Learning by doing, and then, of course sharing – story of my RaspiKiosk and how to know what’s going on at a glance – by Xavier Rivadulla, Neomobile’s BSO Monitoring Sr Manager

A while ago I was working in our monitoring department. I was very dedicated to this project, trying to improve our big brother system. I spent most of my time understanding how things work and adding probes to be sure all was up and running.

Meanwhile, I was acquiring more knowledge on our infrastructure and adding more complexity to the monitoring system: in this process it became necessary to have a complete and instant overview of all the processes. This is why we’ve created a web page with the alarms, allowing us to see in real time the problems we had. The remaining question was: how can we make this page visible at all times?

So the first idea was just to add another monitor to my computer and open a web browser in full screen mode. Unfortunately, most of the time I closed the window accidentally. Yes, I want a clean desktop, and I hate to have many applications open… With this in mind the idea of something independent was born.

Again the idea was very simple: let’s reuse an old computer, open a web browser and there you have it… But I want this screen next to me, so it should be on my desk. After thinking it through, this was such a waste of space, I needed something minimalistic.

At that time I received my second Rasperry Pi, so the light again shine again and I wondered if I can use it for this purpose. So I started to dig in online and, as usually happens, I was not the first one with this idea. Inspired by all the ideas, I found that I only need Matchbox, an Open Source base environment for the X Window System running on non-desktop embedded platforms such as handhelds, set-top boxes, kiosks and anything else for which screen space, input mechanisms or system resources are limited, a web browser, and a simply start script.

Raspberry-Pi-2-Bare-BR

The Raspberry Pi model 2 (source Wikipedia)

And this is what I did. To build the web kiosk I reused and old Dell monitor, that can be used in portrait mode and in this way I could divide the page in two areas and see two pages. The second thing I used was a Rasperry Pi. I had a Rapserry Pi 2 and for me it was enough, everything was running smoothly enough to not be desperate waiting to see a page.

The code to transform the monitor and the Rasperry Pi into a web kiosk is really, really simple: open the windows manager with just a web browser that loads a page.

The browser I choose was Chromium because it has a “kiosk” option, so it hides all the windows elements that you don’t want to see, the progress bar, bookmarks…

In my case the web page is a simple page with tables, text and colours, so really light. It also has auto refresh to get “real time” information, but, this is up to you to add whatever you want to have a fantastic web page.

You will find all the code on GitHub https://github.com/Revolucio/RaspiKiosk/.

So follow the instruction and after install all the software and execute the script you will have a web kiosk in front of you.

Here you can check out mine:

20160728_182756

by Xavier Rivadulla
BSO Monitoring Sr Manager