Public computer-Automatic cleanup

Hello- I'm looking for a solution for a publicly accessible computer in a library.

The computer is on 24/7. We'd like to be able to have a program run that would return the computers shared user account to a fresh state each morning, so all browser history, file downloads, created documents etc would be removed.

Any suggestions as to an approach to take. Bleachbit and a cron job? Really could use some guidance.

Computer is HP mini. Running Win10, could switch to Linux.

We are finding lot's of downloaded music, video's, photos as well as the occasional word processor and spreadsheet doc's being left behind.



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I have had great success with Porteus.
Very easy to configure, and bullet proof!

I think Porteus Kiosk is probably the best option, not least because Porteus is one of many distributions that does not have systemd - which a LUG member told me is like having a barcode that anyone can read!

Thanks- We are running Porteus-Kiosk to serve up a custom designed website that acts as a touch screen Kiosk for serving up information to visitors. Works well

We have also just set up another computer with Porteus-Kiosk to allow browsing the internet. It refreshes after 10 min of idle time, cleaning all traces of use.

What we are trying to do now is to provide a computer with LibreOffice and other applications acccessible, as well as a private web browser. I've been looking at the various ways to clean browser history, etc, and have a couple of solutions for that.

It seems like doing a cleanup of the home sub directories could be handled by a cron job.

Another possibility (I think) would be to create a live boot disk or thumb drive that reboots either at the end of the day, but not sure if this is possible.

I have seen suggestions to set up the OS as a virtual machine, and use a snapshot to restore the system to the original state, but don't know how you do this and prevent a user from overwriting the settings.

It's turning out to be a more challenging problem than I thought. Perhaps a simple solutions such as having staff check out a live iso usb stick that has a customized distro (to set up a defined task bar and auto log in) might also be an option.

Porteus Kiosk does have different flavours - Cloud, Thin Client etc. One of these might work for your use case?

What other applications do you need? Are there online versions / substitutes that would work from inside the browser? They do offer customisations. Do you have a budget for this?

We have our kiosk setup to run browser in incognito mode, and then once a session is closed everything is cleared out (history, downloads etc).
We don't timeout to reset here, as we timeout to a screensaver / slideshow. Unfortunately you can't do both!

You could investigate Porteus desktop - and configure that as you please. This is different to the kiosk but would give you an opportunity to install apps etc. You could setup cron to reset on idle etc. You would install to HDD and set boot menu to a Read Only default.

We have bootable USBs with OS images (Porteus Desktop) that provide preconfigured read only desktops with just what we need people to use. They are part of our DR planning so that if we lose the building (earthquake), you can plugin said USB (kept on a physical keychain) into a generic PC/Laptop and be up and running in a few minutes. Nice thing about this solution is it boots to RAM so you can remove the USB and boot another machine and so on.

Set up the computer exactly the way you want it, then make a .img file of the entire drive.

Each day before opening, clone that .img file back over the drive... you're back to the exact setup you want.

No need for antivirus... if you get a virus, you just clone the .img file back over the drive.

If one of your users has committed an offense and you need evidence of same, create a .img file of the drive after they've used it. The file is mountable as though it was a drive, but of course it's read-only.

You could even, if your org is adamant about creating a record of user actions, create a .img file (or an incremental snapshot) after each user uses the machine, then compress and archive them for a period of time... but that'd require storage space external to the machine used.

If you need to update the machine or you have new software that you've installed, you'd have to create a new .img file, but otherwise it's a good way of ensuring the machine always has the settings you want after letting someone (kids, for instance) play with it.

Or boot Zorin OS from a USB stick.

As to the browser cache, history, etc... some browsers allow you to change the settings so that's all kept in volatile memory... as soon as the browser closes, it's all lost. Or you could set up a RAM drive, save the browser cache, history, etc. to that RAM drive, then when the browser closes, run code to clear the RAM drive.

Thanks for the lead on Porteus desktop. I had no idea it existed. I'm looking at it now, reading the doc's, did a quick test burn. If I can get through the config and add some office software, may just work!

No problem.

Just be aware that it is notably different to a traditional install. Follow the instructions carefully, and if it does not work as expected first time, don't give up!

There is a forum for Porteus Kiosk and Porteus Desktop ( , they are not very fast moving but you should find plenty of advice within. Also the FAQ and helpsheets are quiet detailed.

One thing you will notice with both Portues Desktop and Kiosk is that whilst a little slow to boot (it loads into RAM), once booted it is very fast even on older hardware.

Whilst I am suggesting an alternative distro for this use case - I hope I am not steering you away from Zorin for regular desktop use. I am a great believer in using the right tool for the job!

Potentially when Zorin Grid is launched you may find that it will have appropriate tools to help you deploy, lock down and monitor kiosk like installs - time will tell.


Yes, it's definitely an unusual distro. I tried to run it in Gnome Boxes, no network connectivity, and the USB stick won't boot my thinkpad, but works fine on the library computer, so I'll have to get over there to continue working with it. Might give Vbox a try.

Still plan on running Zorin on the Laptop, have no fear. As for Zorin Grid, will depend on pricing. This is a library in Mexico with very limited funds.

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