Qubes OS for Smartphones

@alzer89 I think you’ve cornered the use cases. Well at least mine ^^
But @Quser59 pinpointed a technical question : would a Qubes OS for smartphone use Android as dom0 ?
I don’t think that’s feasible, the easiest way would be to re-use the existing code base, so Linux.
An Android OS should be launched as a domU. That also allows having different templates for different app stores (the official and the open source ones).
I have no knowledge of how a SoC works, so I don’t even know if they are capable of PCI-PT like capabilities. I have also no idea if ARM’s equivalent of the IOMMU would work in our use case.
That’s why I proposed to start using serial protocols (via GPIO or HW serial ports) on Xen-capable ARM CPUs.
The hardware part is always the harder to bend to our wishes.

Just as you can launch x86 android in Qubes now, does not mean you need an android dom0.
dom0 would be some minimal linux, as with qubes now.

Xen on Arm is not the issue. Qubes needs porting to it.

Further, smartphones are different to laptop computers. As above, cameras directly interfacing with the CPU (i.e: mipi), cannot be detached/attached in the way a pcie or usb device can on an intel x86 cpu - as far as I’m aware.

None of this is impossible. but don’t expect it from any manufacturer any time soon. If it’s going to happen, then it’s going to be its own project. There are many, many hurdles to overcome and no economic incentive for a mainstream manufacturer to do so.

Unfortunately Qubes user base is niche, and the market for a phone may have a large backing, but relative to the funding required, not currently large enough.

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not sure if QUBESOS would be usable (or useful) on a smartphone… without major changes. Fuchsia ond gVisor would better approach, maybe?
On the other hand porting to ARM would a step forward, away from the rotten x86 arch.
XEN now supports ARM, so (theoretically) suitable for QUBESOS, as long as hardware supporting SMMUv3 (System MMU Support – Arm Developer) would be available (apple M1 does not seem apt for the task, unfortunately, does not even permit type-1 hypervisor!)
Anyway, none of this will happen anytime soon, at least without a serious inrush of money to the project, I guess.

To caricature it, not only to arm, if Qubes wants to survive, it has to be ported to browsers, like everything else will in most of ten years from now. That’s how I see the trends, browsers eating gigs of RAM and everything alike.

Well, it looks like someone’s already hard at work at this:



Interesting! Although it should be noted that’s from 2017.

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Recently I watched the YT’er TheHatedOne’s video in which he makes use of the “User Profiles” feature in Android and the GrapheneOS to compartmentalize his smartphone activities. Among the activities he sets a user profile are, business communication apps, anonymous browsing, and google play services usage.

Is this utilization of User Profiles feature in Android/GrapheneOS the closest one can get to the compartmentalization feature of QubesOS but in smartphones? Ideas?

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Yes, I agree with you :joy:

On grapheneos user profiles can be used to compartimentalize, but the mais reason is to stop possibilities of IPC communication between apps. Default Android behaviour is apps can talk to each other if both apps consent.
As of now, the main handicaps for this kind of usage are lack of across profile notifications and the lack of “send to another user profile” function.
I find it quite usable though.
Bear in mind that app sandbox is much better in android than linux, though arguably inferior to xen (considering one app per appvm).

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This topic interests myself due to the critical thinking from my opinion. Qubes for smartphone might come into the future if I challenge myself to make a custom kernel based on Linux. However, this may take time.

Update: grapheneos has inter profile notifications for quite a while now. Works great.

would pay top money for a smart phone like that aha

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At least you can already install Qubes on a tablet (Librem 11).

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is there any video showcase of this?

No, there is only a confirmation from Purism that it works.

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The StarLite Mk V seems to meet minimum recommended Qubes spec. Intel N200 (supports VT-x with EPT, VT-d, Intel UHD Graphics), 16GB RAM, coreboot, TPM, detachable keyboard, starting at 512GB storage. All that needs work is product availability and some shrinking down! Super excited to see actual potential here!


I want this

With optionally pre-installed Qubes-OS 4.2 ! See the bottom page of this StarLite Mk V spec
Also included coreboot, EDK II but no GSM/5G.

If we’re going to switch architectures, I recommend RISC-V instead of ARM. I’d spend my life savings on a RISC PC that can run Qubes OS. Then again I am nervous I will melt in the face of such unmatched epicness.

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If I could say this, then I would say that. In the future, there would be smartphone that uses a quantum chip to run Qubes. Specifically, 2 identical quantum chips that runs RISC with its own virtualization technology. Those 2 chips could run separately from each other: 1 is the CPU, the other is GPU/TPU. I suspect that the identical chips should have the following specs:

  1. 64K cores (65’536 core)
  2. 8 GB of DRAM storage
  3. Must have virtualization technology
  4. Refined Li-ion batteries (24h+ per battery)
  5. USB-C charger w/ 111W
  6. At least 1 PB of internal storage
  7. Fold-able screens & detachable screens
  8. Bluetooth 8/9
  9. 128 GB internal RAM

These are my sussy specs for the new smartphone that could run Qubes.

Any Q’s, Cmt’s, and/or Crn’s, please put it out there.