Why hasn't "Qubes way" become standard?

I didn’t say they can’t benefit from Qubes OS, but not everyone needs Qubes OS.

If you are not getting targeted by skilled attackers, and just need to worry about malware, you can just use an immutable OS with basic sandboxing.

If someone asks which car is good for picking up groceries, you probably also doesn’t tell them to get a tank, not unless they are living in an active warzone.


There are some specific people out there who actively resist learning about computers for whatever reason. The response I’ve seen typically is playing helpless in various forms, but I’m sure there’s other responses to learning opportunities. In one case, even knowing which cable to plug in where can be a challenge, because the person refused to learn what shapes various ports are, and what they’re named.

Given that user caricature, we can make a statement about the size of Qubes’ audience: If Qubes requires any amount of learning/training/background knowledge to use, there will be people it is not a good fit for. The more learning/training you have to do in order for Qubes to be useful, the smaller the group of people who can use Qubes.

We can add precision to that idea: If using Qubes requires strictly more knowledge than using Linux (ie, anything you can know about using Linux is just as relevant/just as required/just as useful while using Qubes), then the people who can use Qubes will be a strict subset of the people who can use Linux.

With that chain in place, there’s now a couple of ways to counter the impact of the above. Unfortunately, I don’t know if any of those counters are true, so I’ll let the people who know better than I do mention them instead.

So that’s the barriers to entry. Does an outsider who doesn’t understand security understand what the benefits are to using Qubes? If not, or they only perceive minimal gain, why would they work through the barriers to entry?

Without a good answer to those questions being commonly known, the best we can do (as far as I know) is figure out how to remix flatpak to use podman containers, or train systemd to namespace/containerize services by default.

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I came up with an aphorism a few days ago:

“If you know computers fairly well, I cannot recommend Qubes enough. If you don’t know computers, I cannot recommend Qubes.”

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…no tank for you!

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Yes and yes

Of course not.

Ahah @renehoj and @Sven, had a good laugh with your unexpected tank replies ! ^^ Now I’m pwned, how do I reply …

I know Qubes is not adapted to everyone yet. But all my point is in this little “yet” !
As mentioned above, at some point a lot of IT stuff wasn’t for everyone, yet nowadays almost everyone on the planet is using the smallest of its form everyday (or every minute, but I digress) ! Another ref: remember the IBM manager saying something like “why would normal people need/use a computer at home ?!”.

Ok, Rome wasn’t built in one day, but maybe there should be 2 or 3 Qubes flavors to help adoption ?

  • the “raw/base” flavor, which is the current Qubes version
  • the “user ready” flavor, which could come with various pre-installed qubes, covering the most “normal” use cases, with user qubes and most used SW with shortcuts and stuff
  • and most importantly to overcome the HW barrier, a Live version to test the HW before installing ? Note that it’s also an appeal to motivated users to resuscitate this. I may be interested, but it’s a bit daunting (Slax once had good guides explaining in detail how it works).

I know, this would be even more work …

(PS Sven, thx for your answers, I’d like to know more but that would be a little offtopic)

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I don’t know if you need 2-3 different version.

The single biggest issue I had when I started using Qubes OS was the themes, I understand why the color coding is used, but the borders make the UI look so ugly.

You can change the theme, but you need to do it in both dom0 and the domUs, I probably spend 2 days getting the UI to a point where it “felt like home”.

If there was a “Qubes OS for casuals” with some clean preinstalled themes and few UI tweeks, it could probably improve the first impression.

Here you see how different tastes may be, probably caused by previous experience: I come from a Windows environment and still sometimes have to do with the borderless windows that Microsoft finds so good for Windows 10. So, for me, the window borders in Qubes are quite a help to distinguish windows placed one over the other, whereas, in Windows 10, you often don’t know which content belongs to which window - which just leads to confusion.

Having the possibility to change the themes according to one’s preference is a big help in Qubes. In Microsft Windows, you just have to swallow what Microsoft finds good, and you just wonder why your stomach hurts so much. :nauseated_face:

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I color my windows by changing the color of the theme, I do this for the GTK theme and the terminal.

The signal value is a lot weaker than the standard Qubes OS borders, and I’m not trying to say the standard borders should be removed, it should be an additional option.

It could be possible to make a theme that allows users to have a desktop that looks more like a traditional Linux desktop, and still use the Qubes OS domian color coding. For casual users trying Qubes OS for the first time, it could make the desktop more inviting.


This may be teaching users the wrong hint but if this is the “make it or break it” for some to use Qubes, then it’s not a bad thing. Better than no compartmentalization at all?


I am in the process of installing it. It took me a lot of time to disable and enable various bios settlings to be able to even run the installer (see my post, and the issue that was pointed out to me by another user). It’s hard to even install it.

Then, there are usability problems: limited hardware support, limited battery life, CPU and RAM intensive, not taking advantage of GPUs and in fact having problems with GPUs and tasks that take advantage of discrete GPUs.

Of course each individual has there own “use case,” and one respects that, but it does seem the general user population has rather low expectations, and/or awareness, of the benefits of a more secure and private digital life.

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And that must change, don’t you think ? How, I dunno ^^
It’s the forever problem of security vs usability. But to me, Qubes is the step forward, as it improves both at the same time.

Reading this forum, I think the biggest problem with Qubes is the hardware used ; )
Some problems require advanced troubleshooting and solutions.

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I think you are right, from this forum.
I see this in a different way:
The biggest problem with prospective users is the hardware used.

It’s evident that many people do not do any diligence
prior to installing (trying to install) Qubes.
There’s an assumption that Qubes will just work™.

I don’t think that putting health warnings on the Download page will help

  • it’s evident that many users don’t touch the docs, look at the HCL, or
    the list of attested machines.
I never presume to speak for the Qubes team. When I comment in the Forum or in the mailing lists I speak for myself.

Don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t say it was entirely Qubes fault !
But there are already many problems running “raw” virtualized systems (Xen, KVM, etc), and Qubes add some more because of security.
Before installing my first Xen dom0 (not Qubes), I read many posts about virtualization in general, and to determine from that if it will work, is pure luck, there are so much different setups !
The HCL is a good thing for that (even if more adapted to laptops/NUCs/SBCs which are less configurable).

But yeah, sometimes the answer to a forum post is already in the docs. People will post a question hoping the answer will fall into their hands quickly without too much effort, rather than taking the time to look for documentation, and reading it (note I’m no better sometimes).

But to be fair, sometimes you take the time to read the docs, you post questions, and in the end it still does not work. But I have no idea what’s the proportion.

My point was more that you don’t need 2-3 of different version of Qubes OS, the standard versions with theme designed to be used with Qubes OS would go a long way, and it doesn’t require the wheel to be reinvented.


I agree to disagree ^^ Before theming my OS/apps, I make sure they work properly !
Another car analogy : do you prefer a car that drives properly but looks bad, or a good looking car which never leaves the parking lot ?
It would help new users to be able to use really easily (think “click-click”) all the new automation methods unman and the team are creating (like How to manipulate the Qubes OS menu via salt?).
There has been a new Qubes doc showing “use cases” for different people. Now wouldn’t it be nice for them to DL the corresponding version ? (BTW, the theming could apply to all of them).

I want to know more, how might I also best theme and set up my QubesOS to look visually appealing?

You can change the theme of dom0 and appVMs as you would in traditional Linux, you place the themes, icons, and fonts in the .themes, .icons and .fonts directories in the home directory.

In dom0 you can select the theme from the settings menu, and in the appVMs I use gsettings to select the theme.

I don’t know the best way to make a theme match the color of a qube, I did it by trial and error manually editing the CSS file.

I used the Memories theme, because it only uses shades of red. You can change values and load the theme to see what changed, and repeat the process until you have found all the values you need, but this does take some time. Once you know which values you need to replace, you can reproduce the same theme in multiple colors.

When I make a blue qube I just manually rename gtk-blue.css to gtk.css and that qube uses the blue theme, and I have a gtk file for each color.

Yes, Qubes is certainly a step forward. As for awareness, that’s really a communication / marketing issue. Qubes has excellent branding and this forum is a great communication resource. As others have mentioned, in this thread, increasing usability might make for a good marketing point. However, as Qubes has a more complex design (e.g., hypervisor), its understandable that installation and maintenance is challenging. Perhaps a “canned” install that easily installs with a simple installation manager might help. But, that may already exist or may not be practical for all available features and modifications (e.g., Coreboot).

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