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Qubes OS

Last Update: 2023-03-15 14:04 UTC

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.

Popularity (hits per day): 12 months: 54 (182), 6 months: 59 (187), 3 months: 52 (226), 4 weeks: 76 (141), 1 week: 45 (203)

Average visitor rating: 9.03/10 from 29 review(s).

Qubes Summary
Distribution Qubes OS
Home Page http://qubes-os.org/
Mailing Lists https://www.mail-archive.com/qubes-users@googlegroups.com/
User Forums https://forum.qubes-os.org/
Alternative User Forums
Documentation https://www.qubes-os.org/doc/
Screenshots https://www.qubes-os.org/screenshots/DistroWatch Gallery
Screencasts https://www.qubes-os.org/video-tours/
Download Mirrors https://www.qubes-os.org/downloads/DistroWatch Torrent Archive
Bug Tracker https://github.com/QubesOS/qubes-issues/issues
Related Websites
Reviews 4.x: DistroWatchDistroWatchComputing
3.x: Linux JournalDistroWatch
Where To Buy or Try

Recent Related News and Releases
  Releases announcements with download links and checksums:
 • 2023-03-15: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.1.2
 • 2022-07-19: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.1.1
 • 2022-02-05: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.1.0
 • 2022-01-18: Development Release: Qubes OS 4.1.0 RC4
 • 2021-03-05: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.0.4
 • 2021-01-24: Development Release: Qubes OS 4.0.4 RC2
 • 2020-01-02: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.0.2
 • 2019-01-09: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.0.1
 • 2018-03-29: Distribution Release: Qubes OS 4.0
 • 2018-02-01: Development Release: Qubes OS 4.0 RC4
 • 2017-11-28: Development Release: Qubes OS 4.0 RC3
 • 2017-10-25: Development Release: Qubes OS 4.0 RC2
 • More Qubes releases...

 • 2022-07-05 Qubes 4.0 nears its end of life
 • 2021-10-12 Qubes tests reproducible Debian builds
 • 2021-08-31 Qubes publishes canary document
 • 2021-06-16 Qubes gets a new forum
 • 2021-03-08 Qubes and other security-focused distros
 • 2017-10-03 New VM classes for Qubes
 • 2017-06-28 Qubes OS to get new API
 • 2016-05-30 The Qubes build process
 • More Qubes headlines...

Table Notes and Explanations

(Please refer to the table below.)
  • Select view:
  • To compare the software in this project to the software available in other distributions, please see our Compare Packages page.
  • Notes: In case where multiple versions of a package are shipped with a distribution, only the default version appears in the table. For indication about the GNOME version, please check the "nautilus" and "gnome-shell" packages. The Apache web server is listed as "httpd" and the Linux kernel is listed as "linux". The KDE desktop is represented by the "plasma-desktop" package and the Xfce desktop by the "xfdesktop" package.
  • Colour scheme: green text = latest stable version, red text = development or beta version. The function determining beta versions is not 100% reliable due to a wide variety of versioning schemes.
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Feature 4.1.2 3.2.1 2 1.0
Release Date 2023-03-15 2018-11-13 2014-09-26 2012-09-03
End Of Life   2019-03    
Price (US$) Free Free Free Free
Image Size (MB) 5800-5900 4000-4100 2900-3000 1600-1700
Free Download ISO ISO ISO ISO
Installation Graphical Graphical Graphical Graphical
Default Desktop Xfce Xfce KDE KDE
Package Management RPM (dnf) RPM (yum) RPM (yum) RPM (yum)
Release Model Fixed Fixed Fixed Fixed
Office Suite -- -- -- --
Processor Architecture x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64
Init Software systemd systemd systemd Upstart
Journaled File Systems        
Asian Language Support -- -- -- --
Full Package List 4.1.2 3.2.1 2 1.0
Package 4.1.2 3.2.1 2 1.0
abiword (3.0.5) -- -- -- --
alsa-lib (1.2.9) 1.2.4 1.1.1 1.0.23
amdgpu (23.0.0) -- -- -- --
bash (5.2.15) 5.0 4.3 4.2 4.1.2
bind (9.18.15) -- -- -- --
chromium (114.0.5735.90) -- -- -- --
cups (2.4.3) -- -- -- --
dhcp (4.4.3-P1) -- 4.3.3-P1 4.2.7 4.1.1
e2fsprogs (1.47.0) 1.45.5 1.42.13 1.42.8 1.41.10
firefox (113.0.2) -- -- -- 14.0.1
freetype (2.13.0) 2.10.4 2.6.0 2.5.0 2.3.11
gcc (13.1.0) -- -- -- --
gimp (2.10.34) -- -- -- --
glibc (2.37) 2.31 2.22 2.18 2.12
gnome-shell (44.2) -- -- -- --
gnucash (5.1) -- -- -- --
gnumeric (1.12.55) -- -- -- --
grub (2.06) 2.04 2.02beta 2.00 0.97
gtk (4.10.3) 3.24.28 3.18.9 3.10.9 2.20.1
httpd (2.4.57) -- -- -- --
inkscape (1.2.2) -- -- -- --
k3b (23.04.1) -- -- -- --
kmod (30) 27 22 15 --
krita (5.1.5) -- -- -- --
libreoffice (7.5.3) -- -- -- --
linux (6.3.5) 5.15.94 4.14.74 3.12.23 3.2.7
Package 4.1.2 3.2.1 2 1.0
lxpanel (0.10.1) -- -- -- --
mariadb (10.11.3) -- -- -- --
mate-desktop (1.26.1) -- -- -- --
mesa (23.1.1) 20.2.3 11.1.0 10.1.5 7.11
mysql (8.0.33) -- -- -- --
nautilus (44.2) -- -- -- --
NVIDIA (530.41.03) -- -- -- --
openbox (3.6.1) -- -- -- --
openjdk (20.0.1) -- -- -- --
openssh (9.3p1) 8.3p1 7.2p2 6.4p1 5.4p1
openssl (3.1.1) 1.1.1k 1.0.2j 1.0.1e 1.0.0
perl (5.36.1) 5.30.3 5.22.2 5.18.2 5.10.1
php (8.2.6) -- -- -- --
plasma-desktop (5.27.5) -- -- -- --
postfix (3.8.0) -- -- -- --
postgresql (15.3) -- -- -- --
Python (3.11.3) 3.8.10 2.7.11 2.7.5 2.6.4
qt (6.5.1) 5.14.2 4.8.7 4.8.6 4.6.2
samba (4.18.3) -- -- 4.1.9 --
systemd (253.5) 245.9 222 208 --
thunderbird (102.11.2) -- -- -- --
vim (9.0) 8.2 7.4 7.4 7.2
vlc (3.0.18) -- -- -- --
wayland (1.22.0) -- -- -- --
xfdesktop (4.18.1) 4.14.3 4.12.3 4.10.2 --
xorg-server (21.1.8) 1.20.11 1.18.3 1.14.4 1.8.0

Reader Ratings
Reader supplied reviews for Qubes OS

Average rating
from 29 review(s)

What are your thoughts on Qubes OS?
Please include a few pros and a few cons, along with your overall impression of the operating system.
Our FAQ page has tips on writing a good mini-review.


Rating:    out of 10

Your review (minimum 250 words):

Past reviews - sort by:

Version: 4.1.2
Rating: 9
Date: 2023-04-29
Votes: 6

Qubes has been my main OS for over five years, and I have found it to be a reliable foundation for software development.

I appreciate the time and skill put into the production of Qubes OS: it is a well tested and carefully documented tool.

At first I had a negative impression of Qubes OS because it seemed to put obstacles between me and what I wanted to get done. But eventually I learned how to use it and gained an understanding of the security problem that it solves. By partitioning the OS into separate domains, a kind of ablative resilience is achieved. If one virtual machine gets compromised, you can just throw it away.

Qubes requires a conceptual grasp of how computer software works. You don’t have to be a programmer to use it, but if you aren’t then expect to spend some time building up the prerequisite knowledge for using Qubes.

Was this review helpful? Yes No
Version: 4.1.2
Rating: 10
Date: 2023-03-19
Votes: 10

Qubes allows for the compartmentalization of many distributions into sandboxed "Qubes". It is probably the best operating system for the privacy conscious and provides superior security when compared to almost any other OS. The most recent versions have made leaps and bounds towards making the UI more pleasing for the average user. Some of the other benefits of Qubes include:

Security: Qubes OS offers strong security features, including compartmentalization of different computing tasks and processes in separate virtual machines. This means that if one application or process is compromised, the damage is limited only to that particular virtual machine, and not to the entire system.

Privacy: Qubes OS is designed with privacy in mind, and provides users with tools to control and manage their personal data. Users can set up separate virtual machines for different types of data and tasks, such as banking, social media, and email, which helps to prevent data leakage and unauthorized access.

Flexibility: Qubes OS is highly customizable, and can be configured to meet the needs of a wide range of users. It supports a variety of virtualization technologies and can run on a wide range of hardware, making it suitable for both personal and professional use.

Open source: Qubes OS is an open-source operating system, which means that its source code is available for anyone to inspect and modify. This provides users with greater transparency and control over their computing environment, as well as the ability to contribute to the development of the operating system.

Community: Qubes OS has a vibrant and active community of users and developers who contribute to its ongoing development and support. This community provides users with access to a wealth of resources, including documentation, forums, and online tutorials.

Was this review helpful? Yes No
Version: 4.1.0
Rating: 10
Date: 2022-07-20
Votes: 52

Well-documented, great community, serious approach to security and privacy.

Were you ever curious but afraid:
– to click on that link in the email,
– to open that email attachment,
– to go to that shady-looking website,
– to install and run that suspicious program or even a virus,
– to insert that USB stick from someone untrusted?
Wth Qubes you do it all securely in a disposable VM and your personal files are safe. The worst thing which might happen is that the disposable VM breaks.

Do you want to be anonymous on the Internet? One of the best modern solutions, Whonix with disposable VM, is available on Qubes OS out of the box. Alternative solution would be Tails, but it’s much less convenient and requires to reboot your system each time.

Were you ever experiencing that something breaks after an update or after installing some software? On Qubes OS only a virtual machine breaks in such cases, and it can be easily, securely backed up and restored with a few clicks. Even if you forgot to make a backup this time it’s possible to restore from automatic backups, which are preconfigured.

Do you feel that your work is not well separated from your personal life on your machine? With Qubes OS, you can have separate, independent VMs for them. You start and stop them independently, they don’t interfere with each other. If one is damaged/compromised, the other one will still be fine. Of course, you can have (much) more than two enclaves like those with a unified, simple interface.

Were you ever been concerned about opening your personal email (controlling numerous online accounts) in the same browser where you go to random websites? Actually, even when the browsers are different it can be a problem on a monolithic OS! On Qubes OS, you open those things in separate VMs, isolated with hardware, not software. It’s often better than physical (air-gap) isolation. Recommended by Snowden.

Are you tired of managing tens of complicated passwords, or using a password manager relying on clipboard security? On Qubes OS, you can save all your passwords as plain text (in a dedicated offline VM) and securely copy them into the necessary fields (in other VMs) whenever needed. No viruses or ransomware will have access to them. You can also combine this approach with a password manager.

Do you prefer a certain GNU/Linux distribution, but something forces you to use another one, or Windows? On Qubes you can run many Linux distributions at the same time with a unified, simple interface. That important Windows program should also work in the corresponding Windows VM.

Do you feel concerned that some software you must run (or Windows itself) sends telemetry or unknown stuff to some servers outside of your control? On Qubes OS, you have a Firewall with a simple GUI enforcing any rules on any VM.

Did you hear stories that cameras or microphones in your laptop can be switched on remotely by malicious actors without your consent? On Qubes OS, you choose which VM has access to the camera and microphone, or you choose none. The Admin VM has no Internet.

Are you tired of entering your super-long root password every time you do something? On Qubes, you don’t need a root password at all, because security is enforced on a lower 1 level, level of hardware isolation. Just type sudo and run whatever you need.

Was this review helpful? Yes No

See all 29 reader reviews of Qubes OS...

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