Monday, February 06, 2012

Qubes Beta 3!

A new ISO with the just released Qubes Beta 3 is now available for download here.

Beta 3 fixes lots of annoying problems discovered in Beta 2 and earlier releases, and also implements a bunch of useful feature:

This includes the qvm-block tool and infrastructure for easy attachment of block devices to any AppVM, no matter which system VM is handling the actual USB controller. So, this allows to have untrusted USB domain(s), almost seamlessly integrated in the desktop system. One can consider to use it in order to prevent various USB attacks. The next release (the 1.0) will bring this feature to the Qubes GUI manager as well, making it easy to use for non-command-line users too.

Also, we have now introduced fully automatic Qubes build system, that allows to build all the Qubes packages, and also create the installation ISO, with just one command. More information on this system and on how to use it can be found in the wiki.

We have also updated to Fedora 15-based template as a default. Unfortunately F16-based template would require too much work to get all the Gnome 3 stuff working correctly. (The challenge here, is that we don't run a normal Windows and Desktop manager in every domain, in order to make the VMs light weight, and so we need to sometimes work around various problems this causes...).

Finally, we have added two new Qubes-specific applications:
  • A plugin for Thunderbird (it is automatically installed in the template), that allows for one click opening of attachments in Disposable VMs, as well as one-click saving of the attachment to select VM.
  • And something we call “split GPG”, that I will describe in a separate article later.
Those Qubes-specific applications are based on our Qubes RPC, introduced in Beta 2.

This is likely the last release before the “final 1.0”, that is scheduled to follow soon (TM). The only major work for 1.0 is GUI manager improvements to expose most of the Qubes functionality via clickable GUI, and command line tools cleanup and documentation. Plus testing and bugfixing :)

And then, the next thing we will be working on will be support for HVM domains, e.g. Windows. This work is starting actually just about now, but code will be released only after Qubes 1.0.