What exactly is Porteus Kiosk?
Porteus Kiosk is a lightweight Linux operating system which has been restricted to allow only use of the web browser. Furthermore, the browser has been locked down to prevent users from tampering with settings or downloading and installing software. When the kiosk boots it automatically opens Firefox or Google Chrome browser to your chosen home page. The history is not kept, no passwords are saved, and many menu items have been disabled for total security. When the browser is restarted, all caches are cleared and it reopens automatically with a clean session to ensure no trace of history is left.
Please mind that despite the small size Porteus Kiosk is a full operating system which replaces Windows (or any other OS) during installation. While evaluating our product we recommend the instalaltion on removable devices or in a virtual environment.
Usage and purpose
Our system can be used as internet kiosk or other publicly available web terminal in schools, libraries, cafes, hotels, offices, tourist centers and the like. Another possibility is to use Porteus Kiosk for displaying information, advertisements, pictures or streaming videos to digital signage deployments. It can also act as a diskless (if booted over a network) workstation in companies that use browsers as their main working tool, such as customer support centers.
The kiosk will run on both 32-bit (i486 or greater) and 64-bit (x86_64) systems and can be installed on CD/DVD, USB flash drive, hard drive, or any other bootable storage media such as Compact Flash or SD/MMC memory cards. Porteus Kiosk is extremely lightweight in terms of size and used resources. The default image is around 50MB while the size of your custom kiosk ISO will depend on your choice of the browser and extra components such as Adobe Flash, Java, additional fonts and other.
Touchscreen hardware is supported out of the box if opensource drivers are included in the Linux kernel. Certain models do not work or have limited functionality so integration of proprietary drivers like ELO/eGalax/PQLabs/POSTouch/other with Porteus Kiosk installation ISO is necessary. This could be done by following our kiosk modification guide or we could do this job for you through the commercial customized kiosk builds service. Please query the touchscreen manufacturer about the Linux compatibility before you buy the hardware.
Porteus Kiosk supports nearly 5 thousand inkjet, laser and thermal printers attached directly to the kiosk with usb, parallel or serial cable or connected through the network. A full list of currently suppored models can be find under this link.
ARM devices are currently not supported by Porteus Kiosk although this may change in the future.
Ten reasons to use Porteus Kiosk operating system
1) It's free and based on open source components
Our operating system is available free for private users, companies and public institutions under the terms of the GPL license. It can be installed on an unlimited number of PCs and used for as long as you want. GPL compliance means that modifications on the source code level can be performed without any limitations or restrictions.
Individual packages and system components - for e.g. Google Chrome, Adobe Flash, Citrix Receiver, wireless/GPU firmware - are provided with their own licenses. Every kiosk ISO downloaded from our site includes a copy of the GPL license which is placed in the /docs folder inside the ISO. Other licenses are embedded in respective modules.
2) It's locked down by default
Porteus Kiosk is ready to be exposed on a public network without fear of being modified or manipulated by inside users or outside intruders. The only authorities capable of making changes are: the kiosk owner (administrator) or the Porteus Team in case kiosks are signed to the automatic updates service. Our role is to make this feature a top priority and fix all discovered issues as soon as possible. You do not have to be involved in this task at all - when the 'automatic updates' service is active we do this job ourselves and let you focus on evolving your own business.
3) It's secured by design
a) Porteus Kiosk is distributed in the 'isohybrid' format and even when installed on writable media, the operating system is still burnt onto the target device in the same way as it would be burnt on a CD or DVD. Utilizing this method enhances the security and stability of the kiosk by preventing unauthorized manipulation of the system components.
b) Kiosk security is hardened when the automatic updates service is enabled. During startup kiosk does md5sum check of all system components and stops booting when there is a mismatch with registered values.
c) Our system belongs to the Linux family and is immune to all kind of virii, trojans and malware which can be a real danger to other operating systems. While surfing the web with Porteus Kiosk you are safe in anything you do.
d) By default all data is copied to PC memory during system boot. This approach has several advantages:
- The kiosk is perfectly stable during the session and does not depend on reading from booting media which is powered down entirely. When startup is finished the kiosk turns into a diskless terminal letting you save on energy bills and helping the environment.
- Accidental power loss does not do any harm to our system, once power supply is back kiosk boots into its preconfigured state.
- Porteus Kiosk can be considered a "read-only" operating system. Temporary data is saved to the virtual system in RAM and never on the hd/flash/SSD drives ensuring maximum life expectancy. Storage media devices are active only for very short time when the system boots.
4) Guarantees the privacy
Our project respects the privacy of kiosk owners and kiosk users.
a) A system configuration tool is provided with the ISO and performs all system customizations on your own PC. Kiosk settings (including sensitive ones like ssh/vnc/wifi passwords, firefox homepage, URL of the wallpaper, etc) are never transported over the network and stored on our servers. During installation the kiosk configuration file is encrypted by the wizard and embedded directly in the read-only ISO which is burnt on the hard drive. This way the kiosk config can't be captured or malformed by 3rd parties.
b) Porteus Kiosk looks after the kiosk users ensuring that none of their private data can survive the session. History is not kept, no passwords are saved and all caches are cleared once the browser is closed.
5) It's modular
Every additional piece of software adds size, affects system resources and may bring a security risk to the system. Porteus Kiosk allows you to choose only the necessary components needed for your project. The default set of modules provide common basic functionality required for normal internet activity and kiosk management. The modules include but are not limited to:
a) Firefox plugins: Adobe flashplayer, Java JRE, Citrix Receiver.
b) Additional font pack for displaying characters from Asian languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean Thai, Vietnamese and more.
c) Printing support for printers connected directly through the usb, lpt and serial ports, as well as network printers supported through the http, ipp, lpd and socket protocols.
d) PXE client component to boot the kiosk on multiple PCs over a network.
e) SSH and VNC servers for remote management and monitoring of the kiosk systems.
e) UEFI component which allows booting the kiosk on EFI equipped systems.
6) It's easy to configure
During first boot you will be presented with the Kiosk Wizard utility which, with single clicks, lets you set up your system according to your needs and preferences. The wizard is really straight forward and well documented. You will have the opportunity to try some options in real time (set homepage and wallpaper, change firefox UI layout, test screensaver, test power saving modes, etc) which should help to avoid mistakes and save time. When you are content with all kiosk settings you can burn your customized ISO straight onto writable media to complete the installation, save generated ISO on a removable device or upload it to online storage for burning on a CD/DVD later.
7) It's lightweight
Porteus Kiosk is very small (around 50MB for base ISO) and insanely fast to boot and work with. Due to the size and minimal resource usage, our operating system is a perfect fit for older PCs or portable devices with limited resources like netbooks, touchbooks and tablets (belonging to x86 architecture). Pentium III class CPU and 384 MB of RAM should be enough for use in common scenarios.
8) Supports automatic updates
Porteus Kiosk can be configured to work in a rolling-release development model and support automatic updates. This feature is important for companies, institutions and users who want to stay secure 365 days a year. Automatic updates target a 'setup and forget' approach which means that you have to configure the kiosk only once and it will keep updating itself without any user action. If you need such functionality, please take a look at the automatic updates page for more details and our flexible pricing offer.
9) Allows 'user made' customizations
Porteus Kiosk supports unlimited number of modifications so modules which extend its functionality can be added to the ISO. It's really easy - just drop your prepared xzm module to the /xzm folder and it will be loaded automatically during boot. Please have a look at our tutorial describing how to perform kiosk customizations manually.
10) Provides stunning support
If our documentation is not enough to resolve more complicated issues, then please have a look at the help and support page. Our project allows you to post a query on our public forum, ask us privately or request paid support from the Porteus Team experts. We are very friendly and quick to respond.
Do not delay - try Porteus Kiosk today!