2-Oct-2006 (Mon)
Wherein both photographic, acrobatic, and kioskic topics are noted.

Photos are up of Bohemian Carnival (our new monthly circus party), Terrorfakt + Tonikom, and Triple Cobra at Pop Roxx. I only got pictures of the first half of the night at Bohemian Carnival, so if you have more, please send them...

A late addition to the calendar that you shouldn't miss is Flux Capacitor this Thursday: it's a fundraiser for Capactitor, an awesome acrobatic dance troupe who last performed here back in 2002.

I've been working on our kiosks lately; I think they should be a lot less crashy now. I had been running them as independent workstations that just happened to be diskless and boot remotely, but they tended to crash a lot, for no reason I had any luck determining, and any time I update any of the software, they get slower and slower, since here in the Twenty-First Century it appears to be considered right and sensible that a web browser should cause a machine with half a gig of ram to swap. So, screw it, I switched them over to the "thin client" approach of LTSP, where the kiosks are just X terminals, and all the apps run remotely on the central server. (Hello, 1993!) It seems to be working much better so far.

They're still running Red Hat 9, though, because my experiences trying to get anything to function sensibly on either Fedora 5 or on Ubuntu were... I think mind-blowingly intolerable is the phrase I'm searching for. (Please don't hax0r me, I'll just have to restore from backups and that'll make me sad.)

17 Responses:

  1. Both three topics?

    • wfaulk says:

      both (conjunction): used as a function word to indicate and stress the inclusion of each of two or more things specified by coordinated words, phrases, or clauses <prized both for its beauty and for its utility> <he...who loveth well both man and bird and beast -- S. T. Coleridge>

  2. gryazi says:

    Any particular vitriol you want to direct at Ubuntu, other than its overall Debian-ness?

    I wouldn't expect it to be the most convenient starting point unless you went with Edubuntu (which still makes assumptions about being preloaded for a classroom) or the 'server' version that's close to a plain install of Debian anyway, but it'd be good to know if there's anything I don't know.

    • Any particular vitriol you want to direct at Ubuntu, other than its overall Debian-ness?

      How about starting with the fact that it's Linux? It's all downhill from there.

      But I'm not picking on Linux, really. All operating systems suck.

    • jwz says:

      I tried Ubuntu because I kept seeing otherwise-non-insane people praise it, and because apparently it's got LTSP integrated in some smurfier way. The installer was cute, but then after I typed in my static IP and stuff, it gave me no default route (Hello, Linux 1993!!!) no matter what I did in the GUI. I added it by hand, but couldn't figure out (and no longer care to know, thanks) how to make it permanent. Also it had IPv6 turned on by default, which seemed to result in name resolution not working ("host" fails, "host -4" works.) So I wasted a few hours on that installation and reformatted the fucker.

      FC5 was at least tolerable for its familiarity, but it turns out that they removed the feature from gdm where you can do TimedLogin=shellscript| where the script returns the name of the user to log in; without this, I can't have the kiosks all auto-log-in as different users, so nothing works. (They have to be different users or Firefox and all Gnome apps lose their shit with locks.)

      I tried doing a trick where they'd all log in as user "kiosk" and that user had uid=0 and its shell was a script that would immediately do "su - kiosk01 -c .xsession" but that also caused gdm to lose its shit for some reason I couldn't figure out, something to do with xauth.

      I also tried downgrading FC5 to the RH9 version of gdm, but that didn't work in twelve different ways.

      Really I'd like to bypass gdm entirely, and just have the kiosks just launch an X server and then do "ssh kiosk01@server xsession", but the minimalism of the LTSP client environment makes that really, insanely hard to debug.

  3. aris1234 says:

    I too was looking to do a kiosk type thing with minimal hardware and OS trouble. I found several nice LiveCD's which do just that - boot off the CD and plonk you right into Firefox. If anything goes wrong, you just reboot the box. No hard disk, and no place for people to fsck things up.

    http://www.kioskcd.com/ was quite nice.

    • jwz says:

      But "running everything on the local slow-ass CPU and having no swap" is exactly the problem I was trying to avoid.

      • aris1234 says:

        Kioskcd is based on a very stripped down kernel - there is no overhead from crappy drivers, or other useless stuff. It will run in 64mb (and less apparently, but slowly) - so 512mb will probably be OK. Of course, your slow-ass CPU and video card may cause performance problems - but as it is a live-cd it is fairly painless to test out. Just burn a cd, and boot.

        • simmonmt says:

          It didn't sound like his problem was with the kernel footprint. There's not a whole lot that a live CD can do to save firefox from itself.

    • woo thanks for the link!

      I'm a huge Debian-family bigot but am curious to try other things for kicks.

  4. fantasygoat says:

    I suggest recompiling the kernel.

  5. heresiarch says:

    hey, it was nice to chat with you on saturday. and that's a surprisingly nice out-of-focus shot you got of me :D.

  6. fantasygoat says:

    Say, I was wondering if I could make a screenprinted poster for a DNA event sometime. I'd do it for free.

    You can see a couple of my posters here:

    http://www.gigposters.com/designers.php?designer=68905