Desktop Customization (xfce)

Lets start a DOM0 XCFE Visual Customization Thread

We all know the security risks. But we also all want to address the customization options with a FAQ.


Nice thread idea @discourse.f636cb! What about yours?

Notes on customization

Just in case this is not true for all the people reading the thread, I’m leaving here a little note:

:warning: Warning

Installing any additional software on dom0 is not recommended as anything that runs there must be ultimately trusted since software installed in dom0 can exercise full control over all other Qubes.

Read more on the security disclaimer of docs on Installing and updating software in dom0

There are other security disclaimers (like the risk of sharing screenshots of your dom0), but I won’t go into that depth.

Dark XFCE + Whisker menu

I don’t usually run xfce (de default desktop environment) - I prefer tiling window manager like i3 I mainly did customization from the (unnoficial) docs. And I couldn’t pass on the dark theme…

Here’s what it looks like.

You’ll notice that the Q menu is not the default one. I’m using the “whisker” menu instead, which comes installed (but not activated) by default also with xfce (I think!). And I find that search functionality to be super useful. Additionally, I made is so when I click the “windows key” it pops up the menu. See a tutorial on how to enable this here: Replacing the "Q" menu with the better "whisker menu".

Regarding the theming and window styling, I’m a dark theme person so I went with Adwaita-dark on the appearance and Nodoka for the window borders:

More Qubes colors \o/

A while ago (perhaps 2 years ago) I manage to customize some Qubes’ colors. But it lead to some problems, because the code is not made to handle that (many things are hardcoded). Regardless, it was fun while it lasted. I’ll leave here links to relevant threads:


I moved this to the #general-discussion since it’s more a demo than necessarily us explaining how to do stuff. And I added the (xfce) to the title too.

1 Like

Liking this thread. The default menu is clunky and cluttered, which led to horrible workflow. On top of that, the Run command in Qube option doesn’t work with XTerm (qube starts but XTerm doesn’t). Originally, I was adding autostart to my qubes so that when combined with tasket’s halt-vm-by-window*, I can make the Qube Manager a ‘sort-of’ Start Menu, Windows style.


  1. Start VM from Qube menu (two clicks)
  2. Program starts
  3. Use program
  4. Terminate VM by pressing Alt + Esc

This is smooth, intuitive, and especially useful if you have just one program/website/etc. per qube, which is what I believe is best security practice. Also works for those with general-purpose qubes.

Now that I use Whiskermenus I can keep my hands on the keyboard and don’t have to manually configure my qubes to autostart programs. The downside is that I have to actively manage what’s in the applications menu.

Testing i3 now since tiling support sounds like something I’d want.


P.S. Does anyone know if there’s something like redshift/night light/night mode for dom0? It’s a function/program that makes your screen look yellowy that’s available by default on basically all mainstream PCs nowadays.


*Installation involves copying into dom0, which can potentially lead to GameOver™ if not done with the utmost care.


Cool! @fiftyfourthparallel

Just as a quick reference (In case you haven’t seen it yet) something like this is being discussed here: App menu redesign · Issue #5677 · QubesOS/qubes-issues · GitHub

That’s a nice trick. Thanks for elaborating on that. Though it may be out of reach for most users. But it would be cool to have a default shortcut like that, perhaps. The only problem would be discoverability of that feature. Maybe an icon to shut down the VM next to the minimize maximize close icons qubes-icon

Glad you’re happy with whiskermenus! The “keeping your hands on the keyboard” refers to the fact that it has a search feature?

Nice! That’s what I use mostly (though I’m thinking of switching to dwm (another tiling window manager), but stuck with this bug. Perhaps we should also start a thread like this but for i3 in the future.

1 Like

I’d love to see a UI redesign for Qubes, since its unique system means it doesn’t work well with typical layouts and desktop managers. I even have some ideas I’d love to contribute*. However this all seems like a lot of work. If this draws manpower from the core project goals (e.g. security) I’d much rather stick with what we have, which users like you and I will find ways to cope with.

The main draw is the shortcut doesn’t present a prompt like whenever I shut down a qube via the Qube Manager. If you add an icon up there, a prompt is needed even more so than in Qube Manager. I can see the value in having the option, but it also adds clutter that some might see as redundant.

Thank you again for introducing me to it. Yes, it’s because I can go Win, type thunderbird (or proton thunderbird) then smash Enter. The focus gets directed to the new window, I keyboard my way through that, then Alt + Esc and move on to better things.


*e.g. a drag-and-connect network configurer map where qubes are represented by different colored Qubes logos (the blocky ‘Q’), with the inside color (or inner icon) of each Q representing different templates and the letter itself corresponding to appVM’s label color

Oh, Nice! I have some ideas myself. They maybe we should join the discussions of possible new interface components - being designed by Nina.

I had thought just of the same thing! What are the chances? :wink:

Yeah, i agree with you. That why this stuff needs to be tested with real users to see what they find easier.

A post was split to a new topic: Qubes Usability Discussion

I moved the Qubes usability discussion into a new topic since there is probably so much to say and it was getting a bit off-topic

Does anyone know if there’s something like redshift/night light/night
mode for dom0? It’s a function/program that makes your screen look
yellowy that’s available by default on basically all mainstream PCs

[dom0] sudo qubes-dom0-update redshift



…and this is why I replaced the ‘Q’ icon of my start menu with the accessibility icon–to remind myself I’m basically handicapped when it comes to Qubes. Thanks, Sven!

Edit: redshift -O [temp value] doesn’t change the screen color. It says that it’s changing the color using method randr, but nothing ever changes. Maybe redshift simply doesn’t work given Qubes’ special setup (if so, what is it doing in the repo?)

Great minds think alike? I want to say that it’s because we both came up with an obvious and basic idea in hindsight, but this sounds way better!

1 Like

It definitely works. I have Redshift set up on my private laptop running Qubes (Thinkpad E495). While I was running with the default kernel dom0 could not alter the screen settings. Neither the color/temperature nor the brightness value. This was not only a Redshift issue. The usual hotkeys on Thinkpad keyboards didn’t work either.
I figured that I might need a more recent kernel and installing the kernel-latest package solved all my screen issues (I am still experiencing problems with suspend but this is another story).

See Redirecting… for info on kernel-latest.
Also note that I had to sudo qubes-dom0-update --action=remove kernel after I made sure everything was working as expected. Otherwise the next dom0 update might revert your system back to the old kernel.

Nope. Redshift works, running it 24/7. Maybe try ‘vidmode’ instead of ‘randr’? I use ‘randr’ though (both work). Tested with integrated Intel video and Nvidia discrete graphics on my Thinkpad P51 with R4.0.3

Unfortunately I know for a fact that a kernel upgrade will kill my suspension and hibernation, which is more important than redshift, so I’ll have to pass for now. Will keep this in mind though, thank you.

I tried doing redshift -m vidmode -O 3000 but this isn’t working either (other methods get stuck looking for ‘geoclue2’), but this might just be a kernel issue as noted by phl (I have an intel iGPU and a less powerful Nvidia on this laptop, but no clue how to choose which one. Currently on Nvidia (nouveau_modeset=0)).

Either way, since redshift would’ve just been a nice bonus and I don’t have the resources to deal with this now, I’ll revisit this later. Thanks, Sven.

What is the most secure method with zero chances of infecting dom0 to put custom wallpapers on laptop screen?

As far as I know the best way would be to open a browser in a disposableVM and search for your desired wallpaper. Either open it in a browser or some image viewer and go to fullscreen and then press the print button on your keyboard. Now you can save the screenshot somewhere in your documents or pictures folder (e.g. home/user/Pictures).

Via System Tools you should be able to select the wallpaper in your Desktop settings.


Load the image full screen, no title bar.
Take a screenshot


Did anybody manage to install a nice netload plugin for the xfce panel? Currently i have a bash script in a small terminal window in sys-net running which tells me the current network load each second, a graphical widget would be nice though.


Follow up: redshift works on Inspiron 5593 Qubes 4.1 without any configuration. It did not work on 4.0.3 on the same machine


I’m having an appearance issue. Whenever I use the anon-whonix qube the title on the window is unreadable like so:
I’ve tried going through different appearances to see if that would change the title but they don’t help much. I’ve also tried different window borders.

Can someone please tell me how I can just edit these fonts colors/title bar colors manually? I went into dom0 to look for .themes but couldn’t find it. Doing a find there didn’t get any results either.

1 Like