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I have a bunch of touchscreen machines that I want to display a webpage on and have users interact with the webpage via the touchscreen. Right now, this is done with a full-blown OS with a browser set to run at startup. I think maybe the ideal solution is to use a Linux-based OS that boots up, starts X, then starts a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, or whatever) in full screen mode.

What kind of options do I have? I really want to avoid using a full-blown OS like I do now. It looks unprofessional and takes a while to boot up. I was thinking maybe Chrome OS or something, but I wouldn't know how to set it up for my purposes, since it's still designed to be used as a desktop OS instead of a kiosk-type OS.

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6 Answers 6

Your idea of a Linux configuration seems good.

A small Linux distro such as Arch or LFS (BSD works too) with all services except X11 and DHCP ripped out. X11 can be configured to start anything - so make it launch a web browser and a very minimal window manager (such as dwm).

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I've made FreeBSD images that boot, start X, and run Firefox (2.x at the time) that fit in 64MB. There's websites dedicated to things like this. –  Chris S May 11 '10 at 19:45
    
@Chris S: I was unable to find any websites dedicated to this. Could you possibly provide me with a few links? Thanks. –  Ross Peoples May 11 '10 at 20:07
    
@Ross: I should rephrase that, there are websites dedicated to parts of the solution. For instance, miniBSD (minibsd.org) for getting FreeBSD working <15MB, The FreeBSD Xorg port (/usr/ports/x11/xorg-minimal) is a great start for X. –  Chris S May 11 '10 at 21:45
    
The Firefox 3.6 I have installed is almost 60MB by itself, but that could probably be compiled smaller (try using CFGLAGS+=-Os in make.conf) and possibly other things cut down/out. dwm, wmii, evilwm, and other window managers are pretty small too. –  Chris S May 11 '10 at 21:48
    
I'm not quite as proficient with core unix systems as I'd like yet. Could you tell me how to start X with Firefox or Chrome as the only thing displayed in full screen mode? Thanks. –  Ross Peoples May 13 '10 at 16:45

What about this? http://blog.ksplice.com/2010/05/scalable-day-to-day-diskless-booting/

Saw it on Slashdot the other day. You will have to configure the function yourself but this will get you started on having a low overhead OS.

Maybe too much work for your solution though.

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I hadn't considered PXE booting them since they all have hard drives. Maybe that will be good for the future, but it will take way too long to set this up. I would basically have to make a change to the entire network infrastructure (for the DHCP) just to make it work this way. I'd rather have a minimal Linux OS installed on the hard drive of the machine. –  Ross Peoples May 11 '10 at 18:15
    
Yah it is a lot of work! But there are benefits for your application. The hard disks on the system could still be used if you wanted but would not be required for storage of the OS, though they could be put to good use in many other ways. Don't let the computers having hard disks stop your PXE dreams ;). Other options could be Ubuntu and just install packages that are needed for you application. Or check Ubuntu Light I don't think it is out yet but it promises an "instant on" function. Link: digitizor.com/2010/05/10/… –  Campo May 11 '10 at 18:35

Would you consider using Peppermint OS - although it's a full OS the reviews states that it boots fast about 25 seconds even on old hardware. I would give it a shot as a test. Hope this helps!

http://linuxcritic.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/peppermint-os-a-review/2/

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The new version of Ubuntu has a fast startup time too, but neither are any different than what I have now. –  Ross Peoples May 11 '10 at 18:12

Have you looked at Chrome OS?

nevermind...you are way ahead of me.

:-)

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You can use Xpud which is Firefox based os

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The opera browser has a feature called Kiosk mode. This sets the page in full-page and disables keyboard shortcuts that would normally switch to desktop (such as ALT-TAB, CTRL+ESC, etc..)

You can find more information here: http://www.opera.com/support/mastering/kiosk/

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