Qubes suggestions from a new user

Hi. I am new user of qubes. I have been using the OS for about 3 weeks now.

I have previously used Debian Linux for around 3 years prior to starting on qubes.

The initial 30 mins for me was somewhat overwhelming but everything after this time period I picked up very easily. From what I can see it’s a fedora operating system with a Xfce GUI with multiple vms to compartmentalize certain features of the operating system i.e networking i.e firewall all built into the main start bar for easy access to vm’s but overall managed through the qubes manager. As well as app vms and disposable vms for certain needs.,

So far I am so happy to make the change. I have bought specific hardware for it to run very well and recognizes my 2 CPUs out of the box without having to rebuild the kernel. However, there are 1 or 2 things I feel could be improved.

My suggestions for the OS :
although the colour coding for certain vms or trust levels is useful I feel the start menu is somewhat disorganized. When a new VM is created its just simply bundled into a big list in the start menu. For which yes makes it easily accessible without going into the qubes manager. But in terms of organization i dont feel is sufficient.

For example I might have particular set of vms that all fall under one project but the way qubes is set up it doesn’t allow me to group these together under a specific folder or grouping. Instead, my one VM from one project could be listed next to another VM from a totally separate project when listed in the start menu which i don’t like because I feel its disorganized. Take for example virtual box although it doesn’t compare to qubes in terms of security secondly only being software not a complete operating system it allowed creating a VM folder which made organization incredibly easy, .

Secondly The ability to name work spaces like in mate (reflected on the GUI) . I can see there is an ability to name a work space but i don’t see the ability to reflect the name on GUI of the desktop. How are you suppose to know which workspace is which if its not reflected ?

Thirdly along the application task bar along the top. The application space shows a brief description of what is happening in the VM. I think it would be better if the name of the VM was provided in this space. As that means the user doesn’t have to click the application / VM to find out what VM is being used. Sure they could look at the colour but if there have several vms under that same colour then they would need to check through them anyway. I don’t feel this is efficient as if the name of the vm was displayed it could be rapidly sorted into work spaces. again which would be made even easier if the workspace name was displayed on the gui and not just in the settings or by hovering the mouse over it .

Again just suggestions. i really like everything this OS has achieved in terms of security and a hardened operating system and will definitely continue using it … but i feel with high number of vms it is not easily organized .

Hi @d16-user, welcome to Qubes!

A lot of the things you bring up are being worked on as we speak :slight_smile:

Qubes Menu Suggestion

Being worked on:

While that’s not done you can replace it right now with whisker menu (which looks nicer in my opinion and has a search functionality). See a related thread here. It looks like this:

This was also my suggestion, but it seems there is some other ideas on why this is not such a great idea.

Naming Workspaces

I don’t fully understand. Can you explain a bit more or provide a screenshot of that functionality in Mate?

This may be somehow related.

AppVM’s name on Window Bar

The VM’s name is already provided like [work] some window title at the top. So I don’t understand what you are referring to.

In general the coloring issue is a hard topic, especially because it touches the liminations of the human cognition. Here are some related discussions that might interest you:

See the following:

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Hi @d16-user

Some workarounds:

  1. add your preferred menu shortcuts in the task bar (task bar, right click, Panel, add new items, Launcher). Then edit the added empty launcher (right click on it, properties, +, and choose a menu entry)
  2. as above add a Launcher, and inside the Launcher add multiple entries, this create a group of applications
  3. Did you try the Whisker menu? Mapped on the Windows key shortcut, it becomes very easy to launch an item from the menu list : Win+some characters of your requested application/VM. (see the desktop-customization-xfce thread)
  4. Edit/Generate your own structured menu (see in ~/.local/share)

You’re right.

Some workarounds:

  1. name your workspaces, when you move your cursor on a workspace a tooltip display its name. I know it’s far from your wishes.
  2. In workspace properties (right click, Properties), disable the Show Miniature View checkbox. You get the workspace names, but no more the small windows… Sic.

Search in the Xfce key shortcuts, may be one display all workspaces with their name (maybe…), something near from Alt-Tab / Ctrl-Tab visual.

Is Ctrl-Tab or Alt-Tab more usefull than clicking on the application space in the task bar? Maybe not, it’s a personal preference…

In general, search in XFCE doc, a lot of possibilities are available.


Switch to KDE - then it’s trivial to organise the menu as you will -
organise groups of qubes together, or better - organise applications
from grouped qubes in to single menu folder, and lose the qubes from the

Use KDE Activities - you then have named workspaces that you can colour
code by background, so you always know where you are.
You can force windows from specific qubes to appear on a specific
Activity, so minimising the risk of mistakenly bleeding information
between qubes.

In KDE the qube name is shown on the panel, along with the description.

In my opinion, KDE is far better for working in Qubes than Xfce, and,
of course, it looks much better.
And, KDE makes working with keyboard shortcuts so much easier.
Why not give it a go?

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@unman any updated information on how to do this?
Previously you just had to do “sudo qubes-dom0-update @kde-desktop-qubes
When doing that on 4.1 it downloads the packages, but then just quits with “Module or Group ‘kde-desktop-qubes’ is not available.”

Hi friend i am the original poster of this post. unfortunately while messing about with vms i lost the account login for my old forum account. so i will reply here…

Naming Workspaces

Basically on the mate operating system it has a work space utility the same as xfce but gives an option to display the workspace name on the workspace itself. So on desktop without clicking anything you can see which workspace with there names presented inside the workspace box, . I have tried to go on google to get an exact image of this setup but i can only find the option which enables what i am talking about… once i have 5 mins to setup a mate virtual machine i can screenshot it exactly but i am hoping you can figure out what i am talking about for the attached picture 4a51ead18693b1f25aa7b65463a163ebf8fa6417

second option from the bottom ^^ is the option that enables it

In reply to your comment :

The VM’s name is already provided like [work] some window title at the top. So I don’t understand what you are referring to.

Like for example i am browsing this forum right now., and the reference in the application bar seems to indicate which ever tab is selected in the vm ( using Firefox ) . so without clicking the application and checking the vm name ( from the window ) that is responsible for it there is no way to quickly distinguish which vm is responsible for that application . i think it should display the name of the vm and the application in the application menu without having to click the application and check the window.

Another example i have kleopatra installed which i have launched… but in the application menu ( along the top of the desktop ) the name kleopatra is next to a padlock off whatever colour i have given that particular vm but no reference to name of the vm without actually clicking it and checking the window.

So if i had several vms which all shared the same colour for whatever reason and was running the same application for whatever reason . I would have to click each application and check the window to get the name of the responsible vm as its not provided next to the application name in the application bar.

I hope you can understand what i mean . kind regards d16-user

HI friend. i did actually try to install kde a little while back and my os stopped booting after the restarting

I might try again but i don’t want to toast my qubes installation .

i had problems with kde when i tried to install it . i think a different problem to you but i couldn’t get it workibng

Since the menu is in alphabetical order, you can use a common prefix for related VMs. Ex: personal, personal-vault, personal-webdev

In xfce4, you can set a different wallpaper for each workspace in System Tools > Desktop. So you can create custom wallpapers containing the name of the workspace.

As mentioned by the other posters, the name of the VM already appears in each window title bar.

I see what you mean. It’s really complicated to get this right because of the cognitive limitations of humans. Even if you write there the name of the applications, us humans may not notice.

If I were you I’d follow @unman’s approach and try out KDE for you particular situation (but I haven’t used it sinece it was the default on Qubes, way back when)

Understandable, but I don’t see how a desktop environment could prevent a boot. The login screen should show up before the DE gets loaded (I think). May be worth a try or have a new thread for understanding what’s the problem, if you’re willing to risk.

In reply too : As mentioned by the other posters, the name of the VM already appears in each window title bar.

yes i understand that completely. the title bar provides the name of the vm but if your running high number of vms with similar or the same applications. does it really make sense to click and check the title bar for each application just to find out what vm is being used ? Tedious if you ask me .

Kind regards d16-user.

I think in this case the best solution is to have different colors. So I guess one should aim at having at least different colors in the most often used VMs where we run the same applications.

Otherwise it’s too much effort and one will never do it, thus harming security. This problem is has half a research field dedicated to it (security indicators).

p.s. @d16_user, you can quote by highlighting the test that you want to reply to and clicking on “Quote”. Discord is pretty nice in this regard