and as such cannot guarantee you security or anonymity. On the other hand, with heads you only use free software, meaning you can gain access to any source code that is included in heads, at any time. Using free software it is far easier to avoid hidden backdoors and malware that might be in non-free software. We hope this makes you a tad more aware of the importance of free software and its uses.
Let's leave Tails forever now and get a bit deeper into heads...
So, let's begin from the beginning, eh?
heads is a libre GNU/Linux distribution intended to be used as a liveCD. It respects your freedom by offering only free (libre) software.
heads uses Tor to help you be anonymous when using the Internet. In heads, all your Internet traffic is sent over Tor by default. Of course, there is an option to turn it off if you prefer. heads does not impose or force any choices to the user. It simply offers sane defaults, and it is up to the user to choose or change those defaults in the way the user prefers it...
heads uses a deblobbed and hardened Linux kernel. It does so by using a Linux kernel patched with grsecurity. Since grsecurity isn't redistributing their patch gratis anymore, heads uses forward ports of the last publicly available patch. Deblobbing of the kernel is done using scripts from linux-libre. To learn more about grsecurity, you should visit their website.
Grsecurity is a huge security enhancement to the Linux kernel that defends against a wide range of security threats through intelligent access control, memory-corruption based exploit prevention, and a host of other system hardening that generally require no configuration. It has been actively developed and maintained for the past 15 years.
It helps you protect your system against 0day attacks and other known attacks on the Linux kernel.
But in heads, the kernel security is not the only issue we've acknowledged. heads is released on a when-ready basis, except if serious vulnerabilities in the software included in heads have been found. In this case, an exception will be made and we will release an updated version of heads - before its next (un)scheduled release.
Your security online is also a big issue for us. With heads, your Internet traffic is always routed through the Tor network (unless you choose not to, of course). The Tor protocol is designed to also encrypt your traffic in such a way that you are anonymized when browsing the Internet. Web sites and services will not know where your traffic is originating from. A much better explanation on the protocol can be found on Tor's website.
By default heads offers Openbox as its graphical window manager. It is supposed to provide a familiar desktop interface that should be pretty user-friendly.
heads also offers AwesomeWM as its graphical window manager. It's relatively lightweight and quite usable. It might not be a perfect choice for the GNU/Linux layman, but for more experienced GNU/Linux users, or for users that prefer window managers over full-blown desktop environments, AwesomeWM might be a more preferable choice. Though, it's not that difficult to use. Right-click on the desktop -> Awesome -> Keybindings and you're good to go. AwesomeWM being a window manager, is keyboard-oriented, but still stays mouse friendly.