Tech Tip: Start a Kiosk Style Machine Running a Single X11 Application


By changing your Xsession file you can start a kiosk-style machine that starts a single X11 application.

On Debian you would change the file /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99x11-common_start. In stock form there is a line that reads:

   exec $STARTUP

Change that to read:

   exec firefox javascript:%20resizeTo\(1024,768\)

and your machine will boot directly into Firefox at a screen size of 1024x768. Of course you can change the size to any resolution you like. You can probably also add more javascript as well and force opening a web page and other stuff. Combine this with Bastille and an autologin of a non-privileged user and you'll have a very convenient (and cheap) kiosk.

On some Linux distros the Xsession file may actually be a single file rather than a directory of files. A search such as:

    find /etc/X11 -iname 'Xsession*'

should find it for you. The actual line to change may differ also but should be near the end and be an exec statement or a function call that invokes exec.


Jim Peterson Technology Coordinator, Goodnight Memorial Library Author of Jimmy the Geek blog


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Neal's picture

If you are looking at creating a kiosk then its worth trying the R-Kiosk plugin for firefox. It disables forward/back/right click/menus/mostly everything just leaving you with a browser window. If you manage to lock yourself out of your firefox then you can bypass it with "firefox -safe-mode", not that I ever did that... :)

Privacy Mode

Arky's picture

To increase privacy use kiosk mode firefox with private browsing session feature

thank you!

alison's picture

I need to set up a kiosk here at work in the next couple of days and was just about to look into how to do so.

Alison Chaiken
(650) 279-5600 (cell)


Stu's picture

I've been poking around for the pieces I'd need to turn a laptop into a Video Diary Kiosk for a friends wedding. This sounds like one of my clincher pieces!


Luis Fernando Planella Gonzalez's picture

In Ubuntu (and most distros, I think) you can have a .xsession file in the user home, which is much better than messing with system files.
Also, the javascript could be changed to javascript:resizeTo\(screen.width,screen.height\) to make it full screen in all cases.

Good Tips.... I will try

Satish_Wagh's picture

Good Tips....
I will try this to have fun with "Kiosk" Mode.