A rolling distro for Dom 0?

Hi all,

Currently Qubes 4.0 (stable) dom0 is running Fedora 25 and Qubes 4.1 (alpha) dom0 is running Fedora 32. Fedora 33 was just released and Fedora 32 would be maintained only until 4 weeks after the release of Fedora 34. Once the distro reached EoL, no bugs would ever be patched in dom0, unless Qubes devs patch them. I do realize this is not as much of an issue since dom0 doesn’t really connect to internet etc. But it does run the GUI and audio, at least in the current alpha as well. I am mostly worried about security bugs in these components that might never be patched after Fedora EoL.

I was wondering, why we don’t run a rolling distribution in dom0, something like Arch? One argument could be that rolling distributions like Arch are generally “less stable” than non-rolling ones like Fedora and Debian, but at least they would receive updates forever and users would have the freedom to choose when to apply these updates.

I would love to hear what the devs think about this.

Please no. EOL distribution in dom0 is not much of an issue (see https://www.qubes-os.org/doc/supported-versions/#note-on-dom0-and-eol), at least from security point of view. You could still want dom0 updates to fix some bugs (like display glitches or imperfect font rendering), but that doesn’t affect security much.
On the other hand, we definitely need stability in dom0. If you have a problem with some TemplateBasedVM, you can simply switch it to another template, or rollback last update of a template. If you have a problem with dom0, you don’t have this option and if it causes VM not starting, you can’t even downgrade a package, as you can’t access network in any way.
You can search the issue tracker, or even here how frequent are issues about an Arch update breaking some Qubes component. This is simply unacceptable in dom0.
In non-rolling distributions once we have reasonably stable version, we can release it and have some confidence it will remain stable. Users actually can rely on their system to not break after some arbitrary update.

As for various update you’d like to receive for GUI/Audio parts anyway, this is why we’re slowly moving them out of dom0: https://www.qubes-os.org/news/2020/03/18/gui-domain/. In 4.1 it is an optional experimental feature, but at some point it will be default.


Thanks for the detailed response, @marmarek. I understand the various factors a little better now.