Instructables
At work we have the frequent need for a machine that will allow students to access the internet without having full access to a computer.  To accomplish this task we previously resorted to creating AutoHotKey scripts on a Windows XP machine.  Many of the students and the staff who monitored these computers took issue with the computer's slow boot and running speed.  To cope with this we started to explore alternatives to Windows.  This is where we combined Ubuntu (a fast operating system) with Chromium-browser (one of the fastest browsers).  Now we have really old machines running as web kiosks that boot in 20 seconds or less and are very responsive to clicks, typing, and even flash videos and animations.

Follow the steps in this Instructable to set up Ubuntu, and Chromium if you haven't already.

Some potential uses for this type of system:
    * Web Kiosk
    * Information Booth
    * Subsonic Guest Interface
    * X10 House Control
 
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Step 1: Add XScreensaver & Ubuntu Restricted Extras

On our systems we found that even LCD monitors got burnt in after time.  They are not supposed to be able to do this, but they were.  To remedy this, we tried to get the default screensavers to come up.  They were not great at running from a script.  Instead the best option for this is to install the xscreensaver packages.  I like to do this from the command line so click Applications, highlight Accessories, and click Terminal.  From there enter the command "sudo apt-get install xscreensav* -y" without the quotation marks.  The asterisk at the end allows aptitude to install all of the packages that start with xscreensav, thus installing all the additional screensavers available.
If you will be using flash you will need to install the plugin for it.  The best way I've found to do this is similar to adding xscreensaver.  In the terminal window enter "sudo apt-get isntall ubuntu-restricted-extras -y".  Once this is done close the Terminal window.
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chuydb1 year ago
Made it back by runnig a terminal...then

sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

and deleting the autologin user line.

How did you get to the terminal? CTRL-ALT-T doesn't work for me.

natrinicle (author)  newuser20142 months ago
ctrl+alt+t only works while in a window manager. ctrl+alt+f1 or ctrl+alt+f2 should take you to an alternate tty though.
natrinicle (author)  chuydb1 year ago
Excellent! Glad you figured it out. Thanks for posting the answer!
flimik2 days ago

sorry =) repeat

how can i give a possibility to resize chromium?

natrinicle (author)  flimik8 hours ago
You would need a windowing system loaded to resize Chromium on the fly. Otherwise, I used to edit the config files for this. Sounds like Google EOL'd those settings so I'm not certain at this point.
flimik2 days ago

hello at all

how can i give a possibility to rise chromium ?

thank you in advance

IsaacN15 days ago

What am i doing wrong? I got 1 computer to work but the rest are not. I receive unable to launch x sessions. Please help.

WP_20140827_001.jpg
natrinicle (author)  IsaacN15 days ago
Looks like it's attempting to find a file "/usr/share/xsessions/chromekiosk.sh" but not finding it. In step 6, did you create both files or just the one?
MichaelH224 days ago

I have successfully set this up on Ubuntu 12.04 on an All In One Dell PC, however, i am having an issue;

When chromium is launched from a script, multi-touch is disabled. If i use the switch --touch-devices=N (N being the device number of the touchscreen found typing "xinput list") i get touch-- sort of. If i do single clicks, fine. If I do two finger or more clicks, it breaks and touch no longer works.

natrinicle (author)  MichaelH224 days ago
Hrmm, sounds like some kind of a touch driver may need to be loaded for the multi-touch to work. I'd get in contact with Dell or see if you can find anything online about getting that particular model's multi-touch working in Ubuntu.
BjornE127 days ago

I want to make a panel PC that controls a PLC trough a webinterface (fixed IP),
i imagine this works great for this. but what happens when power goes out?

can i make it reboot in to this kiosk mode?
and if i clone the SD drives that it runs on, is there a easy way to change the IP addres when clients have a different IP range?
eg: 192.168.0.x instead of 192.168.1.x

Great tutorial!

regards,

Bjorn

natrinicle (author)  BjornE127 days ago
Rebooting into kiosk mode works automatically if you follow the instructions. You can edit the /etc/network/interfaces file on the sdcard before installing it in the new computer.

The IP addres of the kiosk itself would be DHCP,
I meant the IP addres in the browser, at one client the PLC would be 192.168.1.160 (fixed IP), and other client would be 192.168.0.160.

Thank you for your help :-D

natrinicle (author)  BjornE126 days ago

Oh, I see! Sorry for the confusion. I would recommend using the /etc/hosts file and setting a hostname that you would use in Chromium. For instance http://plcinterface/... with the hosts file containing:

192.168.1.160 plcinterface www.plcinterface etc...

lowbrr1 month ago

Sooo, I set this up on Ubuntu 14.04, and I got it working, but there's a problem.

I don't know how to exit the kiosk mode and log in to a different account. I can access the terminal through some of the methods detailed below, but I don't have Sudo access because the Kiosk account is a basic user, and that's as far as I know how to get.

Any and all help is appreciated.

You can also hit ALT-F4 to quit Chrome(ium) and return to the Kiosk user's desktop, then switch users.

natrinicle (author)  MichaelH228 days ago
Alt+F4 shouldn't return you to the desktop if you set up the .desktop config files per my Instructable. It should kill Chromium, wait a few seconds, then relaunch it.
natrinicle (author)  lowbrr1 month ago
You can use ctrl+alt+F1 or ctrl+alt+F2 to switch to a terminal login. From there, login with a user that has access to sudo.
breinicke1 month ago

I've had the system set up for a couple weeks and have casually been interacting with it in my spare time, ensuring it is locked down. I then realized there is a glaringly obvious way bypassing the full screen locked down nature.
Is there a way to edit the right click menu? With a simple mouse wheel click, or a right click "open link in new Window"/"New Tab" selection, a simple and commonly known technique gives the user a URL bar and full reign of the settings menu, etc.

natrinicle (author)  breinicke1 month ago
When I tested this years ago, it didn't give you the URL bar or settings menu from a new tab page. If you follow the part of setting it so that Chrome's settings are read only, you shouldn't need to worry as closing the browser/reopening it should reset the state.
breinicke2 months ago

I made it but am having a small issue. I used a P4. Ubuntu 14 ran, but was sluggish so I used lubuntu instead and it behaves much snappier. and works short of one thing glitch:
When it loads into kiosk mode, it has narrow strip across the bottom where the toolbar would be in the normal desktop mode and it shows whatever the wallpaper is set as in that strip.
Any ideas on how to get rid of this strip?

If related, on Step 5 where you said to edit the Local State file, I did not find the Top or Left line to enter zero. I had to use leafpad as an editor in LXDE and even did a file search for left and top with no results.
Did this go away in recent Chrome versions?

natrinicle (author)  breinicke2 months ago

It does look like they removed this file in recent versions. Not sure if they just moved it or renamed it or if they got rid of it altogether. The strip across the bottom is likely something to do with this file missing (I was getting similar things with Chrome before I edited that).

Thank you very much.

natrinicle (author)  breinicke2 months ago

It does look like they removed this file in recent versions. Not sure if they just moved it or renamed it or if they got rid of it altogether. The strip across the bottom is likely something to do with this file missing (I was getting similar things with Chrome before I edited that).

stejk112 months ago

Super tutorial and it's exactly what I am looking for.

Just one thing though... I need to use Firefox browser rather than Chromium as I will be using a touch screen and for some reason Chromium doesn't work very well for me.

I'm just stuck at step 7 and 8 and how to launch Firefox rather than Chromium. Can you help?

Thanks

natrinicle (author)  stejk112 months ago

I'm not certain where you would set Firefox's dimensions as I haven't really dug into it, but you would want to change /usr/share/xsessions/kiosk.desktop's Exec line to point to the Firefox executable. You can find where this is by running "which firefox". Then you will want to remove/change both lines that start with cat in /usr/share/xsessions/chromeKiosk.sh and change chromium-browser to firefox as well.

nhburgess2 months ago

Great tutorial.

Suppose I would like to deploy this on multiple machines. Could I have a script that runs and makes all of these changes at once? Or can I copy and paste some files/folders?

Any help would be appreciated.

Rico

natrinicle (author)  nhburgess2 months ago

Thanks :)

I have been considering re-working this tutorial so that it could be scriptable but have been too busy with work lately and this has taken a back burner. Will look into it again here soon. Also, you could always build up one machine, clone the drive, and then log in and change the IP/hostname for each of the machines.

newuser20142 months ago

Great tutorial! One question, though. I set this up on 14.04 and have it working, but I can't back to the sign in screen. The login process doesn't pause anywhere to hit ESC or anything else to stop the auto login. I need to make some adjustments.

Any ideas?

natrinicle (author)  newuser20142 months ago
ctrl+alt+f1 or ctrl+alt+f2 should take you back to a terminal window. From there you should be able to edit and make adjustments to the various configurations.
sitoto5 months ago

Great instructable. I was successful in installing and configuring everything and I can boot in Kiosk Mode. My question is; is there anything else i need to install as a receiver? in order to make the touch screen working, because now my touch screen mouse is just bouncing around and not clicking anything.

natrinicle (author)  sitoto5 months ago
It really depends from screen to screen. Is it a USB screen? If so, please run lsusb -v and paste the output into a pastebin and shoot me a link. Otherwise, get me the make and model and I'll see if anyone's got any advice online (when it doubt, Google it).
godzilla8nj7 months ago

You might be interested in Sanickiosk. It's a simple-to-use, completely free, totally customizable web kiosk I built. You can download an ISO or run a script against a fresh Ubuntu Server installation. The entire system can be customized and administrated through the browser. http://links.sanicki.com/sanickiosk

balno1 year ago
Great instructable. I've recently installed some computers as described in our local library and it works like a charm ! Thanks thanks thanks ! By the way, the part of the script used for setting the initial window size didn't work here, I used this one instead :

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#!/bin/bash

# we get screen resolution

res=$(xrandr -q | awk -F'current' -F',' 'NR==1 {gsub("( |current)","");print $2}')
resx=$(echo $res | awk '{split($0,array,"x")} END{print array[1]}')
resy=$(echo $res | awk '{split($0,array,"x")} END{print array[2]}')

# starting xscreensaver

xscreensaver -nosplash &

while true;
        do chromium-browser %u --incognito --window-size=$resx,$resy
        sleep 5s;
done




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks again for the good work.

François. (Agneaux. France)
balno balno1 year ago
as you can see, window size isn't saved anywhere here, it is set by a flag on the command line used to run chromium.
natrinicle (author)  balno1 year ago
Beautiful code! Thanks for the update on that!
scottdn1 year ago
Excellent instructable. I was successful in configuring everything and the Kiosk is working as expected except for one minor issue. While in the kiosk the mouse pointer displays a black X as opposed to a white pointer. What is causing this and how can it be resolved?
natrinicle (author)  scottdn1 year ago
That's the default X Cursor, it looks like you can change it by following the instructions Beastie explains here: http://forums.freebsd.org/showthread.php?t=27920
Like the instructable but what in the world made you think lcd screens would not burn in????
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