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Re: [vox] Public Access Terminal ("kiosk")
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Re: [vox] Public Access Terminal ("kiosk")

Quoting Bill Kendrick (nbs@sonic.net):

> Other suggestions I've received (from SVLUG mailing list, specifcially)
> have been "just buy a ThinkNIC" and "Use Lindows."  Both of which are
> unacceptable, due to cost (i.e., more than $0.00).

Aside from which, LindowsOS would be a terrible choice, for quite a few
reasons.  But I'm not surprised that you got mostly bad advice on the
SVLUG list.

Practically any current distribution could do OK, _if_ you're willing to
spend time doing custom desktop configuration.  E.g., have your display
manager have a banner telling people they can use login guest, password
guest; create and populate a button bar, set the Web browser's initial 
page and bookmarks, create prelogin and postlogin scripts to ensure that
the guest account gets cleaned out and set up for the next user, and
such things.  Setting up quota appropriately would probably be required,
too.  Maybe some version of Karsten Self's CSS template.  And the
inevitable mandatory plugins and utilities.  Then, of course, you'd want
to somehow package up that custom-configuration work and ensure that it
gets included in system loads.

We had to do all of that with the public X11 machines at the CoffeeNet,
http://linuxmafia.com/coffeenet/ .  Tweaking the user interface was a 
fairly painstaking task, but paid off.  At the time, the work was based
around fvwm and tkGoodStuff, but that's because we did it in 1995.  

You'd probably want to write (and make easily accessible) some Web-based
documentation of your software/desktop configuration, such as we did for
the CoffeeNet, here:


The bad news is that all of that is _work_.  You'll be tempted to just
put throw distribution's default install on, and not _do_ that work.
But our experience at the CoffeeNet suggest that it makes a big
difference to the public's perception.

By contrast, the Internet Lounge at the 2002 World Science Fiction
Convention in San Jose had about forty or so machines (including some of
mine) loaded with generic RH 7.3 via kickstart floppies.  The advantage
was that it was quick to put together, but there was a lot of
unhappiness and resistance from users who walked in:  They'd get lost
among all the screen clutter.  They'd find Konqueror more readily than
any other browser, and then proclaim that "Linux sucks" when it couldn't
deal with some banking site's Javascript.  They'd fill up /home/guest
and /tmp with crap and make the system unusable for the next user
(because nobody had bothered to set up a postlogin script to clean up
after them).  Problems like that.  We found those things and fixed them
at the CoffeeNet by inviting naive users in and watching where they 
ran into rough spots.  Which is really the only way.

Note that I don't mean the scripts are literally called prelogin and
postlogin, but it's something like that.  I believe they're part of the
xdm structure.  They're scripts run by the system just before letting
the user login, and just after he logs out, and you use them for
user-related housecleaning.

> He and Pete are leaning towards Mozilla, mostly since it's "more well-known"
> (although honestly, I know very few people outside of a few Linux users
> who actually use Mozilla -- the rest use Internet Explorer)

Mozilla's prettier than Galeon, and may be just a hair more familiar to
people.  It's a tad slower.  Both are equally standards-compliant;
Mozilla has the Mail/News stuff fully integrated -- if it's even
relevant to this kiosk.  (Galeon will call that Mozilla module, though, 
given the appropriate URI.)

You know, you might want to use Libranet (http://www.libranet.com/) as
your foundation load, for a couple of reasons:

o  Very current, full-featured, including the nasty proprietary plugin stuff
o  Based on and compatible with Debian 3.0

Like SuSE, they really want to sell you boxed sets (or for-money
downloads of ISOs).  Accordingly, they don't offer the current version
(2.7) for download, only disk1 "essential" of v. 2.0.  But the 2.0 1-CD
version is pretty darned good, in itself, and also I was able to snag
the late beta 2-CD download of 2.7 while it was still available.  If you
like, I can make it available somewhere.

Cheers,                                              "Java is COBOL 2.0."
Rick Moen                                              -- Deirdre Saoirse Moen
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