Secured Qubes OS Initial public release

Qubes is an open source operating system designed to provide strong security for desktop computing. Qubes is based on Xen, X Window System, and Linux, and can run most Linux applications and utilize most of the Linux drivers. In the future it might also run Windows apps.

Qubes implements Security by Isolation approach. To do this, Qubes utilizes virtualization technology, to be able to isolate various programs from each other, and even sandbox many system-level components, like networking or storage subsystem, so that their compromise don’t affect the integrity of the rest of the system.

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Qubes lets the user define many security domains implemented as lightweight Virtual Machines (VMs), or “AppVMs†. E.g. user can have “personal†, “work†, “shopping†, “bank†, and “random†AppVMs and can use the applications from within those VMs just like if they were executing on the local machine, but at the same time they are well isolated from each other. Qubes supports secure copy-and-paste and file sharing between the AppVMs, of course

Key architecture features:

  • BulletBased on a secure bare-metal hypervisor (Xen)
  • BulletNetworking code sand-boxed in an unprivileged VM (using IOMMU/VT-d)
  • BulletNo networking code in the privileged domain (dom0)
  • BulletAll user applications run in “AppVMs†, lightweight VMs based on Linux
  • BulletCentralized updates of all AppVMs based on the same template
  • BulletQubes GUI virtualization presents applications like if they were running locally
  • BulletQubes GUI provides isolation between apps sharing the same desktop
  • BulletStorage drivers and backends sand-boxed in an unprivileged virtual machine(*)
  • BulletSecure system boot based on Intel TXT(*)

(*) Indicates feature that is planned for future releases, currently not implemented.