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Old 08-04-2006, 05:07 AM   #1
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Web browsing _only_ which distro to start with?

Hi there,

I'm a relative Linux newbie but I've successfully installed a few distros, I've added the odd package and I'm not afraid of a command line. The problem is all the distros I've found have more than I need!

What I am trying to acheive is to build a small form factor PC with no hard drive that I can give to my mum to browse the internet and view attachments (basic files only, PDF, JPEGs etc.), no need to save files, just access web-based email services etc.

All I want is for the box to boot up and display a fullscreen web browser (Firefox) pointing at a specific page. I don't want email, I don't want any menus I don't even want to be able to launch another browser window. Just 1 version of Firefox that ideally shuts down the PC when it is closed.

Is this too much to ask from Linux, every distro I've tried has far more menus and links than I need I really can't stress enough that I only want it to be a web browser when it boots up! =) (I might need some other bits behind the scenes e.g. VNC so I can help with upgrades etc.)

Does anyone have any experience of doing this or can they suggest a good starting point? Is Linux even the right place to start?!?!

Many thanks in advance!

Old 08-04-2006, 05:31 AM   #2
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Location: Townsville, Australia
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Let me get this right, you want a distro to do web browsing Only, and when the browser is closed it shuts the PC Down? doesn't happen, unless you wanna write your own script for it. you have to shut the browswer first and then turn the machine off, or go into a terminal and type poweroff However you can get simple distros that ANYONE can use so I'm sure she can go to the start icon and click the firefox icon or Shutdown, here are a few for your consideration.

I reccomend Beatrix for this purpose all it has is a Word processor, BASIC email and Firefox

feather Linux

Vector Linux


Puppy Linux



you can find more here

Those are all the small distributions that would suit what your looking for.

However ANY distro will do what you want a few nice loooking distros that I reccomend that will serve your purpose are as follows:




hope this helps,

Old 08-05-2006, 01:02 PM   #3
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You could have it so that the machine will automatically login a specified person and upon login automatically startup your browser. Now for the shutdown you could probably write a batch script that would look to see if firefox was running. If it was then machine should shutdown.
Old 08-05-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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You could write a script with:
su - user -c 'startx /usr/bin/mozilla-firefox'
and run this script from inittab a single time. Of course, you should also disable the starting of the usual display manager.

To have a better environment, you should actually start a window manager (instead of directly Firefox) such as Matchbox (a WM that puts all windows fullscreen) and disable any panels, so that you can be sure that Firefox is fullscreen; then you'll be able to launch other windows if need be (you, not your mother).

Old 08-05-2006, 05:53 PM   #5
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Another option is KioskCD. It's based on Damn Small Linux, and it has Mozilla Firefox and...that's it! Just Mozilla Firefox. No hard drive is even necessary, but you could install onto a hard drive if you wanted.
Old 08-05-2006, 07:42 PM   #6
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Hey Mods, can we get a "The Ultimate Ultra-Super-Xtreme 'which distro' MegaThread" going since this darn question is asked several times per day here?
Old 08-07-2006, 03:31 AM   #7
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Thanks all!

Your responses are very gratefully receieved.

As a LINUX newbie trying to find the right distribution to start with and avoid having to switch distros later down the line due to limitations or bloat is a very difficult task.

There aren't many friendly ways to compare each of the distros without trawling page after page of web sites and forums so drawing on your experiences has saved me a lot of time.

Your links have opened up plenty of new options and both BeatrIX and KioskCD look like potential solutions.

I also agree that an Uber thread or comparission page would be a great idea and would stop people like me posting threads like this or at least getting to the point of having a shortlist first!

Many thanks all,

Deep Fat


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