What is Qubes OS?
Qubes OS is a free and open-source security-oriented operating system meant for single-user desktop computing.
Qubes OS leverages xen-based virtualization to allow for the creation and management of isolated virtual machines called qubes. Qubes, which are also referred to as domains or compartments, have specific :
- Purposes : with a predefined set of one or many isolated applications, for personal or professional projects, to manage the network stack, the firewall, or to fulfill other user-defined purposes.
- Natures : full-fledged or stripped-down virtual machines which are based on popular operating systems such as Fedora, Debian or Windows.
- Levels of trust : from complete to non-existent. All windows are displayed in a unified desktop environment with unforgeable colored window borders so different security levels are easily identifiable.
Qubes OS Overview Example
Why Qubes OS ?
Physical isolation is a given safeguard that the digital world lacks
Throughout their lives, individuals engage in various activities such as going to school, working, voting, taking care of their families or visiting with friends.
These activities are spatially and temporally bound : they happen in isolation of one another, in their own compartments, which often represent an essential safeguard, such as in the case of voting.
In one's digital life, the situation is quite different : each activity, often intertwined with its real-life counterpart, tends to happen on a single computing device.
Qubes OS compartmentalizes one's digital life
Surprisingly, personal computing devices are not designed to offer means to enforce the same kind of isolation that people enjoy in the physical world.
What if there were an operating system that provided a kind of digital compartmentalization almost as strong as physical isolation?
Qubes OS allows users to compartmentalize various parts of their digital lives into well-isolated compartments.
Made to support vulnerable users
Thanks to Qubes OS, vulnerable or actively targeted individuals such as journalists, political activists, whistleblowers or researchers can enjoy the same benefits of using multiple computing devices at a fraction of the cost and without the associated loss of usability.
It allows users to do everything on the same physical computer without having to worry about a single successful cyberattack taking down their entire digital life in one fell swoop.
Computing should remain an activity where mistakes can be made and where users can explore the web freely, downloading attachments and clicking on links without having to constantly evaluate a myriad of risk factors.
Qubes OS strives to bring back this experience. It creates a place where users can feel safe.
This page is just a brief introduction to what Qubes is all about, and many technical details have been omitted here for the sake of presentation.