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Old 06-27-2005, 03:28 AM   #1
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Linux on public computer

Hello, we have a public computer at work which you can use for net surfing and people keep changing it's options so we thought about installing a linux on it to prevent people from changing options on their own.
So i installed debian on it, but is it possible to only allow users to use web browser and everything else would require root password? Because you can still change background and other things that you shouldn't.
I also tried to look for a more suitable distro for public computer use but couldn't find any, so it's either debian or win2k/xp.
Old 06-27-2005, 05:42 AM   #2
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If you use another window manager than KDE or Gome, people won't be able to change the background
but will have a clean interface. Try icewm, for instance, it works just like XP, with a taskbar and a launch
button. In the 'Themes', you even have one option which makes it look like WinXP.
Users can't change much things, only root can.

Old 06-27-2005, 08:08 AM   #3
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Works better than KDE/Gnome, thanks.
Old 06-27-2005, 10:20 AM   #4
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Hmmm, afaik, if you add different users, EACH one will have his/her own options. IOW, the browser will have ONLY the properties each different user chose and none other. Of course, i don't use KDE or Gnome, so i can't opine about it; but i would assume it's the same. I use IceWM and my wife uses Fluxbox, our options in Firefox, Thunderbird, and XFE are different and remain so.

Last edited by macondo; 06-27-2005 at 10:21 AM.
Old 06-27-2005, 11:39 AM   #5
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You should look into purchasing a copy of Opera and run it in kiosk mode.
Old 06-27-2005, 03:56 PM   #6
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You can also set X to fire up that app only... no wm, no widgets, no nothing. You'd just create a .xinitrc file for the user and make it contain:

exec firefox

or whatever app you're using. In the above case, all you'll see on the screen is firefox and its menus. NO titlebar, no borders, no nothing. In some cases you can specifiy the screen size (1024x768, etc) for the app, but that's not always the case.
Old 06-27-2005, 04:02 PM   #7
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Another option is to use a LiveCD distribution like Knoppix or Mepis. Put this computer on the outside of a firewall so only web browsing is allowed through (i.e. to prevent users from trying to access your internal computer network).

You'd want the computer to have a fast CD-ROM drive, but no hard drive. Users can change settings and such on a temporary basis, but there's no permanent storage so all settings reset to default just by rebooting the computer.
Old 06-27-2005, 04:06 PM   #8
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A script that deletes a user and recreates it after logoff might also be helpful, to prevent bookmarks and browser settings from being messed with.
Old 06-27-2005, 04:38 PM   #9
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if u set no write permission I think that u could use even gnome or KDE
Old 06-27-2005, 05:35 PM   #10
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KDE has a kiosk tool. As does Firefox.

Icewm is my desktop of choice much faster and cleaner than KDE/Gnome. The only way to change things is by editing the text files the settings are based on. You can even get rid of all the menu shortcuts and only leave the webbrowser. Then use Firefox and set it up in kiosk mode so noone can change any of its settings.

The KDE Extragear - Kiosk Admin Tool

FireFox (Firebird/Phoenix) Kiosk Browser

"KDE Kiosk Mode HOWTO"

Last edited by craigevil; 06-27-2005 at 05:38 PM.
Old 06-27-2005, 05:52 PM   #11
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if you make a user As preferences owned by user B and only give user A read permissions. you can effectively prevent that user from changing anything. (it would make sense for user B to be root, since you'd have to use superuser priveleges to set up such a scheme anyway.

I think something along those lines would work.
Old 06-27-2005, 09:09 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Ipolit
if u set no write permission I think that u could use even gnome or KDE
Setting no write permissions would be problematic with the creation of temporary files, pipes, and sockets, all of which browsers and X need to work.


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