Configuring FreeBSD for use as an interactive kiosk

David Kelly dkelly at
Thu Jun 8 22:03:06 UTC 2006

On Thu, Jun 08, 2006 at 05:29:16PM +0200, guru at wrote:
> > 
> > I'm involved with a museum which has a standalone interactive kiosk. The 
> > system runs an Apache2 server with PHP and MySQL on Windows XP. The 
> > problem is that Windows XP keeps becoming corrupted as a result of the 
> > machine being switched on and off at random (by staff, kids etc.).
> > 
> > Currently, the museum management is very open to switching to FreeBSD or 
> > similar - provided I can *completely* bulletproof the box against 
> > arbitrary power-cycling (I can't always be there to manually run fsck 
> > etc.).
> I tested a self-mastered Knopix-CD, ie enhanced the Knopix-CD with
> our look&feel and application clients, and so you had a read-only
> and for ever booting system.
> Don't know (and I'm to lazy to Google) if there is a FreeBSD live-CD
> project, sure it has to be...

Shouldn't be all that hard. Try simply changing your filesystems from
"rw" to "ro" in /etc/fstab. I expect some logging functions may
bellyache, but everything will still run.

There is a Live CD in the standard CD set for each FreeBSD release that
you could look at for reference.

I've built "controllers" with FreeBSD on Soekris small boards with CF
cards for "disk drive" and filesystems mounted ro. Used Apache, perl,
mysql, php, and heck I don't remember what else. Our primary concern was
write wear on the CF media. Think it was FreeBSD 4.6 or 4.7 that we
used. Stripped it down to 10 MB. Compiled everything linked against
shared libraries and put / and /usr in the same (my only) fs. We did
add another fs for rw use. When needed it was mounted from script,
written or read, then umounted on completion so that it was rarely
vulnerable, but more importantly when umounted it wasn't being written
to. We also used the noatime option.

David Kelly N4HHE, dkelly at
Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.

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