Improving Qubes UX: devices widget

Hi all!
I’m new on this forum, but not new to Qubes team (marmarta @ github ); I’m working on slowly making Qubes more human-usable, and now I’m gathering information to start my next big project: making the Devices widget better. And to make it better, I need to know how it sucks :slight_smile: So please, tell me how the devices widget and the whole process of handling devices in Qubes annoys you, what is terrible, what needs far too many clicks or manual dexterity, in general: what is annoying from usability perspective when dealing with attaching/detaching/manipulating devices in Qubes?

This is not a question about technical/security issues - those have their own important place in issues and this forum itself. I’m more interested in “how to make it pleasant” at this moment :slight_smile:


Hi @marmarta, it’d be nice if the menu had a ‘recent’ functionality. There are some devices that I almost always connect to the same target.

Like my eReader to the qube that runs calibre, or my DeskJet to the named offline dispvm. If the menu could remember the last 3-5 connections it could safe clicks and cognitive cycles to be able to just do the same thing again in one click.


I would suggest maybe an option during install for something like “easy device management”. Coming from windows I just assumed that clicking the device and adding it to a vm would make it just work but oh no haha. I mean why would I be adding it to a vm if I didnt want to mount it?

Also it would be nice if it would automatically create the files and crap needed to mount a device. Or at least something could be added in the getting started documentation because the entire mounting process on qubes is alien to probably 99% of people that use computers.

Maybe devices could just work automatically but would need explicit permission to get out of read only mode or something like that. Honestly it all just leaves me wondering if I am stupid and cant get it to work or if my install is broken and it is impossible to get it to work. Seeing as how I have no way to know what to even expect its pretty difficult to know when something is bugged out or I just dont know what I am doing.

Great topic!
What I think I’d like to see is:

  1. Favorites, not “recents”.
  2. Context menu enabled on all items.
  3. Considering previous, some kind of: “Attach persistent to / Detach from qubeXXX next time qubeXXX started” options (obviously for non-unnamed qubes)
  4. Possibility to sort by name / attached or not and whatnot
  5. Attached devices to be in non-white/black color.

All of these are purely brainstormed. in general, I don’t mind it at all as it is - like it.

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Hi @marmarta! Welcome to the forum!

There’s this thing I’ve been meaning to do since the summit, but my main dev machine broke (the one with dom0 internet access for easy development) and so I never got around to doing it. So if it makes sense for you, feel free to take it:

To save some RAM, sometimes I have to shut down sys-usb. So when I want to attach my webcam I go to the Qubes-devices and then notice sys-usb is offline. Then I have to go to the menu and start it, which is annoying. But it would be much more convenient if I could just have a button saying start sys-usb to list more devices.

It would be something like this:


There may be cases where there are multiple sys-usb, so Marek hinted that sudo qubesctl grains.items could be used to see the which PCI devices are USB hubs and then cross-reference with qvm-pci data to know which qubes have them.


Hi @marmarta, thanks for all of your UX work, which is much appreciated! Here’s my small sugestion…

Detaching a usb drive first requires unmounting the drive from within the vm. Since I occasionally forget this step, it would be nice to have a warning in the device widget whenever the drive is still mounted in the vm.

@marmarta if you want me to pin this topic for a bit so it’s more visible, let me know.