pbl Pushbutton Linux rev: 2010 Sep 06


To some people, especially the elderly, computers are intimidating and confusing machines. This is unfortunate because there are many extremely useful applications on computers that this group of potential users could benefit from.

The Goal:

The goal is to breakdown this technology barrier and provide an 'appliance' that performs multiple tasks that are generally common and useful on today's desktop or laptop computers .. and to give the user access to these tasks or applications in a simple 'pushbutton' user interface in a reliable 'appliance-like' environment.

What is Pushbutton Linux .. and what can it do?

Pushbutton Linux is a suite of scripts and programs that brings a pushbutton menu driven touchscreen environment to the non-technical user to do common computer tasks reliably with a simple easy to understand interface.

The best way to understand what Pushbutton-Linux can do is to visit the MyPlace website and look at a video or slideshow demo. This is an example of Pushbutton Linux installed in a Live-Debian OS (Tailwind-live) running on an all-in-one touchscreen computer.

What tasks or applications are we talking about?

Currently, Pushbutton Linux has been deployed to:

What benefits do we see to the user?

How does it work?

Pushbutton Linux is a collection of cgi perl scripts called by an apache2 server running under the user's account on port 8888.

These scripts present a simple user interface using html formating in the user's browser - typically Mozilla Firefox (Iceweasel under Debian).

Many of the applications that a user is interested in are web-based and so a browser interface is convenient.

At the present time, most of these applications are hosted on the user's computer although they could be hosted on an external website. There are a number of applications that access computer hardware or non-browser code which is where the cgi-bin scripts come in to manage these 'external-to-browser' applications under the user's account.

For further information on how Pushbutton Linux works, go to the Pushbutton Linux Manual .

What are the Operating System requirements?

To meet the requirement of 'Appliance Status', the operating system that Pushbutton Linux operates on has to be a very stable and reliable system that does not ask the user difficult questions like 'would you like to upgrade your system today?'.

The solution used in MyPlace was to pair Pushbutton Linux with Tailwind-Live which is a Debian-Live based Linux OS that runs in the user's RAM and has been customized to have all the support applications required for Pushbutton Linux.

A RAM-based (i.e. 'live') Linux OS has the advantage of being easy to install, easy to manage revision consistency across multiple computers and easy to ensure consistent behaviour on reboots - especially if the user's workspace is also in RAM.

Unfortunately it is not clear how to support Tailwind-Live for general download. It is also clear that some individuals would prefer their own Linux solutions.

The conclusion is that Tailwind-Live and Pushbutton Linux should be separate entities and Pushbutton Linux should be able to run on any Linux OS aslong as the required support applications are properly installed.

Downloads and Support:

Pushbutton Linux development and distribution is hosted by Sourceforge.

Pushbutton Linux is licensed under GNU General Public License as Open Source.

The sourceforge homepage is pushbutton.

Code and revision management is with Sourceforge using git: git repository .

Bug and feature tracking is with sourceforge using Mantis: Bug and Feature Tracking .

mp Copyright © 2007-2010 Nordicwind Inc. All rights reserved. | Legal Statement | Privacy box