Need recommendations of GOOD Qubes laptops that can be bought in the physical realm

I need a new laptop that can run Qubes (preferably stably), minimum 16 rams, with removable/replaceable battery, that can be purchased in electronics stores in the mid-to-east U.S., and much preferably one of those odd ones that managed to strip out the CPU-level spyware (although I realize that last point might make this a tall order so I can tolerate it as a last resort).

Real-world shopping gets tricky when you have to factor things like IOMMU support and lord knows what other nitpicks Qubes has that I haven’t ran into yet. Perhaps the community happens to know some models that fit the above description?

From your post, I would guess you are thinking that you will, go into a physical store, with a list of possibles, and the store clerk says, let me look on my computer at what is on the shelf, either in front in the back room. If you find something that is, most likely in his store room, being the nice fellow that you will be trying to be, you ask if you can go back with him and pick which box you will buy, and he lets you. So you do some kind thought in your head about which one is most like the one that has never really been opened or tampered with, and say, “That box right there.”

I live in a small town, so I don’t know what real electronics stores are left, after the Pandemic. There are places like Staples

If you are a member, Costco used to set laptops out for people to try out, but the one all the children have been pounding on is the one you will get, not a similar from a box. Although, I guess that service might be available.

Personally, I am curious as to why you say it must be a physical store. Not a criticism, just, there are all kinds of approaches to security. When Bruce Schneier was given the chance to look at the Snowden files, he went to what he hoped was a randomly chosen store, and picked what he hoped was a randomly chosen used laptop, which he opened and took out the WiFi adapter. When he finished his reading of the files. He wrote over the disk many times, took it out and physically destroyed the disk. He did not want to keep copies of files. I said all that to say, I understand that you may have a reason for using this method to pick a laptop. Some very bright, knowledgeable folks have done something similar.

No doubt you have seen the HCL, “Hardware Compatibility list.” Qubes Certified computers at the bottom of Qubes OS screens are, as you probably know, (I want to write this for complete newcomers with the same question as you.) “Qubes Certified” are specially modified computers to accomplish some specific security things. (the list is there)

Several years ago, someone said the best way to have a brand new computer to run Qubes on, to pick one of several brands known where the manufacturer tends to cooperate working well with Linux. Buy two of those computers maxed out. Put them in a closet and in two years, likely you have your desire. A brand new out of box, that, by then, enough is known that it likely can be configured to work well with Qubes.

Meaning for an Operating System to be Secure, it needs to have a lot of testing which might work with the nearly latest hardware, but for the deeply security minded, might not hit the sweet spot of experience, testing some demand.

You might look at the HCL at Chrome Books. Some having Core Boot, and can be modified to run Linux.

then of course, that statement is somewhat contradicted by a few companies who manufacture computers specifically, manufactured, modified to Qubes Certified machines, but those are likely shipped from a distance. Not to be found in a local store.

Some threads similar to this:

The last thread where I felt it was interesting to think, whether, the person buying a computer was more interested in trying Qubes out before spending a lot of money? I have guessed that some who want a secure laptop platform, do not want in their records what they bought when. I am thinking of a Human Rights defender, which has an unfortunate history of Human Rights Violations. Or perhaps the local power (able to be in charge) structure is dominated by a private company, who did not tolerate folks talking about some of their practices. Perhaps the local second hand store, like, "Salvation Army, Likely a laptop that seems like it works will not be in the store long.

If you have not done so, you might take a look at the “Tails OS,” only costs the use of USB stick likely is functional with many laptops. It might scratch where you itch, without spending a lot of money.

I guess the first questions I should have asked, how much money do you want to spend? How much of a open the computer and work on it yourself are you? If you have never used Qubes before, are you willing to invest the hours of investment needed to learn how to use it, to create your own implementation of Qubes. Qubes can be thought of as several minimal Linux Operating Systems which are separate from each other by both software design and by hardware Virtualization. They are running on top of Xen hpervisor, (installed directly onto the computer hardware) with some common hardware functions being, such as internet connections, USB. being handled in common with Xen Hypervisor.

Qubes might also be though of as a tool kit. The user must put together his own version. Which can take hours. Interesting that Journalists, who really need high security computers, as I have been told, almost never use Qubes because the bar is too high.

And before that, have you done a threat assessment that you are satisfied with? Meaning, in my questioning process, do you feel you absolutely require to be able to verify the computer has -probably not - been tampered with since the last time you used it? (which is what Anti-evil Maid, and Heads is about) Or IME (Intel Management Engine - some of the undesired by privacy experts) are neutralized.

Must have ‘Anti-Evil Maid, and/or Heads’ drastically limits, or must have the negative features of IME neutralized, drastically limits computers selection list.

As always, I am sure I said something incorrectly, or downright stupid. Others should feel free to jump in and clarify. As I said before, I tried to write this for someone who was very inexperienced, perhaps not the case for OP. So Original Poster, I did not intend to speak down to your knowledge, experience. No offense meant.


1 Like