I’ve worked with Qubes for about two years now. I’ve got a few tips and tricks after some time using it.
- Don’t watch videos in browsers
It’s probably better to watch them on a spare phone, or download and watch in a dedicated application, like VLC. Firefox has terrible YouTube performance, and Chromium isn’t much better. No GPU acceleration in Qubes, so your software renderer has to be close to bare-metal with nice buffers to get any good performance. VLC and other native players are used to dealing with constrained software renderers, they’ve been around since Windows XP, probably earlier.
- BIOS/UEFI boot can require fiddling
My motherboard doesn’t detect Qubes' default UEFI firmware files. /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.cfg was the only location for files that was accepted, probably matching a Windows boot path.
- Growing VM disks, easy. Shrinking VM disks, harder than it should be.
You’ve got to boot into emergency/single user mode, check and resize the disk, shutdown, resize the lvm mountpoint, boot normally. I use this to reclaim disk space for the pool when a VM has lost some weight.
Shrinking a Qubes disk to 100G (Note that ‘nopat’ matched my qvm-prefs –default kernelopts)
- qvm-prefs -s VM qrexec_timeout 999999
- qvm-prefs -s VM kernelops nopat single
- qvm-start VM&
- sudo xl console VM
- Enter recovery shell
- fsck.ext4 /dev/xvdb
- resize2fs /dev/xvdb 100G
- shutdown -h now
- Exit recovery shell (should happen after power off)
- sudo lvresize -L100.1G /dev/qubes_dom0/vm-VM-private
- qvm-prefs –default VM qrexec_timeout
- qvm-prefs –default VM kernelopts
- qvm-start VM&
I have some mild paranoia that I need a few extra bytes, like I’ll have some misalignment, so I keep the disk a hundred MB bigger than it needs to be. Probably safe to use 100G in lvresize.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it as an OS in the long term. Why’s that?
- It’s falling out of date and has few active maintainers. The usual risks around unmaintained software are growing while performance is dropping.
- It has a steep learning curve - not only are you running a hypervisor, but you’re running one with a custom userspace layer. Expect to find a lot of rough edges. With a base operating system 4 versions behind current, even new installs are behind the latest fixes. The Firefox version bundled is practically archiac.