A follow up from my previous post in this thread.
While Free software and proprietary software are usually at odds, and while Qubes and Mac would seem to be at odds, what Qubes and Mac can symbolize for people is very similar. In other words, people who use only Free software are behaving towards technology in the same underlying manner that people who don’t care about Free software behave towards technology.
For example, at the extremes of Free software advocacy, you’ll find those who only use 100% free software. They’ll get a computer with no Intel ME, flash Libreboot, and install a GNU approved OS. This “software purity” (emplified by the “Purism” company and their literal “PureOS”) is the same type of purity with which Mac users conceive of themselves in relation to Windows, and with which iOS users conceive of themselves in relation to Android.
We all know the stereotypes and memes. Macs are sleek, thin, without bloatware— clean. Windows is non-intuitive, operates on cathode-ray tube monitors, and is filled with bloatware— dirty. The same goes for iOS vs Android, and I would include PC vs xBox.
The stereotype (somewhat real, because Macs are less bloated), of Mac users’ purity is rooted in the same phenomenon that gives rise to the meme of Arch users’ purity, where Arch can become so pure due to the high level of control that users have over their system, where Arch users can remove anything they don’t like and that they don’t control. And just like Mac has Windows, Arch has Ubuntu, the bloated, normie, corporate distro tainted by Amazon.
Qubes already mimics the intense need for technological purity and control which Arch, Mac, and 100% Free users enjoy (nothing wrong with this at all, by the way). Qubes offers fine grained control over your apps, and is built upon the delight of modern consumers: a customizable, neatly packaged, compartmentalized workflow. Qubes also is very clean: templates remain untouched, as well as dom0, with the dirty things left to DispVMs, so ephemeral that they can be deleted with one click.
If need for control and purity leads people to technologies— like Mac, but also to things like voice assistants, which allegedly offer micromanagement capabilities, and micro-fiber cloths to prevent people feeling repulsed at a dusty screen— then the big question becomes, how do you get people to shift the things that they symbolize as pure? If we can shift people’s ideal of purity from the expensive, thin-bezelled, always-connected modern smartphone to the open, (relatively) minimalist, user-controlled distro, then GNU/Linux and Qubes OS would see more widespread adoption, because modern culture and modern people rely on the pure/dirty dichotomy (see: racism; rich and dirty cities; the poorer classes doing the literal “dirty work”; the gold toilet), and if their ideal of purity shifted to Qubes, they would follow it to Qubes.
My own experience with this shift from enjoying Mac to becoming disgusted with “proprietary trash” arose out of my becoming more aware about all the privacy invasions and horrible security in current technology. Crucial to my shift in symbols of purity was my anger at the institutions who created this technology and my anger at my inability to do anything meaningful about it.
So a longer-term process for getting people to use Linux and then Qubes would be to reveal to them things that would make them angry about modern technology. This would differ for each person, but it would be good to come up with an average list of things, like many of the security gaps found in normal OSes as mentioned in this thread.
Getting people to use Linux thus wouldn’t be an elevator pitch, but more like a moving airport carpet pitch. It would take a while, and you’d want to introduce people to the privacy violations, BadUSB mods, and other dangers of modern technology in a steady enough stream to keep slowly developing their anger. Most of us love technology, so people will not realize their anger consciously at first. But find something that someone really cares about, and they will get angry enough. My privacy journey started when I was shocked by the fact that the New York Times was able to buy location data of the President, and track him very precisely through Mar-a-Lago. Regardless of politics, this should not be allowed to happen, but especially not for average citizens. Someone’s newfound anger probably won’t manifest very directly, but will remain underlying. Once a person is angry enough, and will thus seek control, one needs to introduce them to Linux, Free software, and Qubes, showing them how these tools help solve the dangers of proprietary software.
In sum, modern technology is heavily tied to symbols of purity vs dirt. If you can switch people to symbols of purity that revolve around Free software, the GNU ecosystem, etc— by making them sufficiently angry about a (proprietary) technology problem that is solved by the Free ecosystem— then they will inevitably move towards using GNU/Linux distros.