ElectroPulse
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:54 am

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:21 pm

Hello, all!

I work as a student worker in the IT department at a nursing home. I showed my boss the Raspberry Pi, and he seems quite interested. We have been thinking about some different potential applicatications for them, such as using them for inservice computers, timeclock computers, and replacements for Thinclients (remote desktop computers that connect into the server to do work). So… the only problem is that neither of us have very much experience with Linux (I did manage to set up a Linux Kiosk OS LiveCD, but that was using a pre-built Slax distro, and editing some files in it).

Anyway, we figure that if we could figure it out, these $35 computers would make great, low-cost, low-energy computer replacements!

Alright, down to my question: Do any of you have recommendations for some good Linux how-to guides for putting together Linux distros? I am pretty much a complete beginner, and I would like to learn much more about linux (a lot cheaper than windows, and a lot lighter on system resources too ). From what I have gathered, it is basically a process of pulling different pieces of the OS from different repositories, but I am completely at a loss of where to start, what different parts of the OS does, and really everything else about Linux.

So what I mean by a Kiosk OS, I am meaning an OS that doesn't start up to a login page or a desktop… It just starts up to a pre-defined webpage, and does not allow users to navigate anywhere other than where links on the page allow them to go (so I'd need to find a browser that doesn't have the menus along the top, or else find a plugin that disables them). If any of you have had experience with doing this, your wisdom is welcome!

I figure we've got a few months until we can buy multiple, and I am planning on trying to get my hands on one from the first batch (if I can order one before they sell out, at least), so I have plenty of time to read up and screw around with emulators.

Anyway, the reason I am asking here is because I figure that since the Pi is run with Arm, there would be a difference between it and the process of setting up normal Linux...

So yea, if any of you have some general Linux-for-newbies guide recommendations, do let me know  (and yes, I know how to use Google, I am simply asking if any of you know of some guides that are particularly easy to understand)

Thanks!

hvc123
Posts: 81
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:54 am

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:34 pm

any distro that runs on arm to be honest....

i personnaly would go with arch but that may be a tad in the deep end. but there will be hoards of people upping there o/s pre-built.

as for kiosk mode browsing you could try https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/r-kiosk/

and instead of running a window manager you can use (i think of the top of my head) xinit --some-options /sbin/firefox-bin (or wherever the binary is)

ElectroPulse
Posts: 54
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:42 pm


hvc123 said:

any distro that runs on arm to be honest….

i personnaly would go with arch but that may be a tad in the deep end. but there will be hoards of people upping there o/s pre-built.

as for kiosk mode browsing you could try https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/r-kiosk/

and instead of running a window manager you can use (i think of the top of my head) xinit –some-options /sbin/firefox-bin (or wherever the binary is)


Ok, so you're saying that for what I am trying to do, any Linux distro would work?

Alright, from my limited knowledge of Linux, I have gathered xinit is a file that starts right at the beginning, so if I add the firefox path to it (with some parameters, as you said), then it should boot straight to Firefox (sorta like adding it to the startup folder in Windows)? And I'm guessing it won't even load the desktop (unlike Windows)? I'll do some more looking around for that then, if that is correct. Thanks!

gimliflea
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:17 pm

I would start by getting a spare old machine and loading either debian or fedora on it.

Don't get involved in discussions about which distro is best. I say deb or fed because both will be supported by rpi. Don't worry about arm vs x86 the diference will make little if any difference to you.

If you dont have a spare old machine you can dual boot on an existing machine. This is not hard but as it means  changing partitions some people find it a little frightening. Just make a good back up first.

Then you can set up your thin client and test it. You might want to try lighter weight browsers than Firefox, Chromium/Chrome is a bit lighter and in my experience better than FF. But lighter OS browsers are available.

All linuxes boot to shell and then run an init script which usually start X and then a Desktop environment. You would edit this to start your browser pointing to your server login or whatever.

ElectroPulse
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Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:54 am

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:27 pm

gimliflea said:


I would start by getting a spare old machine and loading either debian or fedora on it.

Don't get involved in discussions about which distro is best. I say deb or fed because both will be supported by rpi. Don't worry about arm vs x86 the diference will make little if any difference to you.

If you dont have a spare old machine you can dual boot on an existing machine. This is not hard but as it means  changing partitions some people find it a little frightening. Just make a good back up first.

Then you can set up your thin client and test it. You might want to try lighter weight browsers than Firefox, Chromium/Chrome is a bit lighter and in my experience better than FF. But lighter OS browsers are available.

All linuxes boot to shell and then run an init script which usually start X and then a Desktop environment. You would edit this to start your browser pointing to your server login or whatever.



Alright, thanks for the response!

Yea, I've messed around with repartitioning HDs to dual boot a little… enough to decide that I'd rather experiment with an older computer than on my main So yea, I actually have my old computer setup with a Linux OS for running a Minecraft server, but I never did get it running like I wanted to, so I don't mind blowing that install away (I'd have to anyway if I ever decided to pick it up again…)

Anyway, the Thinclient idea was a seperate plan, that would require some sort of remote desktop client software installed on the computer… that's lower on my list at the moment. Setting up a Kiosk would be for running a timeclock or for letting nurses do their required in-services.

Anyway, glad to hear that Arm vs. x86 won't make much if a difference! What about for programs that I want to install on linux? Like, would I need a special version of Firefox (or Chrome, or whatever other browser we choose to use), as well as a special version of the plugin to run as a kiosk? I am wondering because I saw somewhere that it said that the RPi won't support x86 applications… (I'd also like to know for my home RPi whenever I can get one... I think it would be cool to be able to run some of the old dos games I used to play on it, if possible).

MarshallBanana
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:37 pm

hi electropulse

what helped me tremendously understanding linux and how that system works was installing a system with "gentoo" linux, back in the day (actually i still use it exclusively on my netbook).

doing the manual installing there (they have a nice handbook online http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/h.....xml?full=1 for example for the x86 version) instead of using a distro with the "insert cd -> click install -> ready" sort of way gave me a good understanding of my system, what part in linux is used for what, and so on.

YMMV, but for me it was a great learning experience slowly getting on a personal relationship with my operating system DD

i think "linux from scratch" is also on a similar level, i always wanted to try it but didn't have the time...

so if you have the time and a spare system where you want to experiment a bit, you can also try this way

else, just reading the link IMHO should also provide a nice little starter into a (not THE, each distro has little differences) linux way

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:40 pm

Alright, thanks fo rthe tip, Marshall, I'll take a look at it

Jock in a Frock
Posts: 72
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:43 pm

No need to worry about setting up a dual-boot system with your current PC to experiment with.

Download Virtualbox from http://www.virtualbox.org and install a Virtual Machine with a Linux distro. You can then run the Linux VM alongside Windows.

Have a look at Liam Frazer's tutorials on you tube (linked from here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/for.....8;search=1),

Liam goes through the process of setting up VirtualBox, and installing a distro. This should be enough to get your feet wet.

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grumpyoldgit
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:51 pm

There's a young lad on here called Liam who has been producing some really good Youtube tutorials. He starts off with a Debian Linux install.

http://www.raspberrypi.org/for.....-tutorials

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:21 pm

Thanks for the replies!

@Jock: Lol... I didn't even think of that. I actually have Virtualbox installed on my comp and I have used it on several ocassions. I guess I had pushed Virtualbox out of my mind when thinking about the RPi because I was going to use an emulator to run the OS under (before I was told that Arm vs. x86 wouldn't matter a whole lot for installing stuff).

@Grumpy: Thanks for the suggestion! One problem... where are the videos? I've been looking all over that link and can't find a link to their youtube page (perhaps the link in the OP contained it previously? It's not working for me)


ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:32 pm

Grumpyoldgit said:


http://www.youtube.com/raspber.....itutorials


Ah... Ok, ty!

Btw, I still have a question from a few posts above:

Anyway, glad to hear that Arm vs. x86 won't make much if a difference! What about for programs that I want to install on linux? Like, would I need a special version of Firefox (or Chrome, or whatever other browser we choose to use), as well as a special version of the plugin to run as a kiosk? I am wondering because I saw somewhere that it said that the RPi won't support x86 applications… (I'd also like to know for my home RPi whenever I can get one… I think it would be cool to be able to run some of the old dos games I used to play on it, if possible).

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grumpyoldgit
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:47 pm

I have a really decrepit PC, about 9 years old now and it was really slowing down. A couple of years ago I completely wiped it and installed Ubuntu. I haven't looked back. The PC zips along now. All the standard functions you would wish to carry out have a Linux variation or there is an equivalent. With Ubuntu most of the software you would need is available through the Software Centre, which is an option on the menu. With Debian, which is the OS that Liam gives a tutorial on, the application is called Synaptic. There is even a Windows emulator called Wine, though I have only resorted to that on a couple of occasional when I needed a specific program. Some people swear by it though i have tended to swear at it!

kme
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:51 pm

ElectroPulse said:

Anyway, glad to hear that Arm vs. x86 won't make much if a difference!
It makes a hell of a difference. Any program you know so far you can start to rename "X for x86". They won't run on an ARM device (maybe you can emulate a few, but that's the exception. Now you'll need "X for ARM": firefox for ARM, gcc for ARM and so on.

Fortunately the is a huge range of Linux programs and utilities available for ARM, but basically they only share their name and look&feel with their x86 cousins.

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:51 pm

Grumpyoldgit said:


I have a really decrepit PC, about 9 years old now and it was really slowing down. A couple of years ago I completely wiped it and installed Ubuntu. I haven't looked back. The PC zips along now. All the standard functions you would wish to carry out have a Linux variation or there is an equivalent. With Ubuntu most of the software you would need is available through the Software Centre, which is an option on the menu. With Debian, which is the OS that Liam gives a tutorial on, the application is called Synaptic. There is even a Windows emulator called Wine, though I have only resorted to that on a couple of occasional when I needed a specific program. Some people swear by it though i have tended to swear at it!


Lol, yea… I was trying to get some games running with Wine under Ubuntu on my old laptop one time, and I did my share of swearing at it

That was actually not my question… What I am meaning is this: In the FAQ it says

"Will it run WINE (or Windows, or other x86 software)?

No."

I am wondering if this means that I will need to find Arm versions of everything… Like, do I need to find an Arm version of Firefox?

EDIT: @KME: Ok, that's what I had a suspicion of, and was somewhat surprised when the statement was made that it wouldn't make much of a difference for me...

Now, just wondering, how difficult is it to port programs? I read somewhere that "With a little care, the average DOS application can be easily ported to the Linux system." I assume that "easily" is a very relative term... Also, how would the process differ from porting DOS programs to ARM Linux vs. x86 Linux? (I am mainly thinking of a couple of old Dos games that I grew up with... I think it would be neat to have them on a little device that I can plug into the TV and play with my dad)

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grumpyoldgit
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:13 am

To be quite honest I just don't know as I've not yet had access to the Pi or any other ARM. My understanding, based on the Linux experience I have had is that  standard applications will have been ported and will be available through the repositories.

hvc123
Posts: 81
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:15 am

hmmm lighter web browser may/may not have the plugins you require.

from my understanding xinit starts the app that you would normally start under a window manager i.e. gnome,kde,xfce

as the pi only has limited memory i wouldnt even install a window manager and just run xinit from the terminal

im gunna get flamed for this comment.......

all distros have basically the same file structure and configs there is a few diferences i.e package management, differnt locations for certain things different paths and a few other things, but to be honest the easiest installer will be a debian install if you can cope with bloat.

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:31 am

Ok, thanks for the responses!

Alright, so I will probably stick with Firefox or Chrome (if it has the required plugin).

Also, one question: If you aren't running with a desktop environment installed, how do you find the packages you need? (EDIT: Nvm, Liam tells in the second tutorial about Synaptic)

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:14 am

Well, I've been working on this, and am stumped at the Flash part… One of the sites we are wanting to make a Kiosk for requires flash… I am wanting to update it, but I can't seem to figure it out.

I've tried "apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree" and it says that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or is only available from another source… I have added a couple of other repositories and done the "apt-get update" command, but even then it gives me the same message… how do you tell what repositories contain certain packages? Also, I have read that Flash Player 11 will be slow on the Pi… how do you go about installing just Flash Player 10, rather than the newest?

Also, are there any other Flash packages by other names in the package manager? I've searched, but haven't run across anything yet...

Thanks!

roelfrenkema
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:17 pm

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:08 am

Drop the flash it's really not worth the hassle. You will be constantly busy with updates and fencing off hackers beside the fact that is is bloatware and will eat your memory. HTML5 is the way you want to go.

roelfrenkema
Posts: 105
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:22 am

ElectroPulse said:


Ok, thanks for the responses!

Alright, so I will probably stick with Firefox or Chrome (if it has the required plugin).

Also, one question: If you aren't running with a desktop environment installed, how do you find the packages you need? (EDIT: Nvm, Liam tells in the second tutorial about Synaptic)



Aptitude from CLI alternatively apt-get of even dpkg

roelfrenkema
Posts: 105
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:22 am

ElectroPulse said:


Ok, thanks for the responses!

Alright, so I will probably stick with Firefox or Chrome (if it has the required plugin).

Also, one question: If you aren't running with a desktop environment installed, how do you find the packages you need? (EDIT: Nvm, Liam tells in the second tutorial about Synaptic)



Aptitude from CLI alternatively apt-get of even dpkg

ElectroPulse
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:54 am

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:25 pm

roelfrenkema said:


Drop the flash it's really not worth the hassle. You will be constantly busy with updates and fencing off hackers beside the fact that is is bloatware and will eat your memory. HTML5 is the way you want to go.


Thanks for the reply.

Unfortunately, that is not an option. As I previously mentioned, the in-service website that the nurses need to go to requires flash being installed on the computer (I honestly haven't seen it on there, but it is listed in the requirements, so I am planning on installing it.)

So... anyone know how?

roelfrenkema
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:17 pm

Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:57 pm

See the codec thread you can't due to royalty issue's.

ElectroPulse
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Re: Distro-Building (Kiosk OS) - Help?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:30 pm

roelfrenkema said:


See the codec thread you can't due to royalty issue's.



I just spent quite some time searching... I have yet to find anywhere that says that Flash cannot be used on the RPi.

Can anyone confirm or deny this? I have read numerous people talking about using it on the RPi, but never seen anyone say you couldn't...

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