I think Qubes, but more so (Xen/)GNU/Linux has a long way to go before even the tech-savvy users would consider Qubes as a daily driver. Also the hardware in laptops-- a future standard fast CPU, SSDs, and 16GB of RAM would probably be the baseline to ensure people don’t feel like they’re using a dinosaur computer from the 2000s.
That being said, I think the best selling point to more average users is the workflow that Qubes provides.
One Qube for School, one for Work, one for Finances, one has your photos. It’s so easy for me to be organized and not get distracted. My School browser has school-related bookmarks. My Finances browser only has my discount broker. My media VM has my photos, and I don’t have to go hunting for a long-lost jpeg that I can’t remember if I moved to
To me, this is how desktop computers were meant to be used; Windows and Mac OS leave you with bloated
Downloads/ folders, and that’s it. Besides, if a program is slow to open in Qubes, or you need to reinstall something, you don’t need to waste time in System Preferences or Activity Monitor-- just restore a Qube (I think this is possible?) or create a new one.
I’d be wary of introducing Qubes via (harsh) truths like “any USB you plug into your normal OS could compromise your machine.” This is not fun to think about, it is technical, and will simply drive people towards not caring enough (i.e. “I have nothing to hide,” or “nobody will target me”).
One advantage that Qubes has towards more widespread adoption is that it perhaps epitomizes the role of technology in industrialized societies.
First, Qubes is abstract. The concepts of a hypervisor and a virtual machine, which provide the backbone for Qubes, are incredibly abstract, especially to those who treat computers as, “I type my document and click print, then I check my email.” Why is abstraction relevant? Because industrialized societies, especially in technological and financial sectors, have almost always everywhere tended to get more abstract. I’ll give in examples in a second, but the main idea is that because industrialized societies have gotten more abstract, that abstraction is in some way important to people. If Qubes also grows more abstract, people will enjoy it in the same way they have been enjoying the various abstractions of industrialized society.
The best example of an abstraction is in money. Money began in Mesopotamia as quantities of grain. Grain is very concrete. It is physical, and you and others can eat it. Fast forward, and money became pretty shells. Shells are still physical, and they’re at least pretty-- but you can’t eat them or use them for anything meaningful. So the purpose and symbol of money has grown more abstract: first it was something very useful (edible grain), and then it was something only slightly useful (pretty shells). Fast forward again, and the physical objects defined as money (coins, bills) are not useful at all beyond the value given to them by a government. Some may enjoy the “gold aesthetic,” but that is surely less naturally pretty than a colorful sea shell.
Fast forward to cryptocurrency-- the epitome of abstractified money. Bitcoin is so abstract that it’s ephemeral. Unlike all past forms of money, it’s not physical. Ether-eum is literally ether-eal.
All this to say that Xen and Qubes are other examples of humanity pushing the bounds of abstraction. People need abstractification in modern cultures, so a more abstractified Qubes (not necessarily difficult to use, although some Linux users certainly seem to enjoy the sado-masochism that comes with minimalist programs) will be more popular.
Qubes also mimics other aspects of industrialized society. For example, the notion of a “cube” itself, of packaging everything into little boxes and containers perfect for single tasks. There isn’t room to go into it here, but the psychology underlying our culture’s trend towards dividing things up and consuming them is a very powerful current that will only go stronger. Take Bitcoin “blocks” or Chia “plots” or a hyper-organized smartphone home screen as examples.
A lot of trends in our modern culture are exhibited in Qubes. This is because Qubes was built by people in modern culture. By leaning more into those trends, Qubes devs can make Qubes more popular. Anybody should feel free to DM me if they’d like a deeper psychosocial explanation of the symbols underlying our culture.