Linux Fedora

How to install the Qubes operating system on VirtualBox

If you are truly security-conscious and don’t want to spend your money on expensive software, then Qubes OS is the answer to all of your security concerns.

Qubes, as an operating system, operates in isolation. It creates isolated compartments, all based on Xen-based virtualization technology.

This helps in the creation and management of “qubes” (isolated compartments). Each individual qube limits the interactions between software and hardware, to enhance the concept of security delivery.

In this guide, the goal is to help you install the latest version of Qubes OS on Oracle VirtualBox.


Prerequisites for installing Qubes OS

You will need Oracle VirtualBox to create a virtual machine. If VirtualBox is not already installed on your system, you can download the latest version from the official website.

To download: VirtualBox

Another important prerequisite is the installation image of the Qubes operating system. Go to qubes-os.org and download the latest ISO version to continue.

Step 1: Create a new virtual machine for Qubes OS

Once you’ve downloaded the Qubes ISO image, it’s time to launch VirtualBox and start setting up a new virtual machine.

In VirtualBox, you need to click on the New option to display configuration options. This step allows you to start loading the functions of your new virtual environment.

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create a new virtualbox vm

In the next screen, enter the name of your virtual machine. For convenience, it is always best to keep a name related to the distribution you are installing.

If the Type the option is not filled in automatically with Linux, you can manually select it from the drop-down menu. In addition, choose Fedora (64-bit) in the Version category, because Qubes OS is a Fedora-based distribution.


create a virtual machine

As soon as you go to the next screen, you need to allocate memory to your new virtual machine. Move the cursor or enter 4056 (MB) manually in the corresponding field. Then click on Following.


Virtual box interface

On the next screen, choose Create virtual hard drive now in the list of available options and click To create. Then select VDI as the file type on the hard drive. Click on Following to go to the next screen.

For storage on a physical hard drive, leave at the default, i.e. Dynamically assigned. hurry Enter proceed.

On the next screen, you will need to set the File location and size of your virtual environment. Under the file location, the path you specify will become the host folder where VirtualBox will store data associated with the operating system. If the default path is incorrect, you can change it to another folder location.

In the size slider, you can choose between 4 MB and 2 TB. Depending on your system configurations, select the desired value. For installation, 8 GB is the minimum recommended size.

Once you click on To create, the initial configurations will be completed. However, remember that you have not set the path from which the virtual machine will load the ISO image. Before launching the newly created machine, updating the ISO path is essential.

To do this, click on the Settings or right-click on the newly created machine, followed by Settings. Then click on the Storage option in the left sidebar.

Under the Controller: IDE option, select Empty. Under the Attributes on the right side, click the disk icon to load the ISO image. To select Choose a disk file from the drop-down menu.


selection of the iso qubes image

In the next pop-up window, you can set the path where the ISO image is stored so that the virtual machine can use it during the boot session. Click on Okay once the path has been updated.

You can now power on the machine, all configurations having finally been completed.

Step 2: Install the Qubes operating system on the virtual machine

On the left panel, you will notice a virtual machine icon, with the Fedora logo and the name of the virtual machine (Qubes OS) clearly defined. Double-click on this button to power the machine.

As the machine charges, you will be presented with several options. Select the first option Install Qubes R4.0.4. There will be some internal configuration while the machine loads files for installation.


Virtual box interface

On the home screen, choose the language according to your preference. You can use the arrow keys to navigate through the options. Click on Carry on once you have selected a preferred language.


    Virtual box interface

Once you reach the Installation Summary screen, click the button Installation destination under the System heading.

Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and uncheck the option Encrypt my data.


    Virtual box interface

Click on the Do button at the top.

You can start the installation by clicking on the Start installation option available on Installation summary screen. As soon as you click on the button, the installation process begins. On the same screen, you will also have two additional buttons: Root password and User creation.


    Virtual box interface

If you need root user, you can set the details as you need. You can also enter user details for additional users in the User Creation section, as well as the password to access the system after installation.

It will take a few minutes for the installation to complete with the required details. After installation is complete, you must restart your system for the changes to take effect.


Virtual box interface

After your system has restarted, you will see an initial installation message: QUBES OS. Uncheck the following sub-options before powering on your machine:

  • Enable system and template updates on the Tor Anonymity Network using Whonix
  • Use sys-net qube for networking and USB devices
  • Do not configure anything (for advanced users)

Click on Complete the setup.

As soon as you restart, the system will present you with a login screen, in which you need to enter the username and password you set before. That’s it; you are ready to work on your own secure Qubes OS environment.

Related: Want to try Kali Linux? Here’s how to install it in VirtualBox

Finish installing Qubes OS

Qubes OS might not be a well-known Linux distribution, but nonetheless, it is one of the most secure Linux distributions available in the open source market. By following these installation steps, you can easily install Qubes OS on VirtualBox safely.

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