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I was reading about Linux and found out that you can apparently custom build your own operating system.

The thing is, it all sounds great for what I would like to do but my knowledge in that area is zero, or sub-zero.

My question is: is there an operating system out there, that will start up the computer, then have a browser installed on it - lets say Firefox - with a homepage (no start button or taskbar)

Maybe no toolbars or anything else except the webpage itself.

Also the hardware should be plug and play, such as printers, mobiles scanners or any usb driven devices.

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All you guys have some what the right answer but different options... its amazing what you can do these days. I was hoping to distribute a CD to users to allow them to install the operating system, kiosk like behaviour, to display my website as the only option, there they would have the option to login to my website not the OS, All in all you all have the right answers thank you so much, and sorry if i didnt pick you as the right answer... – Val Feb 4 '10 at 13:08
up vote 12 down vote accepted

You want Google's Chrome OS once it comes out.

But you can do that with most Linux distributions... it's called Kiosk mode. You'll have to be careful about hardware.

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@Andrew, which Linux distro has the easiest kiosk install for those with little Linux experience? – hyperslug Feb 2 '10 at 11:15
thanks... if i was too look to hire people to create one , what am i looking at? OS developers? or linux developer or something similar – Val Feb 2 '10 at 11:15
@hyperslug Reading ur question is just what I wanted to ask in the first place :) so thanks – Val Feb 2 '10 at 11:17
@Val: Writing an Operating System from Scratch is you have more then $ 15M and 3+ Years time? But if you're looking for someone to set a Kiosk mode up, just pick a Linux board, they'll help you. – Bobby Feb 2 '10 at 11:19
Try a google for 'linux kiosk livecd'; there's too many options to list, and it depends on your hardware. LiveCD distributions can usually also boot from a USB stick, so you don't need a CD drive in the kiosk. – Andrew McGregor Feb 2 '10 at 11:23

Since you say you are looking for an "operating system" and not implying that you must have Linux, have you considered sticking to windows? You mention that your skillset with Linux may not be up to scratch so it may be worthwhile using windows

Browser on startup

You will most likely need to create a batch file, and put the command in it that I've used below, you should be able to schedule this to run on system startup (I'm not familiar with this)

Full screen browser without toolbars

On windows, click the start menu, then go Run, and put in

iexplore -k

This will open up internet explorer, full screen, and go to Google (obviously replace this with your own site)

Of course, this doesn't stop the user from pressing Alt + F4 to get out of the browser

I'm a Linux fan by heart, but I think for this scenario Windows may be your best option, since you could have this running in less time and will have less pain when it comes to device drivers(just install from CD and off you go)

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Why the downvotes on this? It's a viable option, and the OP didn't specify Linux only solution. – Joe Internet Feb 2 '10 at 15:33
Thanks Joe, I believe I provided a valid answer, and downvotes are pointless without any criticsm to back them :( – user155695 Feb 2 '10 at 16:16
!F4::Return in autohotkey would stop that particular shortcut. – Phoshi Feb 2 '10 at 21:04
this is a great option, but i can't re-destribute windows to my users it's violation of copyright i would of thought... Although it is a great answer,i was looking to optimise the operating system as a kiosk like behaviour then give a user the CD to install OS as a kiosk... once OS (optimised) is installed and loaded they would be done... – Val Feb 4 '10 at 13:17

There have been a number of projects and "howto"s that I've seen over the years that have this aim. is the first Google hit for "linux kiosk" that looks up-to-date at first glance (Firefox 3.6 gets a mention in the Wiki) so that might be a good place to start.

Rolling your own Linux distro would be an interesting learning experience, and creating a browser based kiosk setup is a good example to try (as it'll be less complicated than creating a full desktop setup), though this is certainly not something I would recommend you do for a real use until you done it "to play" a couple of times - there is a lot to take in first time if your technical Linux experience is currently low so getting it right could take quite some time+effort.

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You can use pretty much any Linux distro for it. Don't run any window manager. Just bare X and firefox from the .xinitrc

Something like

firefox -fullscreen
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IN conjunction with James.Elsey, you would need to add the

iexplore -k 

to the startup items in windows, in addition to setting automatic login.

I think you will have a cleaner solution with a linux distro. I do not recommend rolling your own with out some time spent with linux

You may have varied success with different distro's depending on your hardware (and what support the OS provides for said hardware)

You might try this guy:

or I like SLAX alot, simply add a browser to your login script.

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