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 50 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.
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. Full GPL compliance means that modifications on the source code level can be performed without any limitations or restrictions.
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 the 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 - we do this job and let you focus on evolving your own business.
3) It's secured by design
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.
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: see photo.
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.
By default all data are copied to RAM during system boot. This apprach has several advantages:
- Kiosk is perfectly stable during the session and does not depend on reading from the booting media which can be powered down entirely or even ejected/unplugged from the PC.
- Accidental power loss does not do any harm to our system, once power supply is back the 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 the hd/flash/SSD drives ensuring their maximum life time. In fact devices are active only for the very short period when the system boots.
4) Guarantees the privacy
Our project respects the privacy of the clients and the users. The kiosk configuration tool is embedded directly in the ISO and performs all 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. Kiosk configuration file which holds all the system settings cannot be captured or malformed by 3rd party persons. The risk of leaking any of your data is fully eliminated.
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:
- Firefox plugins: flashplayer, flashplayer legacy (for older PCs), java.
- Additional font pack for displaying characters from Asian languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean Thai, Vietnamese and more.
- Printing support for printers connected directly through the usb, lpt and serial ports, and network printers supported through the http, ipp, lpd and socket protocols.
- PXE client component to boot the Kiosk on multiple PCs over a network.
- SSH and VNC daemons 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 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 or upload it to online storage for burning on a CD/DVD later.
7) It's lightweight
Porteus Kiosk is very small (under 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 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 end users, companies and institutions 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 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 user customizations 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.
Don't delay - try Porteus Kiosk today!