Building a simple lightweight web kiosk system with Arch GNU/Linux

Update 29/03/2014 : This tutorial is currently outdated and may not work as intended. I made it before Arch switched to the systemd init system.

Optimized for maximum boot speed and read-only filesystem operation (especially for usb drives and other flash memory cards).

DISCLAIMER : As always, use this tutorial at your own risk!

Hardware used for this howto :
Mini-ITX motherboard with Pentium-M 1.5GHz (centrino)
512M DDR ram
Integrated graphics, sound and ethernet.
8G Compact Flash card with IDE-CF adapter.

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Arch Linux on the HP Pavilion DM1-3xxx notebook (AMD E-350 “Zacate” based series)


Computer specs

Specs will vary, my model is the 3130.

Goal of this tutorial

To quickly setup a functional, lightweight Arch Linux system, optimized for our portable computer.
This guide may evolve during time as I try to improve my Linux experience 🙂

Installing a FreeBSD 9.0 (i386) minimal desktop system

FreeBSD 9.0 RELEASE (i386)

Minimal desktop for web browsing, email, video, music playing…

Useful references :
Tested in a VirtualBox 4.1.8 virtual machine with
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 8.0Gb Hard disk

SONY VAIO PCG-Z600TEK (aka PCG-5316) – Debian GNU/Linux install notes

A friend gave me this old laptop from the early 2000’s.
Here are my personal notes about installing an optimized and lightweight Debian GNU/Linux system on this machine, mainly for internet browsing / music playing (with external speakers!)

Official support pages

Computer specs

PIII 700MHz
128 Mb SDRAM on the motherboard, 1 SODIMM slot available for RAM upgrade (Specs says this computer can be upgraded upto 256 Mb at max!)
8 Mb Video RAM (ATI Rage Mobility M1)
20 Gb HDD (a Win2000 system was installed)
No CD / No floppy drive
No booting from USB! / No PXE boot!
No Wifi
Dead battery!

Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) on iMac G3 (PowerPC)

Guide updated 07/17/2012 : some mistakes corrected!

Netinstall and a lightweight desktop

I recently got an old iMac G3 and felt the need to replace the crappy existing MacOS 9 system with my favorite system : Linux of course!

After a mandatory RAM upgrade (from stock 64M to 512M), I found that the CD drive is extremely picky/worn-out and wouldn’t boot any burned install CDs…

But that’s not enough to stop me, since those iMac models support booting from the network.

I first tried to netboot Debian Squeeze on it, but there were some issues (yaboot started but couldn’t load the kernel).

After some research, it appears that Ubuntu has an updated netinstall iso which just works!

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Kwort Linux 3.2 – Quick install and review

Kwort Linux 3.2 rc1

http://kwort.org

  • CRUX-derived, advanced user-oriented, 32 bits distro
  • Recent kernel and packages (LibreOffice, Firefox, Chromium…)
  • Installs X.Org, Openbox, Chromium (flash plugin from adobe included) and some lightweight desktop apps by default
  • No need to compile your own kernel
  • Improved package system ( http://kwort.org/?n=Main.PackageSystem )

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Installing an OpenBSD 4.9 (i386) desktop system

Note : this tutorial is now obsolete. Please refer to the official OpenBSD installation documentation.

 

How to obtain a lightweight OpenBSD desktop using the XFCE 4.8 environment

(this tutorial was made using a VirtualBox 4.0 virtual machine)

Download the install CD image : http://ftp.fr.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/4.9/i386/install49.iso (french mirror)

Choose your mirror here : http://www.openbsd.org/ftp.html

Installing OpenBSD

The install procedure is straightforward. Boot the CD and follow the Official faq : http://www.openbsd.org/faq/index.html
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A fast and lightweight Linux desktop with CRUX Linux 2.7 (i686)

http://crux.nu

Main advantages for CRUX :
– fast (simple yet efficient boot scripts) and “keep it simple” principle (targeted at experienced users)
– contains only essential software (reduced disk space usage)
– good package manager with support for dependencies (prt-get) and BSD-like ports system (few but quality packages)

Some cons :
– kernel must be compiled during installation process
– being a source-based distro, compilations will take a long time on slower machines
– no support for native languages (but this is done on purpose)

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How to create a very small Linux system using Buildroot

Have you ever tried to install a modern Linux distro onto a small capacity (usually 32 megs or even less) usb drive or compact flash card?

Even with a minimal install, such a distribution will not fit! Major Linux distros like Debian/Slackware/Arch/etc need a bare minimum of 300-400 megs of disk space.

The only minimal system I have been able to install so far on a 128Meg disk is NetBSD ( http://www.netbsd.org ).

But there is a way to achieve such a thing : we will be using Buildroot in order to generate a very small (embedded) Linux system (targeted at a standard intel x86  computer)

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