I would really like people to be able to use my locked computer to surf, so I would like some way to run a browser on login screen. So can I make GDM run Firefox in some way? It would be cooler if I could have a browser as a screensaver, but that seems a bit harder.

Please ignore all the security problems with this, if you let someone use your computer you have lost that race anyways. Though of course it would be nice to have a browser running as another user.

  • I'm going to hazard an answer I hate to hear: There is no way to do exactly what you ask without you heading up a project and writing code. Screensavers and login managers by design do not allow anything else to run on the screen they're running on. It's simply stupid for them not to behave that way. Granted someone could just steal your hard drive, but that's no excuse for no software security. Why have GDM and a locked screensaver at all if the security race is lost? – djeikyb Feb 11 '11 at 23:08
  • Furthermore, if you did figure out a way, it would by definition be a bug, and likely reported to the package maintainers. – djeikyb Feb 11 '11 at 23:10
  • @djeikyb You can run a browser on the login screen, as stated below. :-) I just don't want people touching my terminals, nor posting drunk messages on Jabber. – Erik Johansson Feb 23 '11 at 13:55

If it's still actual ... just add browser's launcher to


and it will start automatically on the login page. Hope this will be helpful.

| improve this answer | |
  • Precisely what I wanted, Thanks! Not sure how to get the browser to run as another user though... – Erik Johansson Feb 15 '11 at 10:32

There might be a way to do what you are thinking BUT

There are also some extensions for firefox that allow you to have the web browser open full screen and lock like a web kiosk at malls and schools and stuff

then it requires a password to close I believe

hope this helps


| improve this answer | |

Why don't you create a guest account that you switch to (as opposed to logging out or locking). Your account will stay active and locked, and they can browse the web or play solitaire..

| improve this answer | |
  • Because switching users in Ubuntu is very slow, sound stops playing, and lots of small things that make it a bother. – Erik Johansson Feb 19 '14 at 8:48
  • @ErikJohansson makes sense. Did you ever come up with the perfect solution? – djeikyb Feb 19 '14 at 20:41

This may be overkill, but you asked for a browser running at login (I'd go for @djeikyb's answer):

As @djeikyb suggested, create a surf-only user but then let him start with a user defined session (see also this answer) with e.g. this lines in the ~/.xsession file:

#! /bin/bash

gnome-desktop &

In this example Firefox will start on login. When Firefox quits we will be back at the GDM login. Firefox may start in fullscreen mode e.g. with addons @ScottC suggested to hide the desktop. Alternatively remove all unwanted desktop elements for this user.

To handle things easy you may also define a keyboard shortcut for fast user switching.

| improve this answer | |
  • Haha, this was actually my first thought. I dig it. You could also just make a firefox only .xsession, login with your surf-only user from a tty (ctl-alt-f1), and run startx -- :2. You keep your session locked, and the user gets only a browser. – djeikyb Feb 11 '11 at 2:57

I am in total agreeance with the "nothing else on the screen" design principle. This seems like an awful headache to go through, to protect your computer from careless users. If you have a problem with people posting drunken messages to your contacts, you should not be trying to cater to them. This is not, in fact, 1992. If your troublemakers can't afford some of the world's cheaper computer solutions, they don't deserve to be doing anything but trying harder to pull their weight.

..but this whole browser, solitaire, etc in the login screen/screensaver thing is just a bad idea.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, it is a very bad idea. :-) It's not about costs, some time you have the only computer around. – Erik Johansson Dec 9 '11 at 1:20

set firefox as a startup application for guest-session and run

xautolock  -notify 10 -notifier 'notify-send "Screen will lock and  switch to guest in 10 seconds"' -time 1 -locker "dm-tool switch-to-guest"
| improve this answer | |
  • Except I don't want to switch user, too slow, – Erik Johansson Feb 19 '14 at 8:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.