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In-Service Internet Kiosk

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Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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September 1, 2011 7:37:17 PM

Hello, all!

Ok, I work for a company that is needing some computers setup to allow the users to take their in-services. We would also like to limit it so that users don't just go in there and use it for shopping while on company time.

Anyway, I thought of the idea of setting up a computer with a Linux Kiosk distribution.

What we are looking for:
Fast startup on old computers (could just pull an old one off the shelf and load it up with the OS)
Limited use, as in cannot do anything other than going to the in-service website
Starts up without a desktop... when you start up, it opens up a browser and takes you directly to the website.
An easy-to-setup distro. We solely use windows here, so neither of us have much experience with Linux (I've had just enough experience with Linux to know that I would really prefer a pretty much pre-setup OS)
Would STRONGLY prefer it to be free.

Any suggestions?

More about : service internet kiosk

September 2, 2011 5:32:28 AM

I'm thinking there has to be a distro out there that essentially starts X (the graphical subsystem) then launches a limited, whitelist-configured Firefox fullscreen on that instance of X (and disables the other virtual terminals to prevent the linux-saavy from doing naughty things). Lemme see what I can find...
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September 2, 2011 5:35:31 AM

This looks promising, but it seems to be more manual than you really care for, lemme look a bit more...

Edit: Meh, I'm not really finding something that will walk you through the setup during install, maybe someone else will find something closer to meeting your needs. Of course, you could take this slightly rougher approach and just post questions up here and we'll be glad to help
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September 2, 2011 11:35:39 PM

chamaecyparis said:
Zencafe deserves a look.

Well, while Zencafe does look like a solid little distro perfect for such a machine, it doesn't seem like it offers a mechanism to provide the "open a full-screen, limited browser"-type of interface that is what is desired, it's a fine basis but requires additional effort.
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September 3, 2011 5:51:42 AM

OP said, " . . . I would really prefer a pretty much pre-setup OS). Would STRONGLY prefer it to be free. "

Don't believe there is such a critter.

As with anything Slackware-based (as is zencafe), it is highly customizable, but you'll pay to do it one way or another.
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September 4, 2011 3:18:10 PM

Aye, nail on the head. Although, I wonder how much interest there is for a distro that, on install, provides a UI to create a walk-up kiosk ("just browser" or a custom checklist of available programs, configure the browser whitelist, etc.)
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September 4, 2011 3:37:38 PM

Apparently, a lot -- in Indonesia!
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September 4, 2011 5:55:57 PM

So I heard when I was trying to set up my secure USB stick / travel solution some time back. Whilst I didn't go to Indonesia the people I met that have all said XP was still everywhere and that was my observation from Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

Just to add to the mix what about running Chrome? If you sent the connection via a proxy you can control the access list from there for however many stations you setup.
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September 5, 2011 4:44:32 PM


Malaysia . . . Indonesia -- what's the difference?! ;) 
I'm glad your trip went well, audiovoodoo!
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September 6, 2011 6:18:59 PM

Alright, ty for the responses :) 

Yea, seems like the only free customizable solutions are ones you have to spend some time with setting up... I was messing around with instructions on how to setup a webconverger-like OS, but some of the packages were missing...

And as for Chrome, we contacted the company who owns the website we are using for the in-service, and they said that they only officially support IE 8 and 9, but it will work on Firefox and Chrome... one problem with Chrome is that they said some of the parts of it don't work, and that they would recommend Firefox as an alternative to IE 8 and 9. So, on with my search... And I will take a closer look at the site you mentioned, bmouring.
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September 7, 2011 12:03:50 PM

Would that happen to be some payroll and time management software by any chance? If it is then drop me a PM as I might very well be able to help now that I don't work for them ;-)
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September 7, 2011 12:04:56 PM

chamaecyparis said:
Malaysia . . . Indonesia -- what's the difference?! ;) 
I'm glad your trip went well, audiovoodoo!


It was jeffin awesome. My only regret is that I bought a return ticket :( 
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September 8, 2011 5:36:15 PM

No, it's a training program for nurses. Any suggestions on that? Not sure if it would be similar in setup... The one I am referring to is a website... Actually, it is www.healthcareacademy.com, if that gives an idea of what we are trying to do.

Thanks!
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September 11, 2011 12:03:01 PM

With the 'IE Only' systems I've supported there tends to be two reasons why they limit support:

1. Makes use of ActiveX components that don't play with other browsers
2. Tech support limitations

We used to have configuration guides that had to be followed for our software to run. As long as you extrapolated the settings from that guide and put the same values into Chrome or FF then the user side would work fine, it was just that I was not allowed to offer any support and if you had issues the company line was that you were on your own - try IE mate.

With the admin side of the system it HAD to be IE. The controls used would not play and had not be certified on any other platform. As this was a financial system this was a complete show stopper.

The quest you need to ask yourself is are you prepared to take the support hit yourself? If you go with anything other than IE and have issues then you'll be lucky to get help from support staff. They're not being obstructive, just professional as they can't guarantee the results you will get. That being said a training system going down is not going to kill people.

As much as it sucks I think locking down IE into kiosk mode might be the best option.


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