Qubes Installation Guide "MediaTest", Rufus confusion

The current Qubes OS installation guide has confusing language in the “Copying the ISO onto the installation medium” section, which I’ve broken into two parts here for reference below:

PART A: One paragraph says “On Windows, you can use the Rufus tool to write the ISO to a USB key. MediaTest is not recommended.”

PART B: And then in the highlighted note right under, it says “If you do this on Windows 10, you can only install Qubes without MediaTest, which is not recommended.”

This language has confused other users in the past, here for example.

What is “MediaTest”? Is it a Rufus thing? A Qubes thing? A Windows thing? None of the above? The screenshots directly below this section of the page give no hint. Ditto for a Google site search on the Rufus site. Ditto for another Google site search on the qubes-os.org site. Ditto for a general Google search.

I am a long-term Linux developer, but I use Windows 10 PCs at home. I am striving to create an increased trust zone for my home computing environment by introducing Qubes OS into my mix. But I’m starting from an untrusted Windows 10 posture, not because I’m ignorant, but just because that’s my current reality.

Maintaining integrity throughout the installation process is critical, as emphasized over and over by Qubes OS user-facing documentation. So I view this documentation shortcoming as a significant roadblock for a user like me who’s making a best effort to start with Qubes OS the “right” way.

Using Git blame on the installation-guide.md file, I discovered the following:

November 27, 2019 luzeal commit f1c783e0:

  • in this substantial commit, luzeal introduced the “PART A” MediaTest reference in issue 5471
  • issue 5471 references Rufus, but no mention of MediaTest

October 29, 2017 NoobyNiceDev commit 47eb48bc:

  • in this very small commit, NoobyNiceDev introduced the beginnings of “PART B” to the documentation
  • commit message “On windows 10 machines created install USB drives can’t accomplish media test. According to Issue 2051.”
  • this commit message is the only source I ever found for the term “media test” (2 words, no proper naming or CamelCase)
  • issue 2051 is a long thread (I read it all), but no mention there of “media test” or “MediaTest”.

Bottom line: the discussion in issue 2051 seems too heavy & inconclusive to me to place as a roadblock in the critical path of a Qubes OS noob’s intent to try Qubes. If Windows 10 is an unacceptable (or strongly discouraged) platform for “Copying the ISO onto the installation medium”, then I’d prefer to be told that directly (so I can act on a workaround) rather than stumbling on this “PART A”, “PART B” confusion.

Thanks for all the hard work on Qubes OS. Hopefully it’s obvious that I’m trying to help here, not criticize.

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@adw, I believe this feedback might interest you.

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Thank you for the detailed investigation and report! I strongly encourage you to submit a PR to improve this documentation. In case you (or any others reading this) are not already aware, the documentation is a community effort, and everyone is welcome to contribute. (That’s how things like this get updated!) So, if you’d like to get involved with the project, this is a great way to do it. You can read more about how to submit documentation changes here:

If you’re unable or unwilling to submit a PR yourself, you can instead submit a bug report in the hope that someone else will do it:

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Submitted pull request #1168. I welcome any suggestions or recommended changes.

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