Changing to debian: sys-net, sys-firewall, sys-usb (and possibly fedora-32-dvm)

Not wanting to hijack the thread,

Which Fedora (30-33) is considered most stable? - #4 by Sven

I am enquiring here. I like to keep my system updated faithfully, but find myself then needing to manually install fedora updates through Qubes Manager, as the update widget at the top of the screen never successfully completes the task. For this reason and for my past preference for debian based systems, I would like to convert the vm’s in the title above to debian based. From the thread referred to above and past threads I’ve seen, users have suggested using debian instead of fedora for varying tasks and reasons.

Is it possible to switch from using fedora to using debian for sys-net, sys-firewall, sys-usb (and possibly fedora-32-dvm)?

Is it an advantage to do so?

And lastly how would I go about doing so?
I don’t see anything in the Docs to cover this.

I have cloned the three sys vm’s and then changed the clones to debian based vm’s. This seemed successful and I now have the vm’s sys-net-debian10, sys-firewall-debian10 and sys-usb-debian10. I then tried changing the default fedora sys files to the debian files using the Qubes Global Settings gui, hoping to do a reboot and have the debian sys vm"s up and running. The system will not let me do that. Not wanting to make my system un-startable, I’m now at a loss as to how to proceed.

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  1. You don’t need to clone the VMs to do this, that’s causing you extra complexity. All you need to do is switch the templates of the original.

  2. If you use wifi, make sure your wireless firmware is installed in the Debian template. Unlike Fedora, I believe they are not installed by default in the regular template.

  3. If you do want to clone the VMs, you’ll also have to reattach the devices. The closest thing to a document for this that I know of is the following, although it’s about dvms: DisposableVM Customization | Qubes OS. You can also do this in the Qubes Settings; remove the relevant PCI device from the old sys-net VM and attach it to the new VM. (But read that link, it may be more complicated for sys-usb.)


Also, here it says the packages that you need to have in a sys-net, sys-firewall and sys-usb. My guess is most will already be installed by default on the debian-10 template.

For sys-net as a disposableVM you’ll find instructions here

This is not necessary, the cloned VM will automatically have the same devices. You just can’t run both the original and cloned VM simultaneously.

I’ve been using debian for the sys-* VMs for a long time. The only hiccup is some passthrough commands for qubes-dom0-update don’t work when the UpdateVM is debian-based or whonix-based (for example sudo qubes-dom0-update --action=info <pkg>).

dmoerner, deeplow and airelemental: Thanks to all for the help.

I have downloaded a debian-10-minimal vm deeplow to have an unaltered base for my new sys vm’s (I had added a couple of other programs to my original debian-10 vm and also made a debian-10-hvm vm from that.) I have added the extras deeplow from your suggested link and also set up the passwordless login for sudo as suggested.)

I have deleted my previous cloned vm’s dmoerner. I originally had tried to just convert my originally installed sys vm’s to debian, but since the system was running and hence also the sys vm’s were running, the Qubes Manager wouldn’t let me alter the Templates upon which these vm’s were based. That’s why I had tried cloning, etc. Also this system is all hardwired cat6, so “no” to your question of whether I needed wifi installed.

I would like to play around with the disposable vm factor. But for the time being, I think I’ll try to keep it simple.

airelemental: I would like to not use the cloned vm’s. They’re gone now anyway. As to the passthrough command hiccups, my lesser knowledge base and involvement will probably keep me from trying things, which might get me into the “hiccups” I think.

There is one main stumbling block now though, as I see it. I am now thinking, that I must need to use the dom0 Terminal somehow to replace the running sys vm’s’ fedora-32 templates with the debian-10-minimal template. Is there a command to accomplish this or am I on the wrong track? Many thanks

You can just go to vm settings and change the template (after you shutdown sys-net). If you want to do it via dom0 terminal it’s qvm-prefs sys-net template debian-10-minimal but it won’t be effective until after you restart sys-net.

If you haven’t come across it already, there is this great thread on debian-10-minimal:

Thanks deeplow! I wasn’t aware of that. I will give that a good look to see, what else I may need to add/correct before going much farther.

Also thanks airelemental. I am still having some snags though, with your last suggestions. Qubes will not let me change the template to debian in Qubes Manager, without first shutting down the VM. But if I try to shut down sys-firewall from the Qubes Manager, it cannot shut down as it’s connected to both sys-usb and sys-whonix. Sys-net will not shut down as it’s connected to sys-firewall. I can successfully shut down sys-whonix. I can also shut down sys-usb, but then I lose the ability to input anything as the usb mouse and keyboard are both on sys-usb. If I try to change any of the sys-templates via the dom0 Terminal, I’m told, that I need to shut down the vm first. Is there something I’m missing?

I will have a look at the debian-10-minimal configuration thread first, before attempting to shut down and change the templates any further.

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