Linux distros for kiosks

tux_compMany users share the same computer to browse the web, print documents etc. in Internet Cafés and kiosks. And there are places like the library where people may use a single software to browse the library catalogue and look up book references in the internet. Customized Linux distros are available free of cost for deploying as isolated systems with limited access and complete security. Another advantage of using Linux is – often the hardware used in kiosks are old and Linux runs great on those. Here’s a list of some distros with kiosk mode support.

  • Porteus kiosk
    The mini distro Porteus has a dedicated mod to support kiosk mode. Provides options to customize as need on first boot.
  • Instant WebKiosk
    Boots from USB key and browser only.
  • Can Bike OS
    Puppy based live-CD OS with a web browser and little else.
  • SanicKiosk
    Turn-key web kiosk designed for public libraries, city government, health clinics, and other institutions in need of public information stations. It is intended for easy installation and administration by users with minimal technical knowledge.
  • Ubuntu Guest login
    Normal Ubuntu installation allows guest access from the login prompt. A perfect solution for kiosks. Login into guest mode with restricted permissions but non-restricted browser. Works from USB too.
  • Scientific Linux 6 and CentOS 6
    Both the distros can be configured into kiosk-mode automatically by running this script.
  • Webconverger (Unconfigured edition)
    Runs from USB, easy management console, highly secure, privacy conscious & fool-proof. No vendor lock-in, malware-free & firewall included. The Unconfigured offering is perfectly usable and free of cost.
  • justbrowsing
    A bootable Linux “Live CD” that does not make any changes to the existing operating system on the computer. You can use the browser of your choice. Bundled webapps include a calculator, text editor, timer and more. Settings can be saved to a USB drive.
  • Kiosk conversion script
    Redditor rawfan shared his script (create_kiosk.sh) to convert Ubuntu into a kiosk. It is untested and should not be run directly on your workstation as it modifies lightdm behaviour. Test first. It does the following:
    > create a kiosk user with limited rights
    > the user gets an empty password (mkpasswd ”) with a password-policy that it can’t be changed
    > mount a union file system on top of the kiosk users $HOME (aufs) so that the user can’t actually change anything
    > wipe the aufs on login, logout and boot
    > display a warning on login that users need to save their stuff to USB keys because everything gets wiped clean
    > log the user out after a couple of minutes of inactivity
    > lightdm only displays the kiosk user and the option to enter a custom username and a message to press enter to log in
    > set up unattended upgrades for all packages
    If you test it out, don’t forget to leave a feedback on how the script performs.

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