RFC: "usb kiosks"?

Gavin McCullagh gmccullagh at gmail.com
Sat Jun 30 12:49:42 UTC 2007


just wondering if someone might comment on whether this might be useful and
acceptable as a plugin to ltsp.

Some schools seem to be short of staff to do admin work so giving accounts
to hundreds of students and resetting all their passwords may be a problem.

As a solution to this, I was thinking of trying to write a "USB kiosk"
plugin for ltsp.  LDM runs initially on the client and instead of
username/password it says "insert your USB key".  When a user does this,
they get logged in automatically, and gnome starts, installed in the
chroot, running on the thin client.  Their username and name are stored in
a small file (eg .kiosk) on the usb key (if this is not present ldm prompts
them for the info and creates it).  

The user's home directory is the USB key so if they go to another computer
and pop in their key, they get the same Desktop, settings and files.  A
suite of programs are installed onto the chroot and they can use them all
in isolation on the client -- no access whatsoever to the server.  So, all
local apps.  I reckon a client could survive with a 400Mhz cpu and maybe
192MB RAM with nbd swap -- though obviously more would be better.

I could see this being useful for a bunch of reasons.  The users store and
look after their own data and can bring it home trivially.  No passwords.
No backups.  Minimal server load.  Little or no security exposure.  As
applications run locally you have simpler sound, local device access, etc.
for running Skype and things like that.  An internet cafe might find this
useful too. 

If I understand correctly, most iPods could easily serve as the usb device.

Any comments?


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