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I am managing a system of kiosks. Each kiosk currently is running a web browser with the application for the kiosk running in the browser. Each kiosk needs to be able to display separate content. At times, the application running in the web browser freezes. Thus, I have to go out to the site to refresh the page.

I want to see if there is a way to have one central server that has multiple browser heads. Then each kiosk would run a program like VNC to display one of the heads. This way when the program freezes, I just have to login to the central server and refresh the page.

Getting VNC or another remote desktop software installed on the clients is no problem. What I am looking for is a way to have VNC remote into a specific head of a head of a web browser. Does such a thing exist? Or do I have to run a VM for each kiosk to remote into? Any advice, pointers, or solutions would be helpful.

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"multiple browser heads" what on earth does that mean? and so what is in your terminology, what is a "head of a head of a web browser"? –  barlop Jun 7 '12 at 22:34
    
I think linux might allow VNC to multiple screens of a machine. Also, is it really a good idea to have the central computer display all the screens and then the others showing the central one? if the central one fails then they're all down. It seems better to, if there's an issue, have the central one show/vnc in to, the others –  barlop Jun 7 '12 at 22:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You don't need to run VM's for this though there are advantages to doing so, mainly security.

However, VNC servers are associated with an X-Windows display. Normally, a client workstation will only have a single X display and you start the VNC server with:

vncserver :0

To associate VNC with the desktop X session.

If, however, you run multiple X sessions, you can change the 0 to another number. You can then start multiple VNC servers. Remember though that X displays take a fair bit of resource so test carefully.

This is possible because UNIX systems are inherently multi-user. It was common before the advent of cheap PC's, to run many X sessions on "terminals" from a central UNIX server. VNC is a slightly more efficient method of exporting the X session over the wire.

Here are some links to effectively run multiple X displays and associated desktops:

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