I would like to make a debian system where you can only open one GUI program at boot, no other graphical interface, no minimize, or any X apart from that program, is there a way to do it on debian if possible, or any other custom distro? I just want to boot open the program and allow the user to only see and use that program.

  • 2
    Running a single application is called a kiosk; use this word in your searches, including here. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 28 '12 at 22:08
  • I recently was struggling with similar problem and I posted a solution - not debian based, but would work exactly the same way with debian. unix.stackexchange.com/questions/344374/… Beauty is - only 2 key combinations work (to reboot or to shutdown), system is fast and only has access to browser, normal text input and mouse. No other apps. – r0berts Feb 14 '17 at 15:07

I've done that with Ubuntu (Debian based), though I think the technique applies for other distros too. I'll just summarize the steps here together with some explanation, see "Run Linux with a bare window manager" for the scripts.

  1. Add a custom session by creating a file at /usr/share/xsessions/metacity-session.desktop. This file tells the login manager about your session.
  2. Create the file to be executed by the session added in (1) /usr/local/bin/metacity-session
  3. Create the user-specific config file ~/.metacity-session. This file will be executed by the file added in (2). The content should be the program you want to run, followed by an ampersand, for example

    firefox &

  4. Optionally make the user auto-login and make the custom session the default session for the user.

Here I use Metacity as the window manager for its simplicity, you can use Compiz if you want to.

There are tools to lock down the system. A search yields tools such as sabayon and pessulus. I haven't used any of them to give a recommendation.

There are also distros specialized on kiosk mode, the most promising seems to be Fedora Kiosk Mode, though it's not Debian based.

  • Webconverger looks interesting in the specialized distro department, and is Debian-based. – sr_ Nov 8 '12 at 11:56
  • 1
    The Run Linux with a bare window manager link now uses a different definition of bare than you intended! – Peter M Apr 8 '14 at 13:05
  • @PeterM :D lawl – 111--- Aug 21 '15 at 14:24
  • @PeterM my old blog, it died </3 replaced with in archive.org link until I bring it back – phunehehe Aug 24 '15 at 9:57

I know this is a little old but I've written a simple how to on this that works on PCs and the Raspberry PI:

    Creating a Debian Chromium Kiosk (PC or Raspberry PI)

  - download and install debian
    - PC x64 or i386 : download "standard" iso from debian.org
    - raspberry pi 2/3 : download "raspbian lite" from raspberryip.org
      - use Win32DiskImager to write img to SD card

  - after install use apt to install packages
apt install --no-install-recommends xorg openbox lightdm chromium pulseaudio
    - on raspberry pi chromium package is chromium-browser
    - installing packages is slow on raspberry, get a FAST SD card (class 10 or better)

  - configure lightdm for autologin
    - edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf goto [SeatDefaults] section, uncomment "autologin-user"
    - {USER} is defined during debian installer for PC
    - {USER} is 'pi' for raspberry pi

  - configure openbox to start chromium automatically
    - edit /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart or create ~/.config/openbox/autostart and add these lines:
xset -dpms
xset s off
chromium --kiosk http://google.com
    - change google.com to whatever you need
    - the xset commands disable screen savers
    - on raspberry pi chromium is chromium-browser

  - to auto connect to Wifi
    - edit /etc/network/interfaces and write:
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
  wpa-ssid {ssid}
  wpa-psk  {password}
    - replace {ssid} and {password} with your respective WiFi SSID and password
  • You can also modify xserver-command on /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf if you want hide mouse cursor. xserver-command=X -bs -core -nocursor – EFernandes Oct 11 '18 at 15:34

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