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Kiosk Machines for Internet Browsing

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Michael Gilmour

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Posted: 13 Jun 2002
 

Current Version: ZENworks for Desktops 3.2

Recently we published the following Q&A. Michael graciously sent along some more info.

Question:

I'd like to know how to secure publicly-used workstations. I have a public library interested in putting some desktops around the library for all to use and access the Internet. They have currently chosen to go with DOS on the workstations and use a Citrix server to serve up Internet Explorer. They have quickly found that running IE from a Citrix server REALLY bogs down (can only have two users) because of the many plugins that are installed on the Citrix server's browser. They are interested in just providing kiosk-like machines for internet browsing. I'm hoping to have Windows 2000 boot right into IE kiosk mode.

Answer:

Use an auto login; add a pre-login banner and message; use IE in kiosk mode as the shell.


This is fine but I'd like to point out that there is an excellent Freeware product out there called "Public Web Browser." It is extremely configurable and more manageable than just using IE in kiosk mode.

We use it all across the university for Kiosk PCs, especially in the Libraries for accessing the on-line catalogue.

I would be surprised if anyone needed a kiosk environment and didn't find this useful.

The software can be found at http://www.teamsoftware.bizland.com/

I'd just like to point out that I don't work for the company but have been extremely impressed with PWB. It's made my life, kiosk-wise, much much much easier.

Hope this might help the original poster.

Other Ideas

Mark D. Nicholls

I was reading the Cool Solutions on security for workstations in a public area e.g. a library.

Here at Kingston University, Surrey, UK we will be deploying Windows XP workstations for browsing our library catalog. We chose to autologin to a IE Shell pointing direct to the catalog homepage. This removed IE tool bars to restrict users browsing the rest of the web.

We found this is not good enough though, as there are still keyboard short-cuts that alllow the user to open new IE windows and browse network etc.

We found the best way round this was to install Tweak UI, a free tool from Microsoft for tweaking their GUI's on all Windows versions. Part of this tool is the group policy editor which is very powerful. From here you are able to tweak many settings including disabling buttons on ctrl+alt+del e.g. "lock workstation" & Disabling "Windows key + E" e.g. open windows explorer.

Update: Here is the Windows XP version of Tweak UI.

I know a number of these settings can be deployed via polices on ZENworks, but there are a few that can't and Tweak UI seems to be the only way round it.

A word of warning is that you can lock a machine down so much that you can destroy the workstation & it will require a re-image, install etc.

If you need more info on locking down workstations please feel free to contact me at mark@kingston.ac.uk

John Carter

Just a comment on the kiosk machines for internet browsing topic. We also use the Public Web Browser program on 53 kiosk stations located around the campus. We have used two other commercial products in the past and this program is by far the easiest to deploy using ZENworks.

We also had the need to allow any of the 300 lab stations to be turned into kiosks to allow students to activate their accounts using a locked-down web browser along with the student orientation programs every semester where hundred of students come in and they show them how to register via the web. Again, we use the lab stations and allow them to use a generic username to login and run the public browser program and go to our student information system to register for classes.

We looked at upgrading our license of Netshift (commercial kiosk package) but at $63 per copy, it would be quite expensive.


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