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Old 12-03-2007, 04:23 AM   #1
Registered: Mar 2006
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Linux distro with just a web browser (like a thin client)

I'm just curious. Is there a Linux Distro that doesn't load X, and just loads a web browser thats easy to install? Like, I just burn and ISO, and pop it in easy? Sort of like a Thin Client. Preferably one that has Flash and Java already? Or is this something that I would have to put together myself?

I got the idea because I have a couple of old systems, and I was thinking that I might be able to use them to listen to music, and possibly videos by using Jinzora, TVersity, ect.

I already know how to do something similar in XP, by replacing the default shell with a web browser. Should I just use Windows? hehehe (that should get the ball rolling)
Old 12-03-2007, 05:50 AM   #2
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I remember this project, but it seems to have been abandoned. At the very least, it's proof that this sort of thing does indeed exist. I would imagine that by analyzing the CD it wouldn't be too hard to make your own up-to-date clone.

Last edited by win32sux; 12-03-2007 at 05:52 AM.
Old 12-03-2007, 06:09 AM   #3
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To use a regular graphic browser, you have to have X or something equivalent---but you don't have to have a full desktop environment like KDE or Gnome.

Replace the shell with a browser? How does that work? (They do two totally different functions.)
Old 12-03-2007, 06:31 AM   #4
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you have to have X or something equivalent
Yea... If you don't want X, you might try framebuffer, or last choice... Text based browser (lynx), in which you can't get far with it nowadays...

Hope this helps!!!
Old 12-03-2007, 08:42 AM   #5
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OK then a distro that doesn't load that full desktop environment like KDE or Gnome then.

Thank Win32sux. That project looks dead, but I went into the forum, and there was a link for a more active project. I could find if it has Java or not, but it can be put on a USB flash drive. This would be very nice for public terminals, and using a friends computer.

In XP to change the default shell to whatever go to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

and change shell to whatever. You can create a batch file that will run certain programs also, but they need to be in the same folder as the batch file. If you have a copy of XP that is prior to SP2 then you can use the old progman.exe

If you want to see what is like then just. Go to the Start button, hit the Turn off computer button, then hold down ctrl alt shift, and hit cancel. To get explorer going agian, hit ctrl alt delete and use the task manager. File, run explorer.

I played around with this for about a day. It was fun.

Last edited by giantjoebot; 12-03-2007 at 10:01 AM.
Old 12-03-2007, 02:29 PM   #6
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There is a better text browser than lynx. It is called w3m

You can install arch linux. With arch linux you can do a custom install. Just select base system when you get to the install packages section.

Then, whenever you need the X server and a lightweight desktop like xfce, blackbox or fluxbox, you can install them.

If you need help installing and configuring the arch linux, visit

It's explains everything you need to do.

Also, it is fast, it is optimized for i586 systems.
Old 12-03-2007, 02:48 PM   #7
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For minimal "browser-X", just do a "xinit firefox" on console, instead of "startx" or running a login manager.
Old 12-03-2007, 11:35 PM   #8
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Well Webconverger isn't going to work. It was fun to play with, but wouldn't run any web apps like Jinzora. Plus there is no support for wireless NIC.

As for the other suggestions, I may be too much of a newb at this point to do them, but it sounds like fun, and may be a good learning experience. I'll give it a try when I have more time.

What about using PCLinuxOS? I heard that it comes with tools for creating your own live CD, and built in support for formated that other Distro's don't come with. Or is that way over my head at this point?
Old 12-04-2007, 01:41 AM   #9
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It sounds like you are looking for a Linux distro to run on old systems with a thin client GUI.
Have you tried Slackware or Debian with a thin client like xfce, fluxbox, icewm, etc.
Or you can try one of the small stripped down distros like Damn Small Linux, Puppy or Feather?
Some can be run from a CD or USB stick.
Old 12-04-2007, 08:45 AM   #10
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I've tried DSL and Puppy before, with mixed results on different hardware.

I just figured that if all I wanted was a browser, then the leanest fastest possible way to do that would be to just run a browser, and nothing else. But I have yet to find a Distro that does that. What do thin clients use?
Old 12-04-2007, 10:07 AM   #11
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Thin clients do have want you want, a web browser and connectivity software to the server. More advance thin clients can have an operating system
such as linux. Also most thin clients are setup to access a central server where all the applications are installed. If you have the money and time to setup a client/application server. By all means go for it.

As the members said, just install a lightweigt desktop like xfce,fluxbox or blackbox.The last two have no icons on the desktop. To access any applications, just right-click on the desktop.

Here are a couple of lightweight distros to try

Both are ubuntu variants.

Last edited by dv502; 12-04-2007 at 10:17 AM.
Old 12-04-2007, 12:13 PM   #12
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Cool, Thanks. I'll give those distros a try.
Old 12-06-2007, 10:33 AM   #13
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I'm joining the party late, but you may also be interested in a minimal installation of Debian, AntiX (built on Mepis and uses the Debian repositories) or Ubuntu.

A detailed guide for setting up a minimal system on Ubuntu is available at

On my installation, AntiX uses only 22 MB on boot when using the already configured Fluxbox desktop.

Last edited by teddyt; 12-06-2007 at 10:35 AM.


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