Tutorial: Installing Software in Template (practical example)

Continuing the discussion from Installing software in templates:

A very important step in using Qubes is being able to install applications on your qubes. Installing software in a template, is generally the normal way of doing it.

You should always look on the official documentation first. How to install software | Qubes OS I’ll give a particular example, following the instructions on the documentation.

Background reading on package managers


This is a big question. Most qubes (which are just virtual machines under the hood) are running linux. Or rather a flavor of linux (fedora, debian, etc.).

Just like on MacOS or Windows you can install software by downloading from the developer’s website, generally the safest way is to find it on the App Store / Microsoft store. Easy central way of finding software.

On Linux, that’s pretty much the same thing. That “store” is called the package manager. There are some graphical user interfaces (GUIs) but these don’t work under Qubes since they require an internet connection. So the only way to install software in templates is by using the terminal.

Practical example

Goal: install a music player on personal qube

  1. I learn about the template on which the personal qube is based by going to the qubes’s settings. I learn its template is fedora-34.

  2. I search online for “best music player for fedora” to find a piece of software that’s already shipped for fedora (in it’s “app store”). I found the software clementine works there.

    There I look for the installation command that should look like

    sudo dnf install clementine

    What I wanted to find is really the package name clementine.

  3. I follow the instructions from the documentation:

    1. I open the gnome-terminal application from the fedora-34 template qube. (a terminal window will pop up)

    2. I type sudo dnf install clementine

    3. I shut down the fedora-34 template, with the command sudo shutdown, for example.

    4. I shut down the personal qube if it was already running (so it can get the freshly installed clementine player from the fedora-34)

    5. I add the clementine application to the personal qube - follow the step 6 in the documentation

      This is needed because even though you installed clementine for the template, you probably won’t want to see the audio player now listed on all the qubes based on that template (work, unstrusted, etc.)

  4. Start clementine on your personal qube by clicking on the app menu » personal » clementine

  5. :partying_face: it should open clementine!

What if the software is not available?

Good question. If the software is not available in the package manager / app store of the template, you need to look into other ways. See the following resource: