When I first bought the Thinkpad T430, it was because I wanted a cheap laptop that I was sure wouldn’t give me any issues with qubes, and wouldn’t have wasted lots of money had I decided that qubes wasn’t for me. Since then I installed qubes with heads and after using it as my daily driver for a while now everything has been working great! However, the T430 is definitely showing its age and so I’m doing research on a more modern laptop. I like both the NS50 and NV41, and I’m probably going to go with one of those two in the end.
I use my laptop as a desktop computer 95% of the time, but I still want the portability that a laptop has which is why I don’t want a desktop. Because of this, the NV41 would’ve been my first choice due to its smaller form-factor. The only issue I have with it is that it doesn’t come in black (only grey). This is kind of more of an issue with me as it might seem to you, but I really wish it came in black. I know I can buy vinyl decals to change the color but I’d really rather not.
From what I can tell, the NS50 is pretty much the same as the NV41 except it’s in a different color and has a 15.6-inch screen rather than 14. My computer is either on or off, never in suspend so the s3 suspend resume problem on the ns50 is not an issue for me.
According to this I would be able to change the keyboard lighting on both. Also, according to the HCL reports both of the laptops have 3 usb controllers (please correct me if I am wrong), so there won’t be a problem with using an isolated usb keyboard qube.
Another great thing about the laptops is that they feature the power button on the side. Does anyone know if this means that I can power on the laptop without having to open the lid? I’ve always had my laptops on a vertical stand and hated having to lift it out, open the lid, and push the power button before placing it back just to turn it on. This way I can just press the power button without having to take the laptop out. Although if the NS50 and NV41 are built so that powering on isn’t possible while the lid is closed, I would have to take it apart to remove the magnetic switch that most laptops use to sense when they’re closed and hope I didn’t mess anything up.
I also want to buy the laptop from Nitrokey without the logo and just have a blank lcd back cover. Is this possible? These laptops come from the original manufacturer without any logos and there are other businesses offering these devices along with thier other variants with no logo or even allow you to have a custom-made one (but without qubes or heads). I don’t know if I can buy one from Nitrokey like this, but I’ll send them an email too. It seems I would be able to buy the back cover online and install it myself but I don’t want to do this. I broke the clips off of my old thinkpad taking it apart to flash the bios and had to buy a new casing for it. I don’t want that to happen on this new laptop.
I also wanted to know what the usage of the thunderbolt port was like in qubes, and what the hardware configuration of the usb controller responsible for the thunderbolt port was like on the NS50/NV41. I am assuming they would have the same configuration. I don’t like how I need to have multiple cables for my current setup. Right now I have the charging cable, a combined cable for keyboard and mouse, the display cable for the external monitor, and a short usb extension cable that I am using so the usb port on the laptop doesn’t wear out or get damaged. I know I would always need a separate usb controller for flash drives but it would be great if I could really just use one port for power, display, and input. The best-case scenario for this would be if qubes saw the display as separate from the input device. This way, I should have no problems using a usb keyboard vm while still being able to have the display output to my external monitor. However, I don’t think this is likely to be possible because of needing to pass the entire controller to the vm. I wanted to know for sure.
On the other hand, I am uncertain that a usb keyboard vm is even needed at all. I would not be using the thunderbolt port for anything else other than power, display, and input. Because a compromise of the usb keyboard vm is equivalent to a complete compromise of dom0 I think I should just be able to leave the thunderbolt port connected to dom0 without any loss of security, right? Again, I would need more information about how this controller is configured in the hardware to really know. If this controller is connected to additional ports it would also be something to consider.
So basically, what I wanted to know was:
- Can power on the NS50/NV41 without having to open the lid?
- Can I buy the NS50/NV41 from Nitrokey with a blank logo?
- What is the exact hardware configuration of the thunderbolt controller?
- Do I even need a separate, dedicated vm for input devices in my situation?
I would much appreciate it if anyone have more information about any of this. I’m also interested in hearing your thoughts too.