[qubes-users] Digital art & 3D modeling/animation inside of Windows VM on Qubes?

Hello everyone.

So, I am a person who is interested in both digital art and cybersecurity. I have been fascinated with the Qubes OS for quite sometime and, having already tried it out, I plan on switching over to it completely in the near future. The only reason why I have not so far is because of the compatibility issue that exists between Qubes and digital art software I use (much of which is only good for Mac and Windows.)

In the upcoming future I plan on obtaining a very powerful computer (24 core CPU and 64GB of RAM) and have thought about running Qubes on it. I have considered the possibility of creating one Windows 10 VM on it and using it solely for digital art. From what I have heard, however, installing Windows 10 in Qubes is quite difficult. In addition, even with the powerful hardware I possess, using software for digital illustration, 3D modeling/animation and game design will still most likely be a serious issue because of the nature of virtual machines. Then of course there is the whole issue of graphics cards and GPU pass-through with a VM.

I would still like to get anybody’s thoughts to help me in my consideration. Would it be good enough to simply create a Windows 10 VM and use all of my digital art stuff inside of it? Or would it be best to get an entirely separate machine for the creative stuff and leave Qubes for work/browsing? Any input would be much appreciated.

Lazy Lexicographer:

Hello everyone.

So, I am a person who is interested in both digital art and cybersecurity.
I have been fascinated with the Qubes OS for quite sometime and, having
already tried it out, I plan on switching over to it completely in the near
future. The only reason why I have not so far is because of the
compatibility issue that exists between Qubes and digital art software I
use (much of which is only good for Mac and Windows.)

In the upcoming future I plan on obtaining a very powerful computer (24
core CPU and 64GB of RAM) and have thought about running Qubes on it. I
have considered the possibility of creating one Windows 10 VM on it and
using it solely for digital art. From what I have heard, however,
installing Windows 10 in Qubes is quite difficult. In addition, even with
the powerful hardware I possess, using software for digital illustration,
3D modeling/animation and game design will still most likely be a serious
issue because of the nature of virtual machines. Then of course there is
the whole issue of graphics cards and GPU pass-through with a VM.

Neither is as individually hard as it used to be thanks to some
dedicated people. See
https://github.com/elliotkillick/qvm-create-windows-qube and
https://github.com/Qubes-Community/Contents/blob/master/docs/customization/windows-gaming-hvm.md.
The latter is for Windows 7; unknown if it will work with 10.

I would still like to get anybody's thoughts to help me in my
consideration. Would it be good enough to simply create a Windows 10 VM and
use all of my digital art stuff inside of it? Or would it be best to get an
entirely separate machine for the creative stuff and leave Qubes for
work/browsing? Any input would be much appreciated.

You could attempt Qubes + VM and see how it goes, but if you're doing
art for compensation of some type you should keep your old machine
around until you confirm the new setup works for you. It would be
easiest if you could switch to a Linux based art package, but they
probably aren't going to be as slick as proprietary ones. If Qubes + VM
doesn't work out, you could switch one system to Qubes for work and
other to proprietary.

Perhaps if you invested heavily in a large amount of RAM, you could consider loading your software and also the OS completely into RAM. Then you could have your OS and installed software on a read-only DVD for better security (to prevent to some degree malware from invading your set-up). Some info on why this may be good for security, can be accessed here. Doing this would potentially preempt the need to get your graphics software to work with Qubes, since the set-up could be secure enough for your purposes.

There used to be DOS software called something like ramdisk that allowed you to convert your RAM into a ‘virtual disk’…

In regard to buying a brand new machine, you could instead consider dual-booting with just your existing machine, in such a way that the less-secure system, is not able to corrupt the more-secure system, by using means such as digital/electrical/physical isolation. Some info on how you might be able to create such a set-up, can be accessed here.

If you are interested in cyber-security, it appears that at times using open-source software (such as maybe the open-source Blender software [which I think can be used for game design, 3D animation, etc.]) can offer security advantages over closed-source software. Some info on why this may be, can be accessed here.

Kind regards,

Mark Fernandes