Wednesday Aug 26, 2009

A simple kiosk

The Via VIPRO VP7710 can be configured as a kiosk under OpenSolaris. A simplistic approach that autoboots into kiosk mode can be done by following a few simple steps. For this example, I'm using Opera to create a browser based kiosk. I'm using Opera only because that is what I know best. Similar things can be done with other browsers.

After creating the non-root user account that the kiosk should be run as (I'm using user "kiosk" for these examples), download and install Opera for Solaris on x86 from the OpenSolaris "contrib" repository.

Once the user and Opera are installed, create a startup script that will start Opera with the desired kiosk modes enabled. A script that starts opera as:

opera -kioskmode

is usually sufficient. The Opera documentation and support website have a lot of details on all of the options.

Use gdmsetup to tell Solaris to autologin "kiosk" as the default user after some number of seconds. Then use the System -> Preferences -> Sessions application to add your kiosk script to the applications to startup on login. You want to use a couple of seconds delay at startup on the autologin in order to provide a way to do maintenance on the system. Alternatively, you can use ssh to access the system.

This sets up enough to show that this mode can be done relatively simply. When deploying a real kiosk, it will be necessary to tighten up the security in other places to prevent access to the system itself.

The only thing really missing to fully support the kiosk mode is support for touch screens in the Solaris HID driver. Some touch screens behave more like a mouse and would work as is.

Sunday Apr 05, 2009

Some additional VIPRO VP7710 notes

With some additional testing and tweaking, the video problem seems to have been resolved. The issue apparently was that the BIOS set the video memory to 64MB and upping it to 128MB cured the problem.

I should have mentioned up front that the unit doesn't come with the external power adapter. You need to order that separately. It needs a 19V DC unit.

There are some options available. The unit I have is the 1GHz unit. The 1.6 GHz ULV version wasn't available when I ordered. The ULV version sounds like the best option for fanless units. There is also a Via WiFi (USB) add on that I didn't get. WiFi isn't needed in the application I want to use the Vipro in. 

The touch pad is a USB device from eGalax, Inc.  "USB TouchController"

It would be nice to be able to put more than 1GB of RAM in the system, but for a dedicated application system, it doesn't really cause a problem. The methods used by others to reduce the kernel memory footprint can help if more user process RAM is needed.

I should also note that the unit supports both  IDE and SATA hard drives plus has a CF interface. It looks like the CF is via USB, but I haven't verified that. I'll be testing that next week.

So far, it appears to be a nice little unit. I'll post some updates when I've had more time to use the system.


Friday Apr 03, 2009

VP7710 vs OpenSolaris

Installing OpenSolaris is a straightforward process.  For my test purposes, I installed from an OpenSolaris 2008.11 LiveCD. 

The first problem hit is that the OpenSolaris display driver doesn't support the built-in LCD display. I worked around that by attaching an external monitor to the VGA port on the bottom edge of the unit. This let me get to the next problem.

The second problem was with the internal disk drive. The OpenSolaris installer appeared to be confused with the pre-formatted NTFS drive. Not sure why. Since I wasn't going to use the drive in that configuration, I repartitioned the drive to have a Solaris partition and then  continued and installed with a ZFS root.

The third problem I hit was the lack of an Ethernet device driver for the built-in Ethernet controller. If you run the Device Driver Utility, it conveniently tells you where to go to get a third-party driver that supports the controller. This can be obtained while waiting for OpenSolaris to finish installing. Once the "vel" driver is installed, you have a functioning system on the network.

The next problem I had to resolve was the lack of display on the internal LCD panel. After a bit of research on the "openchrome" X11 driver, I found that it was necessary to set the "VBEModes" to "true" in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and to add a

Modes    "800x600" 

to each Subsection "Display" entries in the xorg.conf file. This brings up a display that fits on the screen. Without the entry, the X server comes up in 1024x768 mode without panning.  The display does still have some issues that I haven't resolved yet. It frequently comes up with lines on the display that shouldn't be there. See the following image: Image showing an issue with the openchrome driver

The last problem, so far, is that there currently isn't any support for the eGalax touch panel in OpenSolaris. This makes it less useful for a kiosk application, but enough is working at present to allow developing applications. 

More later,






Discusses the use of OpenSolaris in small systems. Includes the use of OpenSolaris in appliances for small business and consumer products. Reviews of system boards, small systems and interesting applications will also be covered.


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