Ok, I dug a bit deeper into this. It doesn't look like a problem of how much 
memory I give to VMs. Essentially, my QubesOS boots in two different ways:

- When QubesOS is happy, it starts in ~1 min (yup, starting up all the VMs 
still takes a while). The overall system is very reactive, for instance if I 
type qvm-ls I obtain some output straight away. Moreover, if I start a VM the 
notification "VM blabla is starting" is displayed immediately.

- When QubesOS is not happy, it starts in ~3mins. The overall system is very 
slow, qvm-ls takes 3-4 seconds to display output, and starting a VM takes up to 
20 seconds. Even the notification "VM blabla is starting" is displayed 4-5 
seconds after the command is issued. Moreover the battery is drained much much 
quicker (200% quicker give or take).

What makes Qubes happy or not happy to start seems to be completely random. I 
have a slight suspect that this may depend on booting the laptop while 
plugged/unplugged, but I cannot confirm this.
Essentially my Qubes experience atm can be exemplified as follows: "At boot, 
throw a coin. If it's heads then it's fine, otherwise it's fubar". Any 
suggestion (or report of similar behavior) would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
Fab

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