Today we’re releasing the first release candidate of Qubes 3.1. This release is focused on usability and hardware compatibility. As previously announced, the most notable features include:

  1. Management/pre-configuration stack. Configuration complexity is one of the major UX pain points in Qubes OS. This feature is going to make it really simple to enable even the most complex configurations with just a few clicks. In Qubes 3.1 we are providing management stack for basic VM management (like creating VMs, setting properties there, etc). In the near future we’ll enhance it to configure also templates (installation of additional software, keeping them up to date, modifying configuration files, etc).

    The 3.1 installer already uses this new mechanism for:

    • Basic VMs creation (sys-net, sys-firewall, personal, vault, etc)
    • Whonix setup (both workstation and gateway, with all required settings)
    • USB VM, including handling of USB mouse

    We are going to write a separate, much more detailed blog post about this major feature.

  2. UEFI support: the same installation image can be started in UEFI or legacy mode. Depending on the mode in which the installer is running - the same mode will be used for the installed system. This reduces the requirements to run Qubes (legacy boot), lowering the barrier of entry to use Qubes.

  3. A bunch of updates for improving hardware support further: Xen 4.6, updated X server drivers, kernel 4.1. Having those updates makes is possible to run Qubes smoothly on the Intel 5th gen CPUs (Broadwell).

  4. PV Grub2 to ease custom kernel installation in VMs, and especially in NetVMs. This makes it now easy to install a kernel for a VM from an upstream repository (e.g. from Fedora or Debian), or even a manually compiled one. This also includes kernel modules - for example from rpmfusion repository. While the PV Grub(2) was supported by Xen for years, we were postponing its adoption because of our plans to implement the so called Untrusted Storage Domain. However, given the disappointing state of trusted boot technologies on x86 platforms, we have recently decided to give up on this idea for the foreseeable future.

  5. Default Fedora template updated to Fedora 23.

Read the release notes for more details, installation and update instructions. The installation image can be downloaded from here. A word of caution: we haven’t tested the upgrade path yet, so make sure to do a backup first.

Also today we’ve made available Fedora 23 template to download for Qubes 3.0. You can either update your existing Fedora 21 template straight to Fedora 23, or install a fresh one as usual:

qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-fedora-23

In the coming days we’ll make available a live edition of Qubes 3.1-rc1 as well.

Also, today we are pleased to announce the official Qubes blog which is located in our a newly redesigned website. This blog will be the place for announcements, releases and interesting things about Qubes OS.