I'm doing a non profit job for my work where we are setting up Internet for the children ward at the local hospital.

We want a client server architecture, we have a server pc and about 7 other medium spec pc's

What we are after is a completely locked down Linux distro (preferably a Ubuntu based one) which we can grant access only to Firefox, a few games, some paint programs, skype and nothing else.

Can anyone advise on something suitable?

We are currently trying Edubuntu 11.10 but are having a few issues as we are new to Linux and especially new to unity.


LTS is the way to go, so yes, Ubuntu 10.04LTS, upcoming 12.04LTS. Bear in mind charity machines are usually low specced so small distros like Puppy based on LTS Ubuntu are a very good option. Also look into Centos which has seven year support and is based on excellent Red Hat.

  • Great, thanks I will give 10.04lts a try – Roger Feb 21 '12 at 19:46
  • 1
    No reason to go for 10.04 if the goal the goal is to quickly upgrade to 12.04 anyway. 11.10 will be supported until April 2013, so that's more than enough time to upgrade to 12.04. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Feb 21 '12 at 21:24

One thing I can tell you, is that if you're planning to setup such a system now, and considering using Ubuntu for it, then there's absolutely no doubt that 12.04 is what you want. It's more faster, more stable and more polished than 11.10. In addition, it'll be supported for 5 years, instead of the 1.5 years of support for 11.10.

If your users should only be allowed to use a certain set of applications, then I'd say simply remove the other ones. Advanced Linux users will be able to use other applications anyway and I know of no way to completely disable that possibility. Often, when people ask these types of questions, there are better ways than to lock down the system. It would be easier to provide a good answer if you provided more details in your question.

  • Ok thanks, We only have a couple weeks to get it up and running so i think we might give 10.04LTS a try. The computer has to be locked down so 6 to 16 year old kids cant muck with it, basicly i want to remove the ability to change any settings and only allow access to a few applications, so far removing the applications was easy but locking them out of the system settings seem harder than it should be. – Roger Feb 21 '12 at 19:45
  • Wouldn't it be better to simply make it possible to fix any problem that could possibly occur by pressing a button? You'll spend months and months trying to prevent anything from going wrong, but only hours in making anything easy to fix. If you need one now, I'd go for 11.10 and upgrade to 12.04 when it's released. – Jo-Erlend Schinstad Feb 21 '12 at 21:21

maybe one script to help you

example steps with cp or rsync command:

1 - customize the environment the way you want

2 make a full backup

ctrl+alt+f2 (exit graphic mode)

sudo service lightdm stop

sudo mkdir /var/BKP (create a folder to store the backup)

cp -Rf /home/username /var/BKP or rsync -avzp /home/username /var/BKP

3 - script clear/restore user folder and preferences

nano /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99restore (make a script)

rm -rf /home/username
cp -Rf /var/bkp/username /home or rsync -avz /var/bkp/username /home
chown -Rf username.username /home/username
exit 0

make executable

chmod a+x /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99restore

I use this script in gdm post session, I believe in Xsession.d work too, In lighdm I do not know.

  • This is great but the OP may not know how to use it, so please elaborate. – nanofarad Jul 19 '12 at 15:57

You could try Lubuntu, a specialized lightweight version of Ubuntu that is great for old hardware. As far as lockdown, you'll have to disable keyboard shortcuts etc. and uninstall unneccessary programs. You also might want to look at http://www.tek-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=1318025.

  • Your'e Welcome. – William Feb 21 '12 at 21:46

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