Suggestion for the Installation Setup Process for Newbies Like Me

As a new user to both Qubes and Linux making the switch to Qubes has been difficult for me, but I still love using it and I want to get better and learn, it’s just something that has been surprisingly difficult for me to pick up on. I have a suggestion for the setup process of something that I think would be beneficial for a lot of newbies like myself that want to use qubes but are hesitant because of the learning curve. I think it would be beneficial if there was an application that was designed into Qubes OS that is basically an Setup Tutorial/Tips & Tricks/How-To application. Here’s what I envision:

  1. During the installation setup process after the basic installation has finished there should be an optional step that helps users setup a VPN and creates it for you, there can be a basic VPN and an Advanced VPN setup for those who have more specific needs, and an option that just says “Skip this Step” for those who want to do it on their own later. It appears to me, as an inexperienced user, that when I search the forums and guides that a lot of people in this more security focused community want to setup a VPN but have a lot of confusion and difficulty doing so, and I think it would save a lot of people the headache and time if it was added to the setup process as an optional feature designed to save a lot of time, headaches, and frustration with having to spend hours digging through the forums for a post that isn’t outdated and doesn’t involve finding the correct version of terminal commands and proper networking and tunneling information in a platform that is very decentralized between the forums, github, and and it’s just a very daunting task for someone like me that is already having to learn so much with everything else that’s going on in Qubes, and with Linux as someone who is coming from Windows and MacOS.

  2. Additionally, I think it would be helpful to have a Tutorial application that launches at login after a new installation that can be skipped for those that already know how to do everything, or that shows you the basics of how everything works for those who are new to Qubes OS: like the ins and outs of the basics of networking and applying it to qubes specifically, setting up your wifi connection, the basics of what xen hypervisor is and what it does for qubes, what domains are and how they work, the importance of not allowing your templates to ever be connected to a network, how to update your qubes and that you dont need to connect them to the internet because theres a special default-mgmt-dvm qube that will download the information and install the updates for you, how to download and install packages and what they are, what repos are how to add them and why they are important, setting up an offline password manager in your vault, how to move files between domains, how to verify signatures of programs and files to see if it’s been corrupted or tampered with in any way etc.

  3. I also think there should be an application built into qubes that is built into dom0 that has an up-to-date list of all of the commands with descriptions and information on how to use them and a search function where you can search keywords to find what you are looking for if you don’t already know the command. The forums and guides are often incorrect, outdated, or incomplete, as well as the --help command. It would make finding what you need easier. Right now if I search qubes commands it takes me to the command line tools doc link on the qubes website, but then I have to know whether what I need is going to be a dom0 or a domU command, and which one of the nine categories its going to fall into, and then I have to search through all of the sub-categories and go through all of those and hope I find what I need and that it is accurate, and sometimes you don’t necessarily know what you are looking for you just know what you need it to do for you.

I understand that the majority of users coming to QubesOS likely already have experience in Linux, but I think nowadays there are a lot more people looking to find more secure and privacy-focused options available to them, and they want to make the switch to an operating system like QubesOS, but the learning curve creates a huge divide and makes it difficult (which is no one’s fault). I also understand that the Qubes OS team is small and you only have so much time and resources to accomplish all of the needs and wishes for all of us who appreciate all of the time and effort into creating Qubes to begin with. However, I think that adding some of the features I mentioned could help bridge that divide and smooth the transition out a little.

Thank you for all of your hard work, and I hope this didn’t come across like one big complaint, I love qubes and I’m only giving my feedback and ideas because I enjoy using it and want to share any ideas I have that might help make it better, or even help spark other ideas from anyone else that might be beneficial for QubesOS.

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I think integrating a VPN setup in to the installation process isn’t likely to happen in the near future, and I think the issue you’ll run in to there is that non-technical new users wont be looking to immediately setup a VPN on first boot, but encouraging people to make better guides, and potentially someone who is a good communicator to create some tutorial videos may help. Micah Lee has a great guide that is simple ( I found) to follow on setting up a Qubes VPN via OPEN VPN.

I do like the idea of having tutorials that launch on installation to educate the user about basic functionalities and processes that can be skipped by those more familiar or confident with linux/qubes.

If my memory serves me right, someone had raised this in the last Qubes summit (i think that’s what it was called) very similar to what you suggested. Something like your first load of a video game that walks you through how to perform basic functions to help you arrive at a very basic level of competence would be a positive step I think, but I’m just not sure who is going to direct their attention to that in leiu of other more security focused projects.

Went & found this, and yes Deeplow had a great presentation:

““First Impressions Count: Onboarding Qubes Users Through an Integrated Tutorial” by deeplow”

Obviously I’m not a Qubes dev, but I thought your feedback and ideas were well thought out and a value add, even if they wont be taken on / implemented.

I have been dabbling in a “guided tutorial” for Qubes OS.

At this point in time, it’s essentially a bash script that utilises zenity to overlay dialog boxes onto the dom0 XFCE desktop and wmctrl to manipulate (position, move, resize, animate, etc.) them.

Dialog box in centre of screen: “Welcome to Qubes OS! You can advance the tutorial by pressing the “Next” button in the bottom-right corner of your screen.”

Dialog box in top-left of screen: “This is the Qube Menu (or Q-menu). This is where all your Qubes are located. Go ahead and click on it. Don’t be shy. It won’t bite.”

(user clicks on menu, tutorial advances)

Dialog box adjacent to Qube menu: “Qubes splits your computing into compartmentalised VMs. Go ahead and click on sys-net → Qube settings”

You get the idea :grin:

I got the idea from a piece of software that Apple created in the 80’s/90’s to teach users how to use a mouse:


The aim is to allow anyone to create their own “lessons”.

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Interesting! Good to have a suitable example to build off of. Perhaps in the installation options where ‘make sys-net disposable’ etc is, you can have an option for tutorial mode on startup, and experienced users will untick that as a part of their installation, as it’s probably better to have it enabled by default as inexperienced users will likely be afraid to touch anything apart from defaults.

Intro to Qubes manager, How to create and manage your Qubes, How to handle USB’s (sys-usb), How to install programs, how to manage templates (upgrade/update, install new ones), how to set-up an email-VM, how to set-up a VPN network VM,

Tutorials like that would do a lot to get people off on the right foot who may have a need for, or interest in Qubes, but aren’t quite motivated enough to read through a lot of documentation and trouble solve when their prior OS will appear a less frustrating alternative.

I do believe this will be an important step in the future to onboarding more people, and I’m not sure it would be measurable, but I’d be interested to know how many people install Qubes and then abandon it within their first 3 or 4 sessions with it.

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