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Qubes ~ An Open source OS Designed to Provide Strong Security

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 lets the user define many security domains implemented aslightweight 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.

Qubes OS is available for Download Here.

Minimum Requirments:

  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64-bit Intel or AMD processor (x86_64 aka x64 aka AMD64)
  • Intel GPU strongly preferred (if you have Nvidia GPU, prepare for some troubleshooting; we haven't tested ATI hardware)
  • 10GB of disk (Note that it is possible to install Qubes on an external USB disk, so that you can try it without sacrificing your current system. Mind, however, that USB disks are usually SLOW!)

Additional requirements:

Intel VT-d or AMD IOMMU technology (this is needed for effective isolation of your network VMs)

If you don't meet the additional criteria, you can still install and use Qubes. It still offers significant security improvement over traditional OSes, because things such as GUI isolation, or kernel protection do not require special hardware.

Note: They don't recommend installing Qubes in a virtual machine!

Let us See how much secure it is.