Minimal TemplateVMs

The Minimal TemplateVMs are lightweight versions of their standard TemplateVM counterparts. They have only the most vital packages installed, including a minimal X and xterm installation. The sections below contain instructions for using the template and provide some examples for common use cases. There are currently two Minimal TemplateVMs corresponding to the standard Fedora and Debian TemplateVMs.

Important

  1. The Minimal TemplateVMs are intended only for advanced users. If you encounter problems with the Minimal TemplateVMs, we recommend that you use their standard TemplateVM counterparts instead.

  2. If something works with a standard TemplateVM but not the minimal version, this is most likely due to user error (e.g., a missing package or misconfiguration) rather than a bug. In such cases, you should write to qubes-users to ask for help rather than filing a bug report, then contribute what you learn to the documentation.

  3. The Minimal TemplateVMs are intentionally minimal. Do not ask for your favorite package to be added to the minimal template by default.

Installation

The Minimal TemplateVMs can be installed with the following command (where X is your desired distro and version number):

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-X-minimal

If your desired version is not found, it may still be in testing. You may wish to try again with the testing repository enabled:

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-templates-itl-testing qubes-template-X-minimal

The download may take a while depending on your connection speed.

Passwordless root

It is an intentional design choice for Passwordless Root Access in VMs to be optional in Minimal TemplateVMs. Since the Minimal TemplateVMs are minimal, they are not configured for passwordless root by default. To update or install packages, execute the following command in dom0 (where X is your distro and version number):

[user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -u root X-minimal xterm

This opens a root terminal in the Minimal TemplateVM, from which you can use execute root commands without sudo. You will have to do this every time if you choose not to enable passwordless root.

If you want to be able to use sudo inside a Minimal TemplateVM (or TemplateBasedVMs based on a Minimal TemplateVM), open a root terminal as just instructed, then install the qubes-core-agent-passwordless-root package.

Optionally, verify that passwordless root now works by opening a normal (non-root) xterm window in the Minimal TemplateVM, then issue the command sudo -l. This should give you output that includes the NOPASSWD keyword.

Customization

You may wish to clone the original template and make any changes in the clone instead of the original template. You must start the clone in order to customize it.

Customizing the template for specific use cases normally only requires installing additional packages.

Distro-specific notes

This following sections provide information that is specific to a particular Minimal TemplateVM distro.

Fedora

The following list provides an overview of which packages are needed for which purpose. As usual, the required packages are to be installed in the running template with the following command (replace packages with a space-delimited list of packages to be installed):

[user@your-new-clone ~]$ sudo dnf install packages
  • Commonly used utilities: pciutils vim-minimal less psmisc gnome-keyring.
  • Audio: pulseaudio-qubes.
  • FirewallVM, such as the template for sys-firewall: at least qubes-core-agent-networking and iproute, and also qubes-core-agent-dom0-updates if you want to use it as the UpdateVM (which is normally sys-firewall).
  • NetVM, such as the template for sys-net: qubes-core-agent-networking qubes-core-agent-network-manager NetworkManager-wifi network-manager-applet wireless-tools dejavu-sans-fonts notification-daemon gnome-keyring polkit @hardware-support. If your network devices need extra packages for the template to work as a network VM, use the lspci command to identify the devices, then run dnf search firmware (replace firmware with the appropriate device identifier) to find the needed packages and then install them. If you need utilities for debugging and analyzing network connections, install tcpdump telnet nmap nmap-ncat.
  • USB qube, such as the template for sys-usb: qubes-input-proxy-sender.
  • VPN qube: Use the dnf search "NetworkManager VPN plugin" command to look up the VPN packages you need, based on the VPN technology you’ll be using, and install them. Some GNOME related packages may be needed as well. After creation of a machine based on this template, follow the VPN instructions to configure it.

You may also wish to consider additional packages from the qubes-core-agent suite:

  • qubes-core-agent-qrexec: Qubes qrexec agent. Installed by default.
  • qubes-core-agent-systemd: Qubes unit files for SystemD init style. Installed by default.
  • qubes-core-agent-passwordless-root, polkit: By default, the Fedora Minimal template doesn’t have passwordless root. These two packages enable this feature.
  • qubes-core-agent-nautilus: This package provides integration with the Nautilus file manager (without it things like “copy to VM/open in disposable VM” will not be shown in Nautilus).
  • qubes-core-agent-sysvinit: Qubes unit files for SysV init style or upstart.
  • qubes-core-agent-networking: Networking support. Required for general network access and particularly if the template is to be used for a sys-net or sys-firewall VM.
  • qubes-core-agent-network-manager: Integration for NetworkManager. Useful if the template is to be used for a sys-net VM.
  • network-manager-applet: Useful (together with dejavu-sans-fonts and notification-daemon) to have a system tray icon if the template is to be used for a sys-net VM.
  • qubes-core-agent-dom0-updates: Script required to handle dom0 updates. Any template which the VM responsible for ‘dom0’ updates (e.g. sys-firewall) is based on must contain this package.
  • qubes-usb-proxy: Required if the template is to be used for a USB qube (sys-usb) or for any destination qube to which USB devices are to be attached (e.g sys-net if using USB network adapter).
  • pulseaudio-qubes: Needed to have audio on the template VM.

See here for further information on customizing fedora-minimal.

Logging

The rsyslog logging service is not installed by default, as all logging is instead being handled by the systemd journal. Users requiring the rsyslog service should install it manually.

To access the journald log, use the journalctl command.

Debian

As you would expect, the required packages can be installed in the running template with any apt-based command. For example : (Replace “packages` with a space-delimited list of packages to be installed.)

[user@your-new-clone ~]$ sudo apt install packages
Use case Description Required steps
Standard utilities If you need the commonly used utilities Install the following packages: pciutils vim-minimal less psmisc gnome-keyring
Networking If you want networking Install qubes-core-agent-networking
Audio If you want sound from your VM… Install pulseaudio-qubes
FirewallVM You can use the minimal template as a template for a FirewallVM, like sys-firewall Install qubes-core-agent-networking, and nftables. Also install qubes-core-agent-dom0-updates if you want to use a qube based on the template as an updateVM (normally sys-firewall).
NetVM You can use this template as the basis for a NetVM such as sys-net Install the following packages: qubes-core-agent-networking, qubes-core-agent-network-manager, and nftables.
NetVM (extra firmware) If your network devices need extra packages for a network VM Use the lspci command to identify the devices, then find the package that provides necessary firnware and install it.
Network utilities If you need utilities for debugging and analyzing network connections Install the following packages: tcpdump telnet nmap nmap-ncat
USB If you want to use this template as the basis for a USB qube such as sys-usb Install qubes-usb-proxy. To use USB mouse or keyboard install qubes-input-proxy-sender.
VPN You can use this template as basis for a VPN qube You may need to install network-manager VPN packages, depending on the VPN technology you’ll be using. After creating a machine based on this template, follow the VPN howto to configure it.

In Qubes 4.0, additional packages from the qubes-core-agent suite may be needed to make the customized minimal template work properly. These packages are:

  • qubes-core-agent-nautilus: This package provides integration with the Nautilus file manager (without it, items like “copy to VM/open in disposable VM” will not be shown in Nautilus).
  • qubes-core-agent-thunar: This package provides integration with the thunar file manager (without it, items like “copy to VM/open in disposable VM” will not be shown in thunar).
  • qubes-core-agent-dom0-updates: Script required to handle dom0 updates. Any template on which the qube responsible for ‘dom0’ updates (e.g. sys-firewall) is based must contain this package.
  • qubes-menus: Defines menu layout.
  • qubes-desktop-linux-common: Contains icons and scripts to improve desktop experience.

Also, there are packages to provide additional services:

  • qubes-gpg-split: For implementing split GPG.
  • qubes-u2f: For implementing secure forwarding of U2F messages.
  • qubes-pdf-converter: For implementing safe conversion of PDFs.
  • qubes-img-converter: For implementing safe conversion of images.
  • qubes-snapd-helper: If you want to use snaps in qubes.
  • qubes-thunderbird: Additional tools for use in thunderbird.
  • qubes-app-shutdown-idle: If you want qubes to automatically shutdown when idle.
  • qubes-mgmt-\*: If you want to use salt management on the template and qubes.

Documentation on all of these can be found in the docs

You could, of course, use qubes-vm-recommended to automatically install many of these, but in that case you are well on the way to a standard Debian template.