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I'm trying to get my application to be the only thing a user sees when the machine is powered on - like a kiosk, but a little more secure. Ideally, what I'd like to happen is this:

  • At machine power-on, the user sees the Ubuntu splash image, then my app.
  • While the app is running, the user can't get back to the desktop or a text login prompt via any keyboard shortcut. This is the (relatively) secure bit.
  • When the user exits the app, the user sees a shutdown image, then the machine powers off.

In particular, I'd like to configure things so that the user never sees the Gnome desktop on startup or shutdown. At the moment, I've configured a default user to be logged on automatically, with an autostart item which starts my app, but after the Ubuntu startup screen the user sees the Gnome desktop briefly before my app is started. When the app is exited, the user is taken back to the Gnome desktop and has to shut the machine down manually.

Also, because of time constraints, I can't really start over with a different window manager.

Is there an easy way to configure all of this?

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What is the target audience? How sophisticated are they? – david6 Nov 23 '11 at 9:45
How soon do you need this? I am currently reviewing client lockdown, for a cyber-cafe project. I have come across some ready-build 'library' Linux builds. They might suit you, but not if you want to tinker further .. – david6 Nov 23 '11 at 9:48
The target environment is a hospital or a clinic, so users will be capable but not necessarily tech-savvy, and staff won't necessarily all know each other. Some personal data is stored, so reasonable care has to be taken to ensure the underlying desktop or command prompt aren't easily available. A fair amount of tinkering with kernel modules and system config has been done already, so I can't really start fresh. – Tim Nov 23 '11 at 10:38
I understand that a server edition does not have a desktop. It is possible to remove the desktop from a desktop edition and also to remove utilities that re-install the desktop. – grahammechanical Nov 23 '11 at 13:54

Your requirements remind me of a typical setup of MythTV, which just automatically logs in, and starts an X session which then starts only one application (the front end) instead of a window manager.

It would seem that this can be adapted to your purposes. Virtual terminals would still be available via alt-ctrl-Fn combos, but a terminal is not easily available since you'd have to log in.

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