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Old 15th May 2008
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Default OS to run in a public computer?

So, my uncle is running a new hotel, and he wanted to make a few public computers available for guest to use, just surf the web and stuff...

I asked if he merely want a strip down system that doesn't let you do anything but just surfing the web... he said that's perfect! Like, no installing program, virus or what not.

What I had in mind is an OS like OpenBSD, just install X and Firefox on it, and of course the guest would have to run a non-root user but it should automatically log in and just fire up FireFox.

And maybe mount the whole /home folder on a memory file system, so any FireFox cookies and things would just get flushed every the system is being rebooted...

And maybe a cron job to shutdown the computer every few hours...

OS that I am considering so far are Open/Dragonfly/Free/Net BSD's, ArchLinux, Slackware, Debian... but of course that would depends on the hardware support.

I also have thought of using one of those OpenBSD Live CD made by another fellow member here! But if the guest just takes it out of the CDROM it wouldn't be very fun to burn them all over again... not that it is a bad thing that they wanted the CD, just that it would be annoying.

That's what I am thinking anyway, any opinions, suggestions?
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Last edited by Sunnz; 15th May 2008 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 15th May 2008
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>What I had in mind is an OS like OpenBSD, just install X and Firefox on it

>So, my uncle is running a new hotel, and he wanted to make a few public computers available for guest to use, just surf the web and stuff...

Do you want any further guests in the future? Yes, then you should consider some Linux distro with working Flash 9 etc. ;-)
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Old 15th May 2008
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what are you going to do about flash?

Edit: Oliver, you type much faster than me
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Old 15th May 2008
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About flash9. For workaround use wine. But why not go for Windows instead if you care for success

Linux have certain problems with flash9. If someone thinks different. let me know which version of linux kernel is working 100% correct.
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Old 15th May 2008
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Yea it is just an Internet machine, I don't really know why you need Windows at all for that... I mean it would probably just had Firefox run in fullscreen and the guest wouldn't even need to know what OS it runs on.

As for Flash isn't there something like linux-firefox in ports?
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Old 15th May 2008
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Forget it. Run command-line only with elinks.

Wait, never mind. Not everybody can live like I do.
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Old 15th May 2008
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Yea unfortunately they would want to be at least able to use hotmail... I might convince them not to install Flash, but yea.
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Old 15th May 2008
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Due to end users' constant requirements for embedded media -- flash, wmv, and other horrors -- I'd consider running Windows: but only in a restartable virtual machine that begins each session from a known-good state. This eliminates problems from nasty software being installed ... intentionally or inadvertently.
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Old 15th May 2008
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Hmmm the owner my uncle probably don't want the users to use Flash or streaming videos... (he's being cheap) I guess I have to ask them for that one...

But they like it so the users can't run anything other than a web browser.
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Old 15th May 2008
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I say look into something that will run in a Kiosk mode. Mac OS X does this nicely but then you need Apple hardware. Windows also has a Kiosk mode and I have seen a few Linux Distros especially for that. Given the fact that so many "general public" sites use flash I would really consider OS X and Windows first.
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Old 15th May 2008
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lol he just grab a few old computers, which I don't think would be any kind of Apple machines.

But yea I'll look into Kiosk mode... anyway I always thought Linux can handle Flash pretty well? Well I haven't had any problem on my Linux machines so I thought there weren't much problems - I played a few silly games and mostly YouTube.
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Old 15th May 2008
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You can use FreeBSD or OpenBSD and run a FireFox with wine so you have painless Flash etc.
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I see... it is still a hard decision for me to choose Windows or Linux/BSD...

If I run Windows I am not sure how to limit what the users can do... if I run it in a VM I am not sure how to disallow user to access the host system or do something like alt-F2... but I already knew how to make X+Firefox to fire up automatically when the computer boots up and put it in a memory file system or what not... set the user's password to some garbage so even they do alt-f2 it doesn't do anything.
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Old 15th May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardpl View Post
About flash9. For workaround use wine. But why not go for Windows instead if you care for success

Linux have certain problems with flash9. If someone thinks different. let me know which version of linux kernel is working 100% correct.
Slackware 12.1 with kernel 2.6.24 and 2.6.25, furthermore Debian Testing with kernel 2.6.24 and Ubuntu 8.04 (I think kernel 2.6.24 too).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuck View Post
You can use FreeBSD or OpenBSD and run a FireFox with wine so you have painless Flash etc.
Without pain is just Wine+Flash9 on FreeBSD 7. You will get certain pain with FreeBSD 6.x and you bite your desk with OpenBSD plus Wine

http://openports.se/emulators/wine (it's an early(!) alpha release).
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Old 15th May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jggimi
I'd consider running Windows: but only in a restartable virtual machine that begins each session from a known-good state.
There is a "public" computer lab at my workplace that uses a similar solution. The boxes are literally rebuilt from a baseline image between each user. (This takes a few minutes.)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oliver_H View Post
Without pain is just Wine+Flash9 on FreeBSD 7. You will get certain pain with FreeBSD 6.x...
I'm running wine + firefox + flash9 on FBSD 6.3. Starting the browser takes a long time (60+ seconds). Once it has been launched, though, it's very responsive.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anomie View Post
There is a "public" computer lab at my workplace that uses a similar solution. The boxes are literally rebuilt from a baseline image between each user. (This takes a few minutes.)
Yea that sounds interesting... but how would you stop people from tinkering the host OS? And what virtual machine would do this?
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Old 15th May 2008
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Ok sorry, didn't knew that wine+OpenBSD is more difficult that wine+FreeBSD.
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Any other operating system than Linux is difficult for Wine. Wine FreeBSD is compared to Linux Wine inferior, but still usable to some degree.
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