Qubes R2 Beta 2 with KDE 4.9 environment (click for more screenshots)

We're progressing fast and today I would like to announce the release of Qubes R2 Beta 2 ISO. The installation and upgrade instructions, as well as the ISO itself, can be found via the our wiki page. As usual, please remember to verify the digital signature of the downloaded ISO.

The major changes in this beta release include:
  • Upgraded Dom0 distribution to the latest Fedora 18 (all previous releases used Fedora 13 for Dom0!)
  • Upgraded default VM template also to Fedora 18
  • Upgraded Dom0 kernel to 3.7.6
  • Upgraded KDE environment in Dom0 (KDE 4.9)
  • Introduced Xfce 4.10 environment for Dom0 as an alternative to KDE
  • A few other fixes and improvements, including the recently discussed Disposable VM-based PDF converter

The upgrade of the Dom0 distribution and kernel should significantly improve hardware compatibility – one of the major problems with Qubes adoption so far, as we hear. Now, with the latest GPU drivers and Xorg packages, I hope we will be able to cover a much boarder range of hardware (especially all the newer GPUs).

The upgrade of KDE in Dom0 is mostly an eye-candy type of improvement (but then, who doesn't like eye candies!), as is the introduction of the Xfce4 as its alternative, although, arguably, Xfce4 is considered faster and lighter than KDE. In Qubes the choice of an actual desktop environment that runs in Dom0 is not as important as it is on traditional Linux systems, I think, simply because most of the functionality, typically provided by such environments, such as apps and file management, is simply... disabled, because on Qubes there are no user apps or files in Dom0.

Nevertheless people love and hate particular window managers and environments, and we hope that now, by supporting alternative environments, we could appeal to even more users.

I'm glad that we just completed this difficult phase of upgrading Qubes Dom0 distribution (for the first time since Qubes R1 Beta 1!) -- this forced us to clean up the code and prepare for some even bigger and bolder changes in the near future. But those will come only in Release 3. As far as Release 2 is considered, we do have quite a few more tickets scheduled for R2 Beta 3 milestone, but most of those represent various addons, rather than modifications to Qubes core software.

So what are those brave changes that are to happen in Release 3? That I will write about in a separate blog post... Stay tuned!

So, please enjoy this latest Qubes R2 beta release, and be sure to send all your questions and comments, as well as the HCL info, to the qubes-devel mailing list. I have already upgraded my primary laptop to this release a few days ago and everything seems to be working fine, so fear not!