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How to Turn a PC Into a Linux Web Kiosk

Webconverger in Costa Rica!

Although the PC market is in turmoil, it has never been easier to replace its out-of-date, often unsupported, bloated & infected preinstalled OS with a Linux alternative.

In this tutorial, I'll explain how to turn your PC into a Web kiosk. What's a Web kiosk? It's a PC that directs the public to a certain intended Web application. Imagine public computers found at a library or a cafe, these would be considered Web kiosks.

You might think configuring your favourite desktop operating system to start a browser is easy enough, though the devil is in the details.

  1. Is the system locked down so the user can only get access to the browser?

  2. Does the system have a window manager which can allow a misuse like hiding and minimising the browser?

  3. Does the system prevent downloads in order to save bandwidth?

  4. Is the browser locked down so no malicious addons or configurations can be set?

  5. When a user has finished using the kiosk, is that user's data wiped clean? Is it security reviewed & validated?

  6. Does the kiosk stay upto date with latest security and HTML developments?

  7. Can the kiosk be setup without a URL bar or restricted so the user can't browse sites that have nothing to do with the intended application?

Webconverger is such a Linux kiosk solution that is focused on all these details, delivering Web kiosk software in deployments ranging from retail banks to call centers to community centers.

To try Webconverger out on your PC without touching any existing data, you need 1Gigabyte of RAM and any USB stick you are willing to format.

Download Webconverger and follow the detailed instructions for Windows, Linux or Mac on how to put Webconverger on it upon on a USB memory stick

Once you have the USB stick ready, you need to choose to boot from it in your BIOS menu. Next you should see the Webconverger boot menu and the Live default is just fine.

With any luck, you should now have a Web browser looking back at you. Browse the Web and once you are finished, close the tab to ensure every trace of your session is kept private.

If you install Webconverger, Webconverger will stay uptodate with its unique git upgrade technology. So it's as close as you can get to zero maintenance.

So if you have a place that could use more traffic, set up a PC with Webconverger Web kiosk and turn it into a destination.

 

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  • Dave Hunt Said:

    Love it. I may give it a shot on some of the old PCs we have laying around..... Did anyone see this article? http://www.pcworld.com/article/2047173/resurrect-your-old-pc-as-a-public-kiosk-for-fun-and-profit.html#tk.nl_today I fell on the floor laughing when they suggested installing Windows 8 on an old PC. The general consensus from everyone that commented was the same. I pasted a link to your page into a comment I submitted to their article. Too funny. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Grayson Peddie Said:

    Yeah, Microsoft must be paying the author to write the article about installing $150 Windows 8 in an old PC and pay $55 for a kiosk software. What a loser.

  • Gonstradamus Said:

    If you're keeping an old PC, you're keeping any Windows licenses that it came with. Upgrading to Win 8.1 was a suggestion but most of the tips in this article work with VIsta and up. Do I think Linux could be a solution to setting up a kiosk? Yes. But not if you need certain Windows-only or Microsoft-only applications on the kiosk. There's a reason Linux never made it mainstream on the desktop. Smirkiness and inability to understand the average user were a few of the factors. Judging from the comments to this article, those are still issues.

  • Dave Said:

    Gonstradamus, here are my replies: You wrote, "If you're keeping an old PC, you're keeping any Windows licenses that it came with." Of course you are.... In theory your "new" Windows computer came with its own whether you wanted it or not. We call that M$ taxation. You couldn't transfer the old one even if you wanted to. You said, "Upgrading to Win 8.1 was a suggestion but most of the tips in this article work with VIsta and up." Fair. I will accept that. You said, " Do I think Linux could be a solution to setting up a kiosk? Yes. But not if you need certain Windows-only or Microsoft-only applications on the kiosk." Uh, it's a Kiosk? What software are you talking about? The only thing I would envision a Kiosk needing to run is a web browser. The only M$ ONLY software I am familiar with is manufacturing automation software, like RSLogix 5000, or OPC servers. BTW, M$ doesn't run Linux ONLY software either. You said, "There's a reason Linux never made it mainstream on the desktop. Smirkiness and inability to understand the average user were a few of the factors." Actually, I find the "average user" is either unaware of Linux entirely or has a misconception about how difficult it is to use. My 12yr daughter uses Ubuntu 13.04. I never "taught" her how to use it and it was easier to install than Windows. Her computer teacher thought she must be good at computers 'cause she uses Linux.... Another misconception. You said, "Judging from the comments to this article, those are still issues." I would say judging from your comments, the misconceptions about Linux still continue. BTW, all my comments are in good fun. I do appreciate your reply and do understand where you were coming from.

  • Scott Said:

    If you want a simple-to-use, completely free, totally customizable web kiosk here's an option: http://links.sanicki.com/sanickiosk

  • Allen Said:

    Nice article and Gonstradamus Take a international flight on United Airlines the movies you watch are ran on a linux web kiosk you will not notice it unless it has a problem and reboots then you see Tux taking care of business and within seconds your back to watching movies, listening to music or tracking your flight progress across the Pacific. Smart business like United is using linux to do things cheaper and more effectively. I love the idea of web kiosk I work in a school so 90% of what our elementary students do is webbased we still have the 10% hold over's who want to run cd games from the 90's that only run on windows machines. I'm working at switching our old XP computers to linux but still have the issue of these games. Can I create a kiosk that is not just a browser based system and will possibly run wine to run the old win95 games the teachers use like preschool games. We don't want to pay the fees to get access to the online version when these games do the trick for simple educational/entertainment value for the students. We don't want to forced to buy machines that will run win8 to use compatibility mode to run these games.

  • Jan Said:

    Another alternative is Porteus Kiosk: http://porteus-kiosk.org/ many people recommend it over the web as very fast and secure.

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