Qubes Tip: Opening links in your preferred AppVM
If you use Qubes like I do, you have many different AppVMs to compartmentalize different programs. You might have one VM for your email client, one for your jabber client, one for your password database. But if you click a link in any of these programs, it sure would be nice if that link opened in the browser VM of your choice. This isn’t all that hard to setup.
qvm-open-in-vm lets you open a document or a URL in another VM.
user@dev:~$ qvm-open-in-vm Usage: /usr/bin/qvm-open-in-vm vmname filename
If you have a terminal open in your dev VM and want to load https://micahflee.com/ in your browser VM, you can do it like this:
user@dev:~$ qvm-open-in-vm browser https://micahflee.com
You get a prompt in
dom0 asking if you really want to allow this cross-VM behavior. When you choose yes, a new tab loading my website opens in your default browser in your browser VM.
Excellent. Now let’s say you want this to automatically happen every time you click any link. You can do this by creating a
.desktop file that advertises itself as a handler for http/https links, and then setting this as your default browser.
Open a text editor and copy and paste this into it:
[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=BrowserVM Exec=qvm-open-in-vm browser %u Terminal=false X-MultipleArgs=false Type=Application Categories=Network;WebBrowser; MimeType=x-scheme-handler/unknown;x-scheme-handler/about;text/html;text/xml;application/xhtml+xml;application/xml;application/vnd.mozilla.xul+xml;application/rss+xml;application/rdf+xml;image/gif;image/jpeg;image/png;x-scheme-handler/http;x-scheme-handler/https;
Replace browser in the line that says
Exec=qvm-open-in-vm browser %u with whatever AppVM you want to open links in. Save this file to
Finally, set it as your default browser (like I’m doing here in my email VM):
user@email:~$ xdg-settings set default-web-browser browser_vm.desktop
Now whenever you click a link in a program running in this VM (such as Thunderbird), it will open that link in your browser VM.
Legacy comments, imported from previous version of this blog:
Thanks for the good writeup. It actually was once a leisure account it. Glance complex to more brought agreeable from you! By the way, how could we be in contact?
This is amazing! I was looking how to do something like this but regarding opening Office docs in windows VM, i will try to do this so i double click any document and it opens in the windows VM, so far i've been using the command qvm-open-in-vm form the terminal...
Here are the Microsoft Office document MIME types: http://filext.com/faq/office_mime_types.php
I haven't tested it, but I bet you could accomplish this if you make a .desktop file that looks something like:
[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=MicrosoftOfficeVM Exec=qvm-open-in-vm windowsvm %u Terminal=false X-MultipleArgs=false Type=Application Categories=Office; MimeType=application/msword;application/vnd.ms-excel;application/vnd.ms-powerpoint;[fill in the rest]
Then, in the file manager Nautilus, right-click on an Office document, Properties, go to the Open With tab, and choose MicrosoftOfficeVM, and set as default.
Hi, can you please let me know whether it works. I have a software that works only in Windows :/ (BaKoMa TeX, I paid a lot of money:/) so I want to run all tex files in Windows VM. Sorry I am lazy and also afraid (my computer has 8 GB RAM only) to try Windows VM because I need it only for that software. Thank you
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I've written a similar desktop file for disposable VMs. https://github.com/kulinacs/qubes-desktop/blob/master/qvm-open-in-dvm.desktop I was unaware this would also work for links. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, this is excellent!
Would love to see porcupine integrated to Qubes, to handle these kinds of cases.