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DIY: The ideal web browser kiosk software

Thanks to Webconverger, the ideal web-browser kiosk distribution has arrived. Find out why Jack Wallen considers this customizable live Linux distribution a gem.

Let's say your customers need to be able to use a kiosk for web browsing only. You've tried a full-blown Windows installation, a locked-down Windows installation, and a Linux live distribution, but each one had various problems (security, too many features, high resource needs, etc.) that must be overcome in order to serve as the ideal solution.

My solution of choice has been a Linux distribution using a desktop like Fluxbox to only allow the users "access" to the web browser. The problem with that is the more rascally users will figure out how to open a terminal window and wreak their own special havoc on the machine.

Now there's an ideal solution called Webconverger.It is a live Linux distribution that boots up (it can be booted from a CD or a flash drive) and, when the boot process is done, it will only present a web browser. Anyone using the kiosk can browse the web, using Firefox 5, and nothing more. It's easy, elegant, and avoids all sorts of headaches like the ones I mentioned about the other solutions. Webconverger is available in two editions: free and custom.

How to use Webconverger

  1. Download the latest ISO image.
  2. Burn the ISO to either a disc or a flash drive (getting the image to a flash drive is easy with the help of UNetbootin.)
  3. Transfer the newly burned disc or flash drive to the kiosk machine.
  4. Boot the kiosk from either the CD or the flash drive.
  5. Start browsing the web.

There is one minor catch: The default Home screen for the browser cannot be changed manually. In order to get customizations, you must go to the Webconverger Customize page and purchase the customization (100GBP ~ 115 EUR/~ 150 USD). After paying this fee, the following can be configured:

  • Custom Home page and artwork.
  • Choice of browser (Firefox, Iceweasel, or Chrome).
  • Kiosk reset timeout.
  • Custom browser layouts.
  • Screen blanking options.
  • Bootloader lockdown.
  • Adobe Flash and PDF viewing.

You will then be emailed with a link to your customized ISO download.

Even if you only want to use Webconverger default options, the default Home page (Figure A) is an innocuous Weconverger advertisement. Figure A

When a session is reset, this will always be the Home page. Also, you won't see any bookmarks (you cannot save bookmarks).

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

4 comments
macduff
macduff

You can customize it yourself, they just offer the service for a fee. Following their instructions I just customized it to load my companies website. Both flash and PDFs work. When I test it on the kiosk machine Ill see if the touch screen functions.

AllanMitch
AllanMitch

Without flash and a pdf reader, I'd say this is hardly ideal. And $150 seems a steep price to add this functionality.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The question; how is it for touch screen support? Does this produce a kiosk still limited by mouse, keyboard and direct physical access or could this be used with a touchscreen hiding the rest of the hardware under the table?

Rene-Diependaele
Rene-Diependaele

I tried slax, and my iso cd did not want to boot. Maybe Webconverger works better. How do you customize it?

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