Feature request: display current domain

As other xen based OS’s have, can we please have (at least the option) to have a current domain bar fixed above all else.

As previously asked, could the borders and appvm color have more options - i…e a dashed option or a pattern option.

I know this is not security or major bug, but it is realtively small feature that would make a massive difference.

Even with separate colors, (though there aren’t enough, and distinctive pattern option to upload custom would be better), it is not always clear which window has focus.

I have added a poll, as I believe I am not the only one who wants this feature urgently.

How useful would you find this feature?
  • Very - need it ASAP
  • Somewhat
  • Negligible/Not at all

0 voters

I dont know how to vote by email - for me, “Not at all”.
In any case, does not the Window Manager show you which window has focus?

If you have multiple windows from different domains in one workspace it easily becomes unclear when trying to switch betwen them.

Current windo focus of application below is not enough because it only shows colour. Further, when starting new domains or apps with windows popping up your focus isn’t on the taskbar.

The option to have the current domain in focus on a clear bar pinned to the top of the workspace (or movable, as is the current taskbar), would eliminate this problem. SecureView and co. all have this enabled by default.

Could you please drop some screenshot or a movie example?

I have never had this problem.
I will check sometimes (e.g. when pasting) what a window relates to the qube
I think it is. Having some extra colour display would not help.

I wouldn’t say this is Qubes exclusively, but rather general issue with all OSs. But, we can make different windows to automatically go to specific workspaces.

The post talks about the lack of indicator of which AppVM is taking focus, if I understand it right.
IMHO Qubes OS has much more problems in GUI focus management than what this post has mentioned. I can list at least two of them.

  1. One VM can easily take away focus from another VM without user intervention, by popping a window. There are some alternate implementation in order to avoid a window from being unfocused - for example, when another window wants to get focus, it blinks its border or its bar on the screen-top panel, so that it can express that it wants attention, without taking away focus from another window immediately. Just like some window can blink itself in Windows XP (Actually I suspect Win7+ has this functionality). Does Xfce4 support blinking window whenever needed?
  2. Dom0 often disagrees with AppVM on which window exactly has focus, or which windows are on the top. Even when AppVM A has focus now, which window of AppVM A takes the focus is a different question. Sometimes it seems that I am operating on one window, but actually another window in the same VM eats away all the operations (keyboard, mouse, etc) and what I does not expect happens, confusing and annoying me. I have experienced such confusion ever since I start using R3.2 and until now R4.1, and it does not seems to have any solution or improvement.

The problem about ambiguity of focusing should be discussed more thoroughly.

Hence my point.
SecureView which is the NSA/USAF Qubes has addressed this issue by explicitly displaying a bar at the top of the display over all else, with the domain name colour/pattern and name.
They also have more than just colour options. Domains can have a colour with a pattern (dashes/stripes repeating on a colour), to make distinction between domains clearer. The domain name is also more clearly displayed around the domain window. Whereas qith qubes I find the text to be small and because the domain name is after the appicon it is not that clear.

If there is disagreement here, surely there should at-least be the OPTION to increase visibility/clarity.

These are not Qubes OS features/issues, but configuration details of your desktop environment (e.g. XFCE).

Please dive into Settings | Window Manager Tweaks | Focus to customize the behavior you desire.

  • Personally I have found the “B5” style for the window borders to give me the clearest impression.
  • I set my focus management to always focus the window under my mouse cursor. This way I have a visual indication where the focus is at all times (… where the mouse cursor is)
  • You can setup one workspace per domain, give it a background (color) that identifies the domain and use tools like devilspie2 under XFCE or KDE’s built in Activities to make sure windows of a specific qube always appear on a specific workspace/activity

Bottom-line: while Qubes OS might not behave the way you want by default, it can easily be configured to behave that way.

Regarding your display bar idea:

window_id=`xdotool getwindowfocus`
qube_name=`xprop _QUBES_VMNAME -id $window_id | cut -f2 -d\"`

This will give you the qube_name that currently has focus. One can easily imagine a script polling this every second or so and displaying the result prominently somewhere.

I am not arguing against your proposal, but aim to give you the tools to have your desired behavior now.


I’d tweaked before, but thankful for the reminder as I’ve just changed the style again, but more importantly increased the font size so the current domain is clear.

Part of the problem is as I say that the colour/border differentiation could be clearer - this is exarcebarted greatly by the fact that the [DOMAIN] is one concatenated sentence with the app title
[WORK] Display Current Domain - General Discussion - Qubes Os Forum - Google Chrome

If you’ve got multiple disps, multiple terminals some are same colour it can be easy to ignore the [WORK] element.

Easier still when the application taskbar below doesn\t have the domain, just the ‘dislay current domain…’ app text. So you only see the colour of the domain as indicator.
For multiple terminals, and particularly a problem for dispVMs, you just see ‘Terminal’.

I’d like the option to have the theme make the app bar display a second row above the app text and app icon, clearly with the domain name. NO such theme or taskbar tweak offers this afaik.

For anybody interested in improvements:
Window Manager → Style → ‘Default HDPI’

Title alignment - center
Font size - 17 (choose a bold font)

Window Manager Tweaks → Compositor
‘enable display compositing’
Set ‘opacity of inactive windows’ to about 30%
Leave all other at fully 100% opaque.

Dom0 has no such property _QUBES_VMNAME, (at-least when the command is executed in dom0 as sys-gui), instead the property is _WM_CLIENT_MACHINE