"Qubes OS Summit: History from organizer's perspective" by Michał Żygowski

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Andrew David Wong

Sep 7, 2022, 5:12:52 PM9/7/22
to qubes-devel, qubes-users, qubes-project
Dear Qubes Community,

We've just published a new guest article by Michał Żygowski from 3mdeb about the history of Qubes OS Summits. Thanks for sharing with us today, Michał!

"Qubes OS Summit: History from organizer's perspective"
by Michał Żygowski

The Markdown source of the article is reproduced below as a courtesy to plain text email readers.


## Introduction

The next [Qubes OS Summit 2022](https://www.qubes-os.org/news/2022/07/29/qubes-os-summit-2022/)
edition is upcoming. This year it will be held in Berlin from September 9th to
11th in hybrid format, in person and live-streamed for remote access. More
details [here](https://qubesos.3mdeb.com/). Don't miss the event and more
importantly how it started. In the article the history and organizer's
perspective of the event will be described.

## How did all of this start?

In May 2019 3mdeb funded Linux training for its employees, having no idea who
the instructor will be. At some point, it occurred that the mysterious
instructor will be none other than Marek Marczykowski-Górecki, the same person
who leads the Qubes OS project. As huge fans of Qubes OS and its approach to
security, as also fans of Joanna Rutkowska security research in the area of
firmware and computer architecture, we were delighted to meet him in person in
our office in Gdańsk, Poland. The time has come when the idea of a short event
focused on firmware impact on Qubes OS security has been born. We asked Marek
if he has some spare time to discuss firmware impacts on Qubes OS security and
he liked the idea. The event has been called humorously a "minisummit". That is
how the first Qubes OS summit started, one day, in a small conference room,
with a tiny group of people passionate about firmware and system security,
nothing outrageous (in the meaning of scale). One may still read what topics
have been discussed
The main focus was on Qubes OS certification and ecosystem as well as the
firmware-related security technologies support like TPM 2.0 and DRTM (Anti Evil
Maid). The event helped 3mdeb realize how to get involved in Qubes OS project
and help to improve it with our expertise.

## The past of Qubes OS Summits

Everyone enjoyed that one particular day so much, that we decided to repeat the
event next year. The environment we created together, bending and crossing the
event horizon between firmware and operating system, was something wonderful,
both to hear and to speak about. The potential we saw in that kind of event, to
bring various companies together and collaborate on the project on every
possible layer, has been pushing us forward to enlarge the community and
introduce more open-source firmware to the Qubes OS world.

Another May has come, the year 2020, the pandemic dominated the world. But it
didn't stop us from holding the event again! It even gave us a better
opportunity to attract and gather more people virtually to attend the event.
Thanks to our 3mdeb colleagues, who set up the live recording and streaming of
the whole Qubes OS 2020 Summit, it is possible to see and listen to the talks
given by Qubes OS and 3mdeb experts on
over and over again. From 3mdeb side we continued firmware-related topics, for
example first time Qubes OS Anti Evil Maid on AMD platform. It was quite a
challenge for us because we have organized such a virtual event for the first
time. Fortunately, everything went smoothly and finished with success after 4
sessions 2.5 hours long.

In August 2021 we held yet another Qubes OS Summit together with the Qubes OS
team, still virtually, unfortunately. However, this year brought more speakers
from other companies and projects, which we were very happy about. There were 2
sessions almost 4 hours each and one may watch the talks at
This time, the 3mdeb's stage belonged to Piotr Król (CEO of 3mdeb) who presented
his adventures using Qubes OS as an everyday device, talking about USB camera
and cryptocurrency wallets. Of course firmware-related topics could not be
missing and Piotr also showed continuation of his previous year's efforts of
securing the VMs with SRTM and Secure Boot.

## The future of Qubes OS Summits

Finally, the time has come when we may meet together in person, after three
years! The Qubes OS Summit 2022 is fast approaching, with only a few days left
before the start of the event in Berlin. As it is no longer held only virtually
(but still possible to attend remotely for those who can't be with us in
person) the organization is more complicated, both from the logistics and
presentations side. Every year we try our best to dig into hardcore security
topics on the verge of firmware and operating systems. All this time we have
been gradually building plans and ideas, and getting closer and closer to the
goal of improving the security of Qubes OS, especially in areas we feel best
at, i.e. SRTM and DRTM (AEM). In the upcoming event, we have prepared a few
interesting projects and ideas around Anti Evil Maid support and open-source
firmware on modern hardware.
[Here](https://cfp.3mdeb.com/qubes-os-summit-2022/schedule/#) you may find the
full schedule. Among others we welcome the following speakers:

* Wessel Klein Snakenborg from Novacustom with a story of open-source on modern
laptops as a candidate to Qubes OS certification
* Brent Cowing from Protectli talking about security of his small form factor
computers also running open-source firmware
* Jan Suhr from Nitrokey talking about how enterprise requirements tied to
Windows can be met with Qubes OS
* Arthur Rasmusson from Arc Compute talking about GPU virtualization and its
possible benefits to Qubes oS
* Puck Meerburg from Spectrum OS telling about the power of Wayland for GUI
isolation and how it benefits systems like Qubes OS or Spectrum OS
* And everyone from 3mdeb, Qubes OS team, and others

We hope that the event and community around it and the Qubes OS project will
grow in the future, bringing reasonable trustworthiness and collaboration for
everybody. Definitely, 3mdeb will try its best to co-organize the event in the
upcoming years.

## Summary

By a mere coincidence, meeting Marek Marczykowski-Górecki gave birth to a
fascinating series of Qubes OS Summits and led us to this day.

Together with Invisible Things Lab we (3mdeb) are very proud to be the
co-organizers of the 4th edition of the event. Looking forward to seeing each
other again, but most important to talk and share knowledge and passion with
everyone again after a long time.

Many thanks to the Qubes OS team for holding up the tradition with us. See you
all in Berlin!
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