Look, a while ago I posted a long thing in GitHub, about why many folks—especially women—are uncomfortable asking for help in community support forums.
I learned how to work on motorcycles many years ago, because I really wanted to race but could not afford a mechanic (or even my own bike, or even a “whole” bike in one piece from the same sponsor). So, per the above mental model you cite, I knew there was a lot I would need to learn. I prepared for that; and expected that my ability to succeed would be a never-ending journey dependent on my ability to listen and learn, more than anything else. Because I was poor and lacked resources.
Mental models are everything. Especially with Qubes.
Not all of the people using Qubes are desiring to use it because they cannot afford “something better” (BIG air-quotes there). They come to Qubes, because it is known to be the best for safety and security. So, they come into using Qubes, expecting the resources and systems to be in place that would exist from a Mac or a Windows machine, out of simple naivete. Not arrogance.
You don’t “buy” MacOS. It just comes with your $4k laptop. Same, with Windows. Same, with Google and Facebook; they sell your data. We know none of them are “free.” So, naivete, not arrogance. At the same time, they also wouldn’t be coming to use Qubes were there not safety or security risks at hand that they need to mitigate. Yes, in the US, “Safety” and “Security” are absolutely sold as guaranteed products with price tags and smiling White middle-class families with 2.5 children shown in pictures as proof that those products work… and security dorks and infosec professionals know that’s just opportunistic Capitalists selling false promises.
For many non-technical users just getting hip to security concepts and Qubes, they are likely just at the point of accepting that the smiling White family “security system” is bogus, and that Windows and Facebook etc have backdoor access as a hidden cost—but not much more.
No, I am not asking that we “pander” to disrespectful users, but I am asking that we treat those new to Qubes as one might treat followers of a cult looking to integrate with society at-large after being isolated in their cult for too long. To not presume these folks understand how FOSS ecosystems work, or that folks understand most of everything is made possible by volunteers.
Open Source IS a learning curve, and these days I trust things that come from community forums and stack exchange, far more than I trust shit from a corporate website. I’m also an anarchist, and it took my experiences working in the tech industry for me to develop that skepticism and comfort with something so different.
Qubes OS is a community project. I am not its decider of which users are targeted. I am only advocating for folks new to FOSS, and looking to use Qubes OS for reasons outside of limited financial resources; reasons that then have them missing that mental-model reset to be resourceful, and also needing to establish for themselves what that might look like—before diving in. Even for folks with limited financial resources, I’d still like the shift into a FOSS product experience to be smooth and filled with more opportunities than roadblocks. I want more people wanting to use FOSS products, and wanting to learn.
I have also gotten a not-insignificant number of emails, asking “Why can’t you guys just prioritize UX more” or “Why can’t you do this” or “Why can’t you do that.” I honestly do not believe those people would even be wasting their time to write to anybody with those, if they really believed there were a single-digit number of paid resources, with a smaller number of paid full-time resources, and a small army of volunteers, tasked with making this multi-device operating system possible at all. Tech has gotten SO MUCH sleazy venture capital piped into it, that it is surprising for a lot of people to see a product with such a need as Qubes obviously has, not exploding with dollars at the seams. I would wonder that, too, if I weren’t familiar enough with VC to know how quickly VCs destroy projects.
So, am I advocating we spoon feed people? No. Am I advocating we provide clear paths to people who’ve been trained to expect a very different product experience, because their privilege and life context until coming into Qubes have trained them to expect something different? Yes.
People don’t know they need to “do a little work,” until we’ve told them that. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to help them get going with Qubes a bit, to see a plausible path forward—vs a giant cultural wall that may feel in-surmountable to climb, at first. That’s what the HCL table w/o a few little “Here’s some off-the-shelf options” is likely to be, to many.