Qubes OS 2.0

A Xen-based Linux distribution the provides strong security for desktop computing
Qubes OS
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Qubes OS is an open source distribution of Linux built around the Xen hypervisor, the X Window System and Linux kernel open source technologies. It is based on Fedora Linux and designed from the ground up to provide users with strong security for desktop computing.

The distribution has been engineered to run almost all Linux applications and uses all of the drivers implemented in the Linux kernel to automatically detect and configure most hardware components (new and old).

Key features include a secure bare-metal hypervisor powered by the Xen project, secure system boot, support for Windows-based and Linux-based AppVMs (Application Virtual Machines), as well as centralized updates for all AppVMs that are based on the same template.

In order to sandbox several core components and isolate certain applications from each other, Qubes OS uses virtualization technology. Therefore, the integrity of the rest of the system will not be compromised.

It is distributed as a single Live DVD ISO image, supporting only the 64-bit (x86_64) hardware platform, which can be deployed to a USB flash drive or 4GB or bigger, as well as burned onto a DVD disc. From the boot menu, users can try or install the operating system.

The installation process is text-based and allows users to set a timezone, choose the installation source, select software packages to be installed, select the installation destination, set the root password, and create users.

The default desktop environment is powered by the KDE Plasma Workspaces and Applications project, which comprises of a single taskbar located on the upper part of the screen, from where users can access the main menu, launch apps, and interact with running programs.

In conclusion, Qubes OS is a unique Fedora-based operating system that implements a "security by isolation" approach and uses lightweight virtual machines called AppVMs that are definable by users.

Reviewed by , last updated on September 26th, 2014

developed by:
Invisible Things Lab
license type:
GPL (GNU General Public License) 
ROOT \ Linux Distributions
Qubes OS
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What's New in version 2 RC2
  • After Qubes rc1 release a few months ago we have been hit by a number of problems related to unreliable VM start-ups. The most prevalent problem has been traced down to an upstream bug in systemd, which just happened to be manifesting on Qubes OS due to specific conditions imposed by our startup scripts.
  • Actually, it has not been the first time when some things related to VM bootup or initialization didn't work quite well on Qubes, a side effect of heavy optimizations and stripping down we do in order to make the VMs as light weight as possible. E.g. we don't start most of the Desktop Environment which otherwise is assumed to be running by various desktop-related applications and services. In most cases these are really NOTOURBUG kind of problems, yet we just happen to be unlucky they manifest on Qubes. We do need more help from the community with testing, debugging and patching such NOTOURBUG problems in the upstream. The more people use Qubes OS, the higher the chances such problems will be addressed much quicker. Ideally, in the future, we could partner with a Linux distro that would include Qubes AppVM as one of the test cases.
  • Speaking of different Linux distros -- we have also recently built and released an experimental (“beta”) Debian template for Qubes AppVMs, a popular request expressed by our users for quite some time. It can be readily installed with just one command, as described in the wiki. It is supposed to behave as a first class Qubes AppVM with all the Qubes signature VM integration features, such as seamless GUI virtualization, secure clipboard, secure file copy, and other integration, all working out of the box. Special thanks to our community contributors for providing most of the patches required for porting of our agents and other scripts to Debian. This template is currently provided via our templates-community repo, but it nevertheless has been built and signed by ITL, and is also configured to fetch updates (for Qubes tools) from our server, but we look forward for somebody from the community to take over from us the maintenance (building, testing) of the updates for this template.
  • Also in our "Templates Appstore" you can find now an experimental “minimal” fedora-based template, which might be used by more advanced users to build customized special-purpose VMs and templates.
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Qubes OS is an open source Linux-based operating system specifically designed to offers strong security for desktop co...

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