There is a ‘First for Everything‘ and I finally found an OS file system that Puppy Linux couldn’t get into. Qubes’ ‘Securely-isolated Compartments‘ were so confusing to ‘Newbie‘ me that I will not count this failure against Puppy Linux. Qubes even had areas called “Vaults” – something like “Vault: Firefox,” but I lost the pic that had exactly what they were called!?

Qubes OS was way too much for me to handle, so this is going to be a short post (maybe…).

Story starts wid the Internet

I’ve posted recently about the internet problems I have been experiencing for the past couple of months, and the problem hasn’t been fixed yet by Verizon Wireless. See: 1), 2) & 3).

Do you know how long it takes to download a 1.0 GB iso at speeds between 0 & 600 kbps? Too long! I had been eyeing Qubes OS for a couple weeks, looking for a time when my internet was fast again, but it never got fast.

Thursdays are my shopping day for groceries at Walmart. Yesterday I decided to try and download the Qubes-R4.1.0-x86_64.iso @ 5.54 GB file, starting at home here first, and continuing the download on the 20-mile trip to Walmart. Had my Verizon Jetpack and the Dell XPS13 lappy handling the download.

It took 110-minutes to get it downloaded. First 75-minutes were here at home where the speed suks. For the past 14-months, before the speed issues showed up, I was getting 20-25 Mbps, which translates to 2.5-3.125 MB/s. The speeds get better away from home, so I would pull over when I saw the ISO was downloading at around 1.5++ MB/s, and wait until the speed would slow down. Speeds at Walmart are excellent (2.5+ MB/s), but I wanted to hide the Dell XPS 13 before I got there, and someone wondered what I was doing…you know, and steal the Dell whilst I was shopping inside. I had it downloaded after 15-miles, and the trip took 35-minutes instead of the normal 20-25 minutes.

I will drop the Verizon LTE Home Internet if they don’t get it fixed within the next month or two. It’s not portable like the Jetpack. Only reason I haven’t dropped it already, is that occasionally the signal drops to Amber lights, and I get speeds of 4.5-9 MB/s on the LTE Home Router…the Jetpack doesn’t get those speeds. The LTE Home Router was over $200 18-months ago…and I have chosen to wait since the other options for high-speed Internet out here also suk.

I’m going to cut down on downloading Linux ISO’s over 3 GBs…too much trouble to download.

Based on: Fedora

Which is why I wanted to try it.

Qubes OS is a security-oriented, Fedora-based desktop Linux distribution whose main concept is “security by isolation” by using domains implemented as lightweight Xen virtual machines. It attempts to combine two contradictory goals: how to make the isolation between domains as strong as possible, mainly due to clever architecture that minimises the amount of trusted code, and how to make this isolation as seamless and easy as possible.

Yeah, sounded confusing to me right away, but you never know until you try it.

What Others are Saying

  1. “If you’re serious about security, @QubesOS is the best OS available today. It’s what I use, and free.” – Edward Snowden, whistleblower and privacy advocate
  2. “SecureDrop depends on Qubes OS for best-in-class isolation of sensitive workloads on journalist workstations. Providing journalists with a sane way to handle untrusted content from unknown sources is part of our job, and Qubes gives us the tools we need to do that job well.” – Freedom of the Press Foundation, non-profit dedicated to supporting free speech and public-interest journalism
  3. “Happy thought of the day: An attacker who merely finds a browser bug can’t listen to my microphone except when I’ve told Qubes to enable it.” – Daniel J. Bernstein, mathematician, cryptologist, and computer scientist
  4. “Qubes OS gives us greater confidence in the security of systems being used to remotely access our servers, mainly because powerful physical and logical privilege separation between workspaces allows our engineers to select appropriate degrees of isolation for different processes.” – Let’s Encrypt, non-profit, world’s largest certificate authority

What is Qubes OS?

No wonder I couldn’t find anything!?! 😒 I saw a Firefox, but it was in a “Vault” that I couldn’t find. See a “Vault” in the above pic? There are many more “Vaults” in Qubes OS.

Qubes OS is a free and open-source, security-oriented operating system for single-user desktop computing. Qubes OS leverages Xen-based virtualization to allow for the creation and management of isolated compartments called qubes.

Installation

Installation guide

Even on supported hardware, you must ensure that IOMMU-based virtualization is activated in the BIOS or UEFI. Without it, Qubes OS won’t be able to enforce isolation. For Intel-based boards, this setting is called Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (Intel VT-d) and for AMD-based boards, it is called AMD I/O Virtualization Technology (or simply AMD-Vi). This parameter should be activated in your computer’s BIOS or UEFI, alongside the standard Virtualization (Intel VT-x) and AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) extensions. This external guide made for Intel-based boards can help you figure out how to enter your BIOS or UEFI to locate and activate those settings. If those settings are not nested under the Advanced tab, you might find them under the Security tab.

Somewhere, it had warned that if Intel VT isn’t enabled that installing Qubes OS would probably ruin your memory, but I can’t find that warning now. My Intel VT was already set on two test machines – ‘Rose‘ & ‘Antec Jr.‘ – and first test was done on ‘Rose‘ in case Qubes OS was going to destroy anything. ‘Rose‘ is a great little test computer…built it for a little of nothing, so it has cheaper parts than ‘Antec Jr.‘ Installed it on both of those test computers.

The Installation guide is loaded wid pics. I lost all of mine!?! 😵‍💫

What happened to my pics?!?

Since Qubes is its own Xen-based virtualization machine and apparently runs everything else in a Virtual Machine (I think!?), instructions said not to run Qubes in a Virtual Machine, so I avoided using MS Hyper-V. No installation pics…no biggie, the Installation guide has them already.

Normally, after installing a Linux OS, I insert a 16 GB USB that is used to transfer bookmarks, wallpaper, drivers, pics, and etc. between test machine/s and my main computer, ‘Apevia‘. This time, I was so busy trying to find ‘Thangs, and grab pics of other ‘Thangs that I forgot about the USB ‘n just saved pics to Picture folder.

Later, finding the Picture folder took time…seriously! Then I inserted the USB to transfer the pics from the Picture folder…system told me I had inserted a USB, but I could not find the USB anywhere!?! 🙄

  • Some people have accused me of “hating Linux,” but is it “hate” to download a Linux iso for 110-minutes, whilst also driving 20-miles to go shopping *AND* look for better download speeds during that drive…pulling over when you see better speeds?! I think not! Is wanting to test Linux OSes like Qubes OS also “hate?” Ditto on ‘Da I think not!

No worry…I’ll put Puppy Linux on recovering those pics! Rebooted wid Puppy Linux…saw the 3-partitions of the Qubes OS 120 GB test SSD. Those pics would be in sdb3…but Puppy said it couldn’t open that partition!?!?!?!?!?! I’ve been using Puppy Linux as long or longer than any Distro, and Puppy has always been able to open any Linux partitions ‘n folders and any Windows OS. Puppy did ‘Thangs no other OS could or would do!

If Puppy couldn’t recover those pics, then it was time for me to give up on them.

Conclusion

I may give Qubes OS another try in the future, but probably not in the near future. 😉 Too advanced for ‘Newbie‘ me, and I’m certainly not needing so much security.

It was a fun test tho!

LINUX IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES – you never know what you’re gonna get!