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Title might not be clear enough, but this video shows Screen Pinning in Android Lollipop

I need a feature in Ubuntu whereby if I start an application and pin it then the user won't be able to do anything other than using that particular application, unless they press a predefined combination of keys (and enter password in a popup dialog if possible)


Useful scenarios

  • Kids play games or paint or write their names in LibreOffice Writer but while doing so they mess up icons in launcher or accidentally shut down the computer when something important was running in the background.
  • If I let someone use my laptop for a little bit of Facebook I don't want them to check my personal local photos; I'd just pin Chrome for them.

Android has had this feature for 3 years now, and Chrome has something similar called Kiosk mode but it's just for the browser.

Android's implementation makes me believe that it's achievable. I'm flexible on the implementation and functioning and open to alternative approaches to achieve this. I'd prefer not to use terminal every time but I'm okay with using it (terminal) for a one time setup. And again I'm flexible if it works


  • Ubuntu 17.04
  • GNOME Shell 3.24
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    Ooops, sorry about that edit, I didn't notice you did actually mention the android implementation at the bottom - you might want to consider moving that to the first section. – Android Dev May 4 '17 at 14:37
  • @AndroidDev I also think it's not doing any good in the middle, let me move it – Sumeet Deshmukh May 4 '17 at 14:40
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    I think what you want is called "kiosk mode", at least if the pinned application is a browser. There are quite many solutions for e.g. chromium or Firefox in kiosk mode, but I don't know if you can do the same with any application. – Byte Commander May 4 '17 at 15:01
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    I would lock the screen and let other people log in as another user or even better, as the guest user. That way your whole user will be 'pinned'. – sudodus May 4 '17 at 15:02
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    Congrats on breaking 2k today Sumeet Deshmukh! You can now edit posts freely without having to wait for peer reviews :) – Android Dev May 4 '17 at 19:09
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Guest session

I would let other people select another user ID or even better, the guest user, and start a guest session. That way your whole user will be 'pinned'.

It looks like this in Ubuntu 16.04.x LTS (except that the colours were changed by the screenshot program, and the language might differ),

enter image description here

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    This is a helpful suggestion, but I don't think it properly answers the posted question, which is about restricting the user to one fullscreen application. – Byte Commander May 4 '17 at 18:44
  • @ByteCommander, I see your point. But it is better with a workaround than no solution at all ;-) I agree, kiosk mode is a proper solution, if there is one for the application programs, that the original poster intends to use. I don't know how Porteus can be tweaked for this purpose. Maybe it is possible, but much more complicated than to use the guest session. And it is not Ubuntu. – sudodus May 4 '17 at 19:01
  • Let's say I go with your answer right now! But is it possible to implement this kinda feature in Ubuntu!? By patch or complete system update in the future? Can we request features to Ubuntu project? – Sumeet Deshmukh May 5 '17 at 2:10
  • A standard way to communicate with the Ubuntu developers is via Launchpad, launchpad.net . You can create a bug report with your request for the 'screen pin', but it is possible (probable?) that it will be 'moved to the wishlist' and ignored. Another way is to create opinion for the 'screen pin' at the Ubuntu Development Forum, ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=427 or some of the other Ubuntu Forums. – sudodus May 5 '17 at 5:37
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    porteus-kiosk.org – sudodus May 5 '17 at 8:50

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