Hi, this is my second time attempting to install Qubes (the first one failed repeatedly a month ago so I gave up), and I wanted to provide some feedback from the perspective of a technical user (Linux since the 90s, Ubuntu as a daily driver for 3+ years, software developer).
I’ve installed Qubes on a ThinkPad X1C CORE i7, which I assume is supported hardware. I chose the option to create the USB qube under sys-net.
The first wall I ran into was this error during installation:
The second wall I ran into was that after rebooting and logging in, I couldn’t get online! I didn’t see anywhere in the system tray a or the XFCE menu a network/wifi icon or anything obvious to allow me to get online. This breaks several basic usability guidelines of the project - “Make it easy to discover features and available actions”, not “Require extensive configuration before a user can begin doing things” etc.
I think getting online is a critical path to most users, and an onboarding wizard would greatly help here. Reiterate to the user in the OS why dom0 must not have networking (mentioned in the Getting Started guide, which I did read), and show the user how to enable it in a specific qube (or in sys-net? I’m still confused at this point). Also, the guideline about not using acronyms should be taken heed in regards to “sys-net”. Can that be named something more user-friendly?
Anyway, I wasn’t alone in being unable to get online. Pages like this should not have a need to exist:
I can’t quite recall what I tried before discovering that guide, but I kept getting numerous persistent popups (4+ of them),
Qube Status: sys-net
Domain sys-net has failed to start: internal error: Unable to reset PCI device 0000:00:1f.6: internal error: Unale to reset PCI device 0000:00:14.0: no FLR. PM reset or bus reset available.
then another popup with pretty much the same error, but about
Talk about “Avoid Acronyms”, “Use Simple Words”, " Avoid Technical Words" and " Don’t Leave Users Stranded" :-/
I went to the sys-net Qubes Settings from the XFCE menu, and the Networking was set to “(none) current”. That seemed like the obvious issue, so I tried setting it to “default”, “sys-net” etc. Every time I did that, I got a
ERROR: Basic tab:
Loops in network are unsupported
Then I tried to follow that Bytefreaks guide, and it turns out it was written for an older version of Qubes. In the end I found out where the Applications tab was, and I added “Settings” there. I think Settings should be among the default shortcuts. However, clicking the XFCE menu → Service: sys-net → sys-net: Settings, does nothing (and BTW, there’s another usability guideline broken there, " Avoid Duplicate Words".
I still don’t know what exactly happened that let me go online, but now I see the red Network widget. I tried to take a screenshot by pressing PrintScreen. Saw an option to “Host on imgur”. How convenient! Except it didn’t work, “An error occurred while transferring the data to imgur”. Then I chose “Copy to the clipboard”. Good luck pasting that anywhere though (Discourse supports pasting images here, but the clipboard never contained the screenshot, no matter what combo of Ctrl+Shift+C/V I tried.
“Clipboard fetched from vm sys-net… Copied 0 bytes to the clipboard”
I ended up taking a photo with my phone, and opening Google Photos in the Personal cube. I still wasn’t able to copy the image from that cube into this one; I could only copy its Google Photos long URL (~700 characters), which I managed to paste here, copy the image, then paste it in the Discourse tab.
[Discourse bans me from uploading more than one media item in my first post, so I’ll add that screenshot to a separate post]
TL;DR - doing basic tasks with Qubes has been a very frustrating experience so far:
- no welcome wizard (the one from Mint is good inspiration)
- no help from the OS to get online
- cryptic network errors, even though WiFi did work without running any terminal commands to configure it
- Settings for the qubes not easily accessible
- copy/pasting images across qubes apparently impossible
- hosting screenshots on Imgur broken
- no shortcut key to take a screenshot of an area of the screen (I tired Shift/Ctrl/Alt+PrtSc combinations, it seems only screenshotting the entire screen is possible
- XFCE is really barebones - no search, mouse cursor doesn’t shape when hovering over links in Firefox etc.; but I understand this is due to be replaced by GNOME. Ideally, I’d want to see an option during installation to select the DE - I’d want KDE for example.
- confusing XFCE menu - I see “Domain: vault → vault: Firefox”. OK, I get that. But what’s “Template: debian 10 → debian 10: Firefox ESR”? Does it start a disposable new Qube and launch Firefox? Can all those templates be organized under “Start new qube”?
- outdated out of the box - I clicked Template: fedora-30 → fedora30: Software. Big red scary error that “Fedora 30 is no longer supported”.
I haven’t even tried doing anything productive yet; I’ve been fighting with the OS for the past couple hours, so expect more feedback