September 02, 2009

Linux on public computer

New post on forum gives some information on best practice for using redhat or ubuntu as public kiosk. Seems to be a big fan of Clonezilla.

This thread is located at:

Here is the message that has just been posted:
At my university, we almost exclusively use those machines you listed (mostly 745s and 755s, a few 760s in service). They are very easy to get running in Linux, although for our labs we prettymuch exclusively use Redhat. Should be a good platform to get going, almost everything is supported out of the box.

First off, if you're using the Radeon cards, I'd just use the open source drivers (unless you really, REALLY need 3d support). You'll get to that part soon enough I'm sure. If you're using Intel graphics, the default drivers are fine (and pretty good at that).

There is a very good hard drive image cloning and management suite called Clonezilla. Check it out here:

Clonezilla (

It's basically open sourced Ghost, and has a lot of very nice features (multicasting, save to/restore from SSH, PXE booting, etc). Should be robust enough for your needs.

For burning software, the old standbys (Brasero for GNOME, K3B for KDE) are good enough. I've not set up either for a public environment, but I hear KDE has better features for that kind of use (public computers and kiosks). If you want KDE, I'd recommend installing Kubuntu, it's probably the easiest way to get up and running fast.

I would probably not recommend Blackbox for a public client, it's too 'different' and the public at large probably won't like having to relearn how to open applications. IceWM might be a good choice if you want to avoid GNOME or KDE, it (can be made) very similar to Windows interfaces, and should be easy for users to pick up quickly.

There's a post on the ubuntu forums about this:

Ubuntu for a Public Computer - Ubuntu Forums (

You're probably going to do something to the extent of setting up a small group of machines with guest accounts. Shouldn't be too bad. You'll probably want to learn some scripting (don't worry it's pretty easy to pick up if you don't), and write some scripts to sanitize the /home/guest (or whatever) directory when users log out. That way you don't overload the computer with crap.

Posted by staff at September 2, 2009 11:08 AM