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  1. #1

    Web based Linux distro


    This is my first post so please forgive me if it's in the wrong place.

    I am hoping to develop a Linux distro that is based entirely on Firefox as a frontend but with a local LAMP server running within firefox to create a GUI based on PHP, HTML5, JavaScript etc.

    I can do all the PHP, MySQL, HTML things myself, but I was wondering how I could create a fullscreen Firefox that launches at boot and can not be closed with ALT+F4 and has no context menus at all. I don't know what X Window Manager to use and how to integrate this into an installable distro that I can provide to some friends to test. I hope to base this distro on Debian.

    Also, would it be possible to use an iframe within Firefox as a web browser. For example, if a link's target is _blank or _top, instead of opening another fullscreen firefox window or replacing the HTML/JS desktop with a webpage, could this call a JavaScript function of mine instead?

    I know this is a difficult project, but any advice would be great!

    Thank you,

    - Chris

  2. #2
    I can't help you on most of the points you listed, but I have one suggestion concerning a window manager. You may not need any window manager. If you only want to run firefox, then all you should need is X. Then when X starts, have firefox automatically run inside the empty display.

    I like to run mplayer without a window manager on my TV which is (in my setup) display 0.1. I don't have to start a window manager to do it:

    $ DISPLAY=":0.1" mplayer /path/to/movie

    This would allow you to have your system as light weight as you possibly can get. You also would not have the WM border from which you could close the window. Firefox should also be able to be run in a mode which does not show the context menus (kind of like using the function keys to hide it). As for how you disable the context menu completely, I don't know.

    If you decide not to go this route, then I would suggest as light weight of a window manager as possible. twm is one of those super light weight ones. icewm is another, or a stripped down fluxbox.

    Good luck!
    Linux since: 2001
    Gentoo since: 2004
    - - - - - - - -
    I fix things until they break.

  3. #3
    Thank you for the advice, its very helpful and I really appreciate it.

    My plan is to make it as lightweight as possible and use web technologies for the majority of it. A little bit like eyeOS, but not just the frontend, but the entire operating system.

    Thanks again for your help,

    - Chris

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  5. #4
    A commendable effort. This isn't any further help, but instead a question, a comment, and another question:

    So is your ultimate goal to have a linux distro act as a simple client which consists if almost exclusively a kernel and a browser (Plus any other support programs which might be necessary, e.g. ability to connect to the internet and x to actually show the browser)?

    I wonder if you couldn't start with one of the tiny distros out there like Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux. That way a lot of the background stuff is already done for you. You could strip out a few more things, but leave firefox.

    How far along are you on the server end of this? For instance, is it possible for someone to take a full fledged OS and use it as the client to control some sort of remote desktop environment? The only reason I ask this is that once that is done, stripping down a distro to use as a client shouldn't be too bad.

    I'm intrigued. Keep up the good work. Remember that if you get things into a working state you might want to repost so people can give it a try.
    Linux since: 2001
    Gentoo since: 2004
    - - - - - - - -
    I fix things until they break.

  6. #5
    Thank you for the interest.

    I've just started work on the server-side code and I can do several simple tasks using the HTML GUI on an Ubuntu distro, simple things like deleting files etc.

    Although this is known as server-side code, it will be PHP code that will be executed on the local machine. E.g. Even without an internet connection, the user will still be able to access the HTML/JS/PHP frontend because it is located on the local machine and accessed through "localhost" in the browser.

    Everything that is needed to get the users connected to the internet etc will be based in the OS itself and the only additional pieces of software will be Apache, PHP, MySQL and Firefox. Several other pieces of software may be needed but I'm not entirely sure yet.

    Everything that can be controlled using the command line, a GUI could be created using PHP/HTML/JS. So if I had a button in the browser for rebooting the computer, this could simply call the "shutdown -r now" command using PHP. So its essentially creating a GUI for the Linux command line as well as being able to run web apps.

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