OS2 World.Com Forum

Subject  :  Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  07 Mar, 2007 on 17:33
We have a family member who needs a reliable internet appliance - one which resists virus attacks, bots, worms, etc.

Firefox with OS/2 seems to be a reasonable choice.

Does anyone in the OS/2 community have experience with this?

Here is some background:
He is 30 years old, developmentally disabled, with a reading level of a 3rd grader. For the last 5 years he has lived in a lightly supervised adult residence. The residence is designed to help him and similar young adults develop learning skills and become responsible for themselves - to the extent that they can.

Over the years learned about the internet and uses it to access cartoon character websites.

He had a Windows computer. Over time it filled up with all manner of viruses, robots, and email from unsolicited sites. It got so bad that the computer wouldn't run because so many instances of browsers were initiated.

We pulled the computer and installed Microsoft Web TV2.

It is a 'computerless' web device with wireless keyboard and a TV set is the monitor. Micorsoft provides the ISP service and you can really restrict access to a child level and prohibit email. Since there is 'no software' he can't create mail accounts/etc.

But the MSN TV2 unit freezes up and/or fails. We are on our 3rd one. Not a good deal.

Basically we need a way to keep him from establishing a mail account We also need to be able to restrict his access to any obscene or pornographic sites.

Ideally there would be extension software which would prevent him from responding to any popups , or filling out forms. He does know how to enter name, address, etc. and has on occasion been able to order items - but he has a legal guardian (his mother) and the courts have declared him incompetent to enter any form of contracts with anyone.

I apologize for the length and complexity of this note.


Dave Palmer

Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  obiwan
Date  :  07 Mar, 2007 on 20:26
Firefox on OS/2 seems to me a good choice for keeping out the malware.

IMO, the best way to keep out the porn is with a filtered ISP such as http://www.cleaninter.net . They may have a solution to restricting form-filling and email, I don't know. If not, blocking outgoing traffic on port 443 in the firewall would prevent all https:// connections, which secure ordering and most free email services use. That is, if he is unable to modify the firewall rules himself. An ISP like CleanInterNet might even block the port for you if you request it, so then he can't get around it. You would need to discuss with them this particular situation, and your choice of an alternative OS.

Another option is a standalone filtering firewall device, but that is typically not cheap or easy to setup.

Innoval used to publish a filtering application, but I don't remember if there was an OS/2 version, or if you could even find a copy now, and I'm not sure how good it was. I don't put much confidence in the filters that run on the client computer.


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  dljone9 dljone9@os2world.com
Date  :  07 Mar, 2007 on 21:44
Sounds like what you want is for Firefox to run in "kiosk" mode, so
when the user boots up...that is what launches as his desktop &
he has limited control over making changes. I'd suggest using a
tool like MSHELL or Alex Taylor's ATSHELL (which is found here:
http://www.cs-club.org/~alex/programming/os2/ )

This way, they user is restricted to just using the browser. Used
in concert with a router that allows you to filter out content by
keyword (very easy to setup), you got it all right there.


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  08 Mar, 2007 on 19:40
obiwan and dljone9

Thanks, both of you, for some good suggestions and alternatives.

I have been working on a bootable CD alternative - which would be similar to the kiosk solution. But I cannot get injoy or firefox to work while using the cd booted OS2.

I am going to try or pursue both sets of solutions. Thanks a bunch!
Dave

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  08 Mar, 2007 on 20:38

dljone9 (07 Mar, 2007 21:44):
...... Usedin concert with a router that allows you to filter out content by
keyword (very easy to setup), you got it all right there.

I'm interested in a conceptual solution to how this might be done.

Do you have any pointers or websites you could recommend?

thx, Dave

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  dljone9 dljone9@os2world.com
Date  :  08 Mar, 2007 on 21:16
It's a snap - the devices I have seen manufactured by D-Link have
an HTML interface, that you access with a browser. The menus allow
you to restrict web site access by keyword and/or URL. For example,
you could enter terms like "Pamela Anderson's Naughty Bits" (I am
of course trying to use a reasonably polite example) as off limits, in
addition to URL's used for e-mail like "mail.yahoo.com" or "gmail.com
or any other well-known free e-mail service..

It will also generate logs, so you can see what web sites he may have
tried to access to bypass your security measures & simply add 'em
to the list...then whoever uses that system, will not be able to get to
any web sites that you can restrict. Of course, nothing is perfect and I
do not imagine a real astute user would be befuddled for very long
by such a tool - but for someone who is not terribly sophisticated in
the technology realm...it would be sufficient.


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  dljone9 dljone9@os2world.com
Date  :  08 Mar, 2007 on 21:25
Here is a web site where such a topic is dealt with, though products
made by Linksys, et al are used as examples. DO NOT spend a
dime on Linksys prodcuts, they are not high-quality. I have had
nothing but trouble with routers, network cards, PCMCIA devices,
etc. made by Linksys. D-Link stuff always works as advertised, in my experience:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1650669,00.asp


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  davidfor
Date  :  09 Mar, 2007 on 00:16
There are a few Firefox extensions that can help:

- AdBlock can block a lot of different adds
- There is one that will effectively bleep "naughty" words from a page. I don't know what it is called, I saw a discussion about it on MozillaZine.
- FlashBlock can block Flash animations. But it puts a placeholder to start the animation if you want.
- There are probably Greasemonkey scripts to help. This runs Javascript scripts against a page to change how it works. There is a large library of user written scripts to look at.
- NoScript allows Java, Javascript and other executable code to only run on trusted domains.
- I just found one called BlockXXX that scans a page and if it finds "naughty" words disables all images and links on the page.

Also have a look at <http://kb.mozillazine.org/Parental_controls>. This is part of the MozillaZine knowledge base. It has a few suggestions and some extra links.

---
David


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  09 Mar, 2007 on 05:25
dljone9 and Dave
Thanks for the additional information.
The routers really look like a workable solution - until I got to the DSL or broadband requirement. Too bad he is in a dial up environment.

I've picked up some of the software pkgs already and will look into the others this week. Unfortunately the software choices seem to bring more complexity and or user choices than I think he is capable of dealing with.

The routers would have the edge here. No chance for tinkering and fewer opportunities for virus invasions.

Meanwhile I am still working on the bootAble package. It has the advantage - as I would implement it - of recreating the desktop each day, and with the Firefox s/w pkgs, really limiting access. If he were to overcome or defeat the security one day, it would automatically be reinstalled the next time he used it.

But right now I can't get either Firefox or Injoy to run. I'll be pursuing that and the other pkgs too.

Thanks again,

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  obiwan
Date  :  10 Mar, 2007 on 03:50
Of course it is your choice, but I would suggest that a bootable OS/2 CD is probably more work than it's worth. Using OS/2 already reduces the virus risk to almost zero. Keeping it on the hard drive would let you keep activity logs and such, and provide the convenience of bookmarks and history, and it would be easier for you to upgrade Firefox or make other changes. OS/2 doesn't decay and accumulate crud over time like Windows does.

If your heart is set on a bootable CD, there exist any number of bootable Linux desktop CD's, and there may be one or more tailored to this purpose. Not to purposely steer you away from OS/2, but if it proves to be trouble that option may save you some time.


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  10 Mar, 2007 on 20:39
Obiwan,
Your apt description of OS/2 is exactly why I'm a longtime OS/2 user.

My internet appliance idea is targeted for someone else. With his limited skills (3rd grade reading/comprehension) it is best to keep his solutions extremely simple and trusty.

A bootableCD with OS/2 and Firefox seems ideal. Keeping OS/2 on a CD prevents alteration or writing of files.

Assuming (at least right now) that Firefox will run off a HD, speed won't be an issue. (The boot sequence would recreate Firefox on a HD from a zip file on the CD)

Logs and bookmarks aren't of benefit to him. His user skills are limited and he seldom varies from a set pattern.

He never reads instructions and is a true 'button pusher'. When those buttons are choices on a computer screen, he sometimes goes places or makes choices that aren't good.

What got him in computer trouble before were attacks via email and websites which added s/w to his windows system. Over time it became impossible to use - there were simply too many add-ons running.

So, if he boots once a week or once a daily, his environment would be recreated and safe. As a side benefit I could turn in my technicians card and no longer have to fix Windows systems, or the current MSNTV appliance.

Well, I've rattled on long enough. Those observations are what let me to my 'internet appliance' solution.

BTW I am still waiting for info from cleaninter.net - their solution might work. I'm also waiting for info from ATSHELL - which might work too.

Thanks again,

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  dljone9 dljone9@os2world.com
Date  :  10 Mar, 2007 on 21:03
Just thinking out loud here...

What if you ran Firefox this way - the STARTUP.CMD, upon
every boot - would unzip a backed up, fresh installation. No
saved passwords, add-ons or what have you (the zip files
would be marked as non-deletable, etc.). Then have jproxy
or smartcache running locally as a proxy - that had been
customized to restrict access to well known e-mail sites
(both are wicked easy to configure, really very simple).

This scanrio could be employed on dial-up, no worries...



Dave (10 Mar, 2007 20:39):
Obiwan,
Your apt description of OS/2 is exactly why I'm a longtime OS/2 user.

My internet appliance idea is targeted for someone else. With his limited skills (3rd grade reading/comprehension) it is best to keep his solutions extremely simple and trusty.

A bootableCD with OS/2 and Firefox seems ideal. Keeping OS/2 on a CD prevents alteration or writing of files.

Assuming (at least right now) that Firefox will run off a HD, speed won't be an issue. (The boot sequence would recreate Firefox on a HD from a zip file on the CD)

Logs and bookmarks aren't of benefit to him. His user skills are limited and he seldom varies from a set pattern.

He never reads instructions and is a true 'button pusher'. When those buttons are choices on a computer screen, he sometimes goes places or makes choices that aren't good.

What got him in computer trouble before were attacks via email and websites which added s/w to his windows system. Over time it became impossible to use - there were simply too many add-ons running.

So, if he boots once a week or once a daily, his environment would be recreated and safe. As a side benefit I could turn in my technicians card and no longer have to fix Windows systems, or the current MSNTV appliance.

Well, I've rattled on long enough. Those observations are what let me to my 'internet appliance' solution.

BTW I am still waiting for info from cleaninter.net - their solution might work. I'm also waiting for info from ATSHELL - which might work too.

Thanks again,



Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  zman zirkle@wizard.net
Date  :  11 Mar, 2007 on 17:17
you mention cartoons. can os/2's obsolete multimedia disply the content? my recent foray into linux reveals much better multimedia; but, even it (e.g. totem) still falls short. at least flash v9 is supported (it is illegal to run flash 7 on os/2). linux also has a steep learning curve.

if you use os/2 can the people at the group home work with this system?

in the hands of someone who knows (like el vato!) how to strip down windows xp, turn off the ocx and vb, and limit the user permissions, windows can be secure enough. a friend of mine's sister has down syndrome and they use windows with little trouble at their group home!


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 03:09

dljone9 (10 Mar, 2007 21:03):
Just thinking out loud here...

What if you ran Firefox this way - the STARTUP.CMD, upon
every boot - would unzip a backed up, fresh installation. No
saved passwords, add-ons or what have you (the zip files
would be marked as non-deletable, etc.).


You, your idea sounds better and better. I'd toyed with that before, but migrated to a CD solution to protect system files. However it might be the best solution.

Thanks to Hayo Ban I was able to generate a config.sys to my liking, with options I needed..

Now I am able to get some HD applications running using the CD booted system.

I've still not reached my destination - which is to get Firefox and Injoy running.

Firefox starts from a window prompt and then returns to the window - without displaying a Firefox screen.

Injoy doesn't even invoke the modem string.

But a database program, DeScribe, and even IBM's old Explorer run.

Oh well, I'll keep plugging away. Thanks again, and if you know of any reasons why I'm running into a deadend, please share them with me.

Thanks again,

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 03:15

zman (11 Mar, 2007 17:17):
you mention cartoons. can os/2's obsolete multimedia disply the content? my recent foray into linux reveals much better multimedia; but, even it (e.g. totem) still falls short. at least flash v9 is supported (it is illegal to run flash 7 on os/2). linux also has a steep learning curve.
!

Hi Zman,
I'm not a cartoon or comics wizard - Superman was still young when I gave up on comics, but OS/2 with Firefox was jumping when I went to the Garfield site. This is one of his favorite destinations. I figure if that one works I am home free.

None of the folks in the home are computer literate. That is why I am partial to an OS/2 solution. In all my years I've not encountered a virus, nor have I had any software hits off the internet.

If I can get the OS/2 portion running off a CD partition and use a HD with Firefox, I think we'll have a bullet proof environment. But, that if, is a BIG IF.

Appreciate your feedback and welcome any ideas!

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  zman zirkle@wizard.net
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 08:16
the ecs trial cd from serenity systems might give you some tips.

Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  dljone9 dljone9@os2world.com
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 12:37
so our challenege now is Injoy - is this an external modem,
or internal?? what make and model of modem is it?

if this system also boots to other OS's, do we know what IRQ
ot is using in those other environments??



Dave (12 Mar, 2007 03:09):

dljone9 (10 Mar, 2007 21:03):
Just thinking out loud here...

What if you ran Firefox this way - the STARTUP.CMD, upon
every boot - would unzip a backed up, fresh installation. No
saved passwords, add-ons or what have you (the zip files
would be marked as non-deletable, etc.).


You, your idea sounds better and better. I'd toyed with that before, but migrated to a CD solution to protect system files. However it might be the best solution.

Thanks to Hayo Ban I was able to generate a config.sys to my liking, with options I needed..

Now I am able to get some HD applications running using the CD booted system.

I've still not reached my destination - which is to get Firefox and Injoy running.

Firefox starts from a window prompt and then returns to the window - without displaying a Firefox screen.

Injoy doesn't even invoke the modem string.

But a database program, DeScribe, and even IBM's old Explorer run.

Oh well, I'll keep plugging away. Thanks again, and if you know of any reasons why I'm running into a deadend, please share them with me.

Thanks again,



Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 14:31

zman (12 Mar, 2007 08:16):
the ecs trial cd from serenity systems might give you some tips.

That's right! I had a copy of that. Now if I can find it.
Thanks!

---
Dave Palmer


Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  BigWarpGuy
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 16:58
I believe one can download the demo and install it onto a cd.
http://www.ecomstation.com/democd/
http://www.ecomstation.com/democd/index.php?file=1
English
http://www.ecomstation.com/democd/index.php?file=7
German
http://www.ecomstation.com/democd/index.php?file=2
Dutch
http://www.ecomstation.com/democd/index.php?file=8
Russian

---
BigWarpGuy
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OS/2-eCS.org
Director of Communications
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
supporting the past OS/2 user and the future eCS user
http://www.os2ecs.org

Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  12 Mar, 2007 on 21:57
Ordered a demo CD -
Downloading, on a dialup connection, didn't seem fun..
Will post my results.

---
Dave Palmer

Subject  :  Re:Firefox as Internet Appliance?
Author  :  Dave
Date  :  18 Mar, 2007 on 19:14
Progress report:
With help from Alex Taylor (ATShell author) ATShell is working and close to an acceptable solution. Some minor details remain.

ATSHell invokes InJoy and the Injoy 'autostarting modules' invokes Firefox without a problem. There are some shutdown and unzipping quesitons, but it looks like a workable solution too.

BTW
Still waiting for the eCS demo disk to further pursue the bootAble solution. Then I'll pursue the IRQ question, etc.

The modem is on Com1, it is Zoom 56k (external).
Thanks,

---
Dave Palmer


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