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 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 firefox is restarted all caches are cleared and browser the reopens automatically with a clean session to ensure no trace of history is left.
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 a 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 which use browsers as a 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 to 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 under 60 MB while the size of your custom kiosk ISO will depend on your choice of adding extra components such as flash, java, additional fonts and other.
Our system supports most of the touchscreens out of the box however some models may require calibration, swapping of X/Y axes or additional configuration like enabling touch gestures. Certain touchscreen models do not work with opensource drivers or have limited functionality so integration of proprietary ELO/eGalax/other drivers is necessary. Tasks mentioned above could be performed by following our kiosk modification guide or we could do this job for you through the commercial customized kiosk builds service.
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 free for private users, companies and public institutions. 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. Adobe Flash, wireless/GPU firmware - are provided with their own licenses. Every kiosk ISO downloaded from our site include a copy of the GPL license which is placed in the /docs folder. Other licenses are embedded in respective modules.
2) It's locked down by default
Porteus Kiosk is ready to be exposed publicly 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 when kiosks are signed to the automatic updates service. Our role is to make this feature a top priority and fix all reported issues as soon as possible. You do not have to be involved in this task at all - when '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) The kiosk kernel has been stripped down to support iso9660 (read only) as the only available filesystem. Even when installed on writable media, Porteus Kiosk is still 'burned' onto the target device in the same way as it would be burned 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 vital 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 viruses, 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 are copied to PC memory during system boot. This approach has several advantages:
- kiosk is perfectly stable during session and does not depend on reading from booting media which are powered down entirely. When startup is finished kiosk turns into 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 it's preconfigured state.
- Porteus Kiosk can be considered as a "read-only" operating system. Temporary data are saved to RAM and never on hd/flash/SSD drives ensuring their maximum life time. Storage media devices are active only for very short time when system boots.
4) Guarantees the privacy
Our project respects the privacy of kiosk owners and kiosk users.
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 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 kiosk config can't be captured or malformed by 3rd party persons.
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. 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, Adobe flashplayer legacy (for older PCs), Java JRE.
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.
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 possibility to try some options in a real time (set homepage and wallpaper, change firefox UI layout, test screensaver, test power saving modes, etc) which should help avoiding mistakes and save your time. When you are content with all kiosk settings you can burn your customized ISO straight onto writable media to complete the installation or upload it to online storage for burning on a CD/DVD later.
7) It's lightweight
Porteus Kiosk is very small (under 60MB 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 256MB of RAM should be more than enough for comfortable use.
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 to companies, institutions and users which want to stay secure 365 days a year. Automatic updates targets a 'setup and forget' approach which means that you simply 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 on the automatic updates page for more details and our flexible pricing offer.
9) Allows 'user made' customizations
Porteus Kiosk supports an unlimited number of modifications so other modules that extend it's functionality can be added to it as well. 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 on 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!