Qubes == Dollar$

Well, bitcoins, anyway. I'm of two minds on software bounties personally: there's nothing like money for bringing interest to a new platform and bounties do directly subsidize development, but they tend to attract mercenary types who may not have interest in the platform otherwise and they rarely cover the full actual development cost. Moreover, while they do usually yield software projects that work, at least for whatever the definition of "work" was, in many cases they subsequently bitrot and become unmaintained (or unmaintainable) due to the community lacking the technical expertise they put the bounty up for in the first place. As a relevant example, this happens a lot in the Amiga community, where people just try to throw money at the software gaps; many projects get finished but few have lasting significance (Timberwolf comes to mind but there are others), and these wrinkles clearly distinguish bounties from crowdfunding where a presumably already interested party just needs resources to finish the work they already want to do.

Nevertheless, it's still a step in the right direction, and there is lots of interest in our higher-security OpenPOWER world in running a higher-security operating system. Qubes OS certainly has the chops with its strict(er) security-by-isolation approach and its multiple operating domains. Qubes, however, is based on the Xen hypervisor and not KVM, and they make a cogent case for why, i.e., it doesn't rely on the Linux kernel to do proper isolation and Xen is more self-contained, smaller and thus more auditable (see the PDF specification). Unfortunately, while Xen used to support PowerPC through version 3.2 (so-called "XenPPC"), it doesn't look like work has been done on Power ISA compatibility in almost a decade and it certainly doesn't support the later features exploited by KVM-HV needed for high-throughput on modern Power CPUs.

Some work on getting a KVM-based strategy "good enough" for Power has already been done, and there are some encouraging statements from Qubes developers on what they would consider an acceptable security target. (However, this work was started by Shaun "Mr. Chromium on POWER9" Anastasio, which sort of proves my point that people who are already interested will do the work, bounty or not.) My impression is that there is still a fair amount of work to be done and that brings us to the moolah.

While the "task" has not actually been well-defined in the Github issue referenced (it's not actually "deliver Qubes OS that can boot on POWER9 (and the head of John the Baptist);" it reads to me more like "do the systems work to either get KVMPPC up to snuff or deliver a working alternative foundation"), the task is certainly well-funded: 2 BTC, currently US$19,368, and the potential for another matching donation of 1 BTC to equal 4 BTC. Thirty-eight grand is definitely enough money to get anyone's attention, though don't ask me, because I don't know a great deal about Qubes' internals and I'm still trying to do this Firefox JIT thing in my "copious" spare time. But if you do, and you've got the hardware and you've got the need, step right up.

Meanwhile, Shaun struck again and ported BSNES. What was that I said about bounties and people who were already interested?


  1. Holy shiet, Shaun is a legend! And having BSNES/Higan is a MUST!

    About Qubes, aside the lack of a PPC version of Xen, it's also quite a letdown that Qubes itself (or Xen?) contains binary blobs inherited from the main Linux kernel. Otherwise, I'd completely embrace Qubes for PPC. Afterall, it's the only architecture that is both powerful and freedom-respecting.

  2. Note: bsnes/higan already worked (only had to enable the fallback implementation for coroutines) but Shawn wrote ELFv2 ppc64 assembly support for that, for better performance.


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