Just Another Qubes Airport Thread

I have to travel to the US in a couple of months for an event.

This was pretty straight forward, I thought, until I fell into the rabbit hole of threads about how to bring Qubes through customs. Now, even though I don’t think there will be any reason why my machine should be looked at in detail at the border, I’m starting to rethink this, given the nature of the event that I will be speaking at [although, on any realistic assessment, Covid is probably the biggest risk that I’m facing].

I don’t need access to Qubes while I am away, or at least, I don’t expect to. I only need to bring a handful of files with me.

I’m assuming that a clean SSD with Win10 and the files I need will be fine? Then reformat the SSD once home, remove it, and put back in my normal Qubes SSD? Someone referenced an old blog post by Joanna on this topic but all I seem to be able to find is threads here about the perils of international travel. I don’t want to go to the hassle of buying a ‘travel machine’ that will sit on a desk for 11 months of the year.

Seems reasonable. If they remove the machine from your view, you can still consider to buy a new one afterwards.

The last time I was at an US airport they had a very thorough look at my books. I asked why and the guy plainly told me that it “is uncommon to see people travel with books nowadays”… ^^


I never had my laptop being “looked at” when I was traveling through the EU airports. At most, I have to take out all my electronics from my backpack and move my electronic devices through the regular X-ray devices in a plastic bowl of their own.
But I never get them commanding me to turn on my electronic devices and show them my files or whatever.
Do people really undergo such a thing in the US?

In short, yes.
If there is something on your file that has sparked interest, the customs security people will go through your bags and tech in detail.

There are ‘rumours’ about them being able to drop malware and the like on your device very quickly, I am not so sure about this.

With the exception of Israel (where at least there is a more straight forward procedure), it can be one of the more stressful border crossings.

That sounds horrible. I do not know how US citizens can stomach such a treatment—given their prideful advertisement of themselves as the “most free country.”

Different for US citizens, I think. They have the full protection of the US Constitution. Visitors don’t.

1 Like

Ah, sorry then. I misinterpreted your scenario.
Anyways, I wish to not further derail your thread.

Note that

the other system could infect the BIOS firmware, which might enable compromise or spying on the Qubes system. (Quote from here.)

[never mind, potential thread derailment]