Using Qubes OS for Fun and Profit

Note: This review assumes the reader has a basic understanding of what Qubes OS is and how it works. Please refer to their site for introductory information.

I have been using Qubes OS full time for about six months. The design and architecture have intrigued me for much longer than I have been using it. One of the main hurdles to using Qubes OS is the hardware compatibility needs. My old computer had some issues, so I bought a Dell XPS with i7 Intel processor and 16+GB RAM. My chance had come to give Qubes OS a real try.

Being that I am a full-time consultant for DevOps, Information Security, and Cloud Architecture my needs were a bit different from your average user. With multiple clients with many logins and VPNs, it can be tricky using one main OS (Linux) with VMs.

With Qubes OS I have multiple templates (Debian, Fedora, Windows, Kali, etc.) which I can make various VMs fit different needs. A good example is I have a VM for each client I run in different workspaces. These multiple workspaces allow me to have a VPN connection to their cloud environment along with SSH, AWS, and other keys needed in that isolated VM. Along with bookmarks to services or other things related to that client.

I also have personal VMs for email and web browsing that are separate from a client’s and other work-related VMs. In addition to VMs I use for security auditing based on Kali Linux. The ability to have disposable VMs is convenient for me when I want to test out an Open Source project or tool without wanting to have it installed on an OS Template.

Using Qubes OS does have it’s learning curve since you have to get used to copying and pasting between VMs and moving files between them as well. But once you get into the groove, it becomes second nature to you.

When it comes to backups, Qubes OS allows you to backup the entire VM to an external drive encrypted. So I keep two drives I rotate for backups with one stored in a fireproof safe. Since the whole hard drive of Qubes OS is encrypted, it is mostly worry-free concerning the potential to compromise personal or client’s data/keys.

These observations are on my use of Qubes OS 3.2 with newer 4.0 version released recently. I plan on doing the upgrade soon and will update on this review.

Download Qube OS and give it a try!