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What Linux distribution would you recommend for a host with sole function of displaying an informational WWW page to the public with minimum maintenance?

The hardware is a rather simple PC with LAN connectivity. Its only function would be to connect to network and open web browser in full screen on startup, displaying non-interactive information table updated in real time, served as a dynamic, self-refreshing web page from a remote server.

It would be good if the distro could perform as many maintenance functions as possible unattended, and require as little human interaction as possible, above all never demand any interactions through the main screen - any maintenance would be performed remotely over SSH, alerts sent to admin through email.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If this "appliance" will solely present a web page that auto-refreshes, what maintenance ?

A 10-year-old Linux would do the job :)

I would suggest a minimal debian or slackware - really, anything uber-stable with a mininal X environment.

You could easily run this off a 1GB USB stick.

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1) FSCK on startup. Its primary shutdown mode will be power failures (no UPS). 2) Security updates, just in case. –  SF. Jul 24 '12 at 9:59
    
@sf for 1) consider using JFFS2 as your file system, for 2) just use recent distribution you are familiar with - your requirements are not as much a matter of the distro choice but rather application choice and configuration. –  the-wabbit Jul 24 '12 at 10:37

For me this sounds like a candidate for any distribution. I'd do it with Debian though, because their software is old, stable and tested. Ubuntu LTS might be a nice alternative to Debian, if you don't want to upgrade every two to threee years.

Both Ubuntu and Debian can be made to do what you want and can be administrated via SSH.

Check out NoDM, this seems to be what you want. http://enricozini.org/sw/nodm/

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