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Setting Up Mac OS X for a Teenage Coffeehouse?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-teenage-cathouse dept.

Apple 348

WCityMike writes "I plan to donate a grape iMac to a local church-run non-profit coffeehouse for teenagers, and would like to give it to them appropriately set up for the atmosphere it'll be in. I'm seeking advice on a number of fronts - what freeware or shareware applications would be good for such an environment? Should visitors be allowed to have their own accounts (presumably created by the administrator), or should I just set up one 'student' account and one 'administrator' account? If the latter, is there a way to prevent students from saving things on the hard drive (thus forcing them to use a diskette and/or the CD drive?), and/or a 'Simple Finder' interface extant for OS X? Is there existing software that makes this easier or more configurable, or is it all inside the OS? I'm fairly familiar with Mac OS X, but have never needed to run anything outside a single-user environment."

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348 comments

A great act of kindness! (5, Informative)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357912)

First, I think it's wonderful that you are donating the computer as well as your time. Good for you!

I would set up an admin account and several "template" accounts based on different types of usage such as "internet only," "power user," etc. You get the idea.

I would then train someone within the organization on how to setup, modify, and maintain the accounts (unless that is going to be you.).

Once again, your generosity of money and time is commendable.

Happy Trails!

Erick

Re:A great act of kindness! (4, Insightful)

OECD (639690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357997)

I would then train someone within the organization on how to setup, modify, and maintain the accounts (unless that is going to be you.).

That's key--I would make it a condition of the donation, unless you want to spend a lot more time re-jiggering that computer later. I can guarantee that even if they know what they want to do with it now, they'll come up with something different/additional within a month.

Better off teaching them to fish.

Re:A great act of kindness! (3, Interesting)

lpangelrob2 (721920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358058)

Interestingly enough, I just dumped my old PIII Dell on my church's doorstep too. Do I get any points for that? :-)

As for the Mac... maybe you can set up a portal for your group. Either have it locally hosted on the Apache server on the Mac, or on the web. Safari can go to that page on startup. I don't know what you might want on it, but it's an option. Mine's [fycfreefall.org] pointing to a forum where people can leave messages right now... soon it'll have a link to pictures of the group.

Re:A great act of kindness! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358136)

I plan to donate a grape iMac to a local church-run non-profit coffeehouse for teenagers

Wow, that must be the most happenin' place in town. Coffee and God. Join the marching band and you'll have completely ostracized yourself.

Seriously, why do the editors accept submissions from morons that "go to church"? If you are a Christian, double the moron factor.

I'm sorry, I can tolerate any race or sexual preference, but I can't stand religious zealots.

If I find out which co-worker keeps leaving "Giving Your Life to Christ" pamphlets in the shitter, I'm going straight to HR to get his ass terminated.

-Cecil

Re:A great act of kindness! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358170)

leaving "Giving Your Life to Christ" pamphlets in the shitter

I hear you.

Religion, particularly the organized Christian sects, is the ultimate form of discrimination.

It discriminates people based on sex, race, appearance, wealth, occupation, personal history and so on just so that the priests could grab just a little bit more power.

Re:A great act of kindness! (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358174)

Heh, I only do it to annoy you!!

Re:A great act of kindness! (-1, Flamebait)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358230)

I'm sorry, I can tolerate any race or sexual preference, but I can't stand religious zealots.

You really are pretty stupid and bigoted, aren't you? Sounds like someone else has zealotry issues...

Re:A great act of kindness! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358241)

Cram it, bible thumping god freak.

Re:A great act of kindness! (0, Offtopic)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358139)

I'd also suggest setting up Airport Express and stream audio to whatever stereo system you may have.

Re:A great act of kindness! (5, Informative)

violajack (749427) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358193)

Multiple accounts is definintely an easy way to go. You only need one "admin" account with the ability to install stuff. Give that password only to the person in charge of the machine.

In the Users pane of System Prefs you can create a student account and then click on capabilities and pretty much block them out of everything.

In our OSX lab, we don't let them burn cds or open most of the utilites (including system prefs). They can't run most of the programs that came with OSX, like iMovie or the Address book. We just set up a new cafe image with only a browser and the most popular chat clients in the dock, and then turned off that user's ability to change the dock. The "Cafe" user only has the capability to run those programs. Simple Finder is also a good idea.

Once, we accidentally left some of the system prefs access on and the machine had a new desktop background within hours. People, especially teenagers will want to push the rules just as far as they can, you have to lock them out of as much as possible.

Free Porn in efnet #politics (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357925)

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Just say "no"... (-1, Offtopic)

Byteme (6617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357931)

...to drugs.

Offtopic? (1, Informative)

Byteme (6617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358111)

Coffee is a drug.

Re:Offtopic? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358171)

Coffee is a drug.

No, caffeine is a drug, coffee is a suspension.

Which church? (1)

EmCeeHawking (720424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357932)

a local church-run non-profit coffeehouse for teenagers

Well I guess that rules out the LDS ( Mormon ) church :)

Mac OS X Hints (5, Informative)

El Neepo (411885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357935)

http://www.macosxhints.com/ [macosxhints.com] is a great place to start looking for the misc answers you may need.

Re:Mac OS X Hints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358269)

I dunno about OS X - this sounds like a job for MiniFinder.

Image it before you turn everyone loose! (5, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357938)

Image it first, because no matter what you do, someone will somehow find a way to trash it or release a virus or the hard drive will crash or lightning will strike it or....

Re:Image it before you turn everyone loose! (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357982)

Well, I make sure to do that with all of my Windows boxes. While viruses aren't CURRENTLY a major threat to mac's, file deletions and random acts of God are (lightning, hard drive dying, etc).

I've recently switched to a Mac (15" Powerbook) as my main non-gaming machine. I Love it!

But what imaging (backup) software do you recommend? I haven't had much time to look into it recently.

Re:Image it before you turn everyone loose! (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358195)

dd always worked fine

Re:Image it before you turn everyone loose! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358242)

Carbon Copy Cloner [bombich.com] or good old Disk Utility

Flavor? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357940)

Why exactly does the "flavor" of your particular iMac make a difference? It's great that it's grape and all but is that relevant information? Based on the fact that you included that information I would have to conclude that you are not technically proficient enough to pull this whole thing off. Thus, it is my advice to you that you abandon this idea and instead just give the church some money.

Re:Flavor? (5, Informative)

LordBanshee (766398) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358036)

It's common in the Mac community to give the "Flavor" instead of the full configuration. My guess is he wanted to give an estimation of the configuration involved, and that is good for me. for a Mac user "grape"= "iMac CRT 266 or 333, 6Mb VRAM, 6Gb HD, USB1, no Firewire", so yes I think "grape" is relevant information. On a grape iMac, you could run panther, and there is a "Simple Finder" equivalent on 10.3

Re:Flavor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358051)

Thus, it is my advice to you that you abandon this idea and instead just give the church some money.

Bah! Between the tithing and the "faith-based" government funding, those holy rollers are already loaded.

Mac OS X does support limits. (4, Informative)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357945)

Even though Mac OS X does not give the administrator as much control as other *NIX like systems (admin is not root, for example), it is possible to use the "system preferences" to limit the access of other users.

You can prevent them from rearranging the desktop, writing to any folder except their own in the /Users/ directory, and taking off/putting stuff onto the dock. At a lab that I administered for a while, I just put a student and admin account on each computer, and it worked well. The users were able to use applications like InDesign and Photoshop perfectly, and they kept their files on USB flash drives.

admin and root accounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358110)

admin may not be the same as root, but there is a root account that has the usual Unix powers.

Re:Mac OS X does support limits. (2, Informative)

smurf1974 (463833) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358188)

Actually the administrator account has the same the same control over the system as on other *NIX systems. Even thu the administrator account is not root he/she can always start a shell do a "sudo bash" and get a root shell.

Don't give it to them (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357946)

I wouldn't give anything to a church. The machine will just end up as a vehicle for spreading their religious dogma and hatred.

Re:Don't give it to them (2, Insightful)

drakos7 (627750) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358019)

Talk about trying to spread dogma and hatred.
Pot: Hello, are you there Kettle?
Kettle: Whassup?
Pot: You are so black.
Kettle: And what are you, #000000?

Thank you Carl Marx (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358029)

It's leftist idiots like you that give the term "liberal" a nasty connotation. How much hatred and dogma does the political left spread? I'm amazed that anyone on that side of the fence has time to do anything else.

Re:Thank you Carl Marx (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358117)

Karl Marx and as I always say... To each according to his ability, from each according to his need.

Take a look at (5, Informative)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357947)

This pdf link [macosxlabs.org] . It tells you how to restore a dummy user's home directory after each login (Its for OSX, not sure if the grape can handle that or not).

Aside from some software tweaking and installation, this should really help your setup.

Re:Take a look at (1)

RucasRiot (773111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358026)

Its for OSX, not sure if the grape can handle that or not The title is "Setting Up Mac OS X for a Teenage Coffeehouse?" so I would assume that it can.

Look at the Accounts preference (3, Informative)

Nick of NSTime (597712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357949)

In the Accounts preference in Panther, you can turn on a sort-of Simple Finder, as well as limit access to specific applications for users. You should play around with those options to get an idea of what you can do.

macosxlabs.org (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357950)

You're essentially looking to do the same thing many, many others have already done, and are doing every day, with Mac OS X in public lab-type environments. Do yourself a favor and visit

http://macosxlabs.org/ [macosxlabs.org]

...particularly the documentation [macosxlabs.org] section.

Good intentions misplaced (4, Funny)

agentZ (210674) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357953)

You heart is in the right place for wanting to donate your old machine, but the grape iMacs are significantly less secure than the tangerine ones. Be careful!

Re:Good intentions misplaced (4, Funny)

Lurker McLurker (730170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358145)

You call that a problem?

It's nothing that a good lick of paint won't fix.

Freeware (1, Insightful)

cwernli (18353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357956)

what freeware or shareware applications would be good for such an environment?

Yellow Dog Linux ?

/me ducks

Save yourself time (1, Redundant)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357962)

I would save yourself and the church some time and aggrevation by just keeping an image of the freshly installed hard drive and instructions on how to re-image the computer handy.

Well... (5, Funny)

cot (87677) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357963)

if they're anything like the teenagers I grew up with, trust them with nothing and they'll be needing lots of porn.

It's really nice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357967)

That a church is so accepting of the gay lifestyle that they'll allow an iMac in.

Re:It's really nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357992)

They're probably Catholic.

Re:It's really nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358014)

No, the Catholic Church is strongly anti-Mac.

The 1st install should be: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357972)

Billy Graham's Bible Blaster.

Hopefully it got ported to the Mac.

Re:The 1st install should be: (3, Funny)

LighthouseJ (453757) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358192)

Bart: Got him!
Rod: No, you just winged him and made him a Unitarian.

Simple Finder (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357974)

Yes, there is a simple finder feature. It's available through the 'Accounts' preference pane.

-Ian

Word of advice (5, Funny)

toupsie (88295) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357985)

Don't tell the church that your Mac OS X box will be full of daemons. They will get exorcized over it!

Re:Word of advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358156)

Daemons != Demons

Daemons are nice. Demons are not.

Re:Word of advice (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358272)

Wow, I guess your church removed your funny bone, eh?

Seems simple (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357987)

I guess I would set it up in some sort of kiosk mode (does OS X have that? You'd think it would), and just hand the admin password to the guy in charge of the coffee house. Since it's church-run, and you presumably don't want kids to go porn-surfing, maybe some kind of Internet filter, too.

-Erwos

Re:Seems simple (1)

hearingaid (216439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358225)

The filter's a good idea. Maybe set up squid locally, and prohibit the box from direct-access to port 80 remotely except via squid.

Not sure how to do that on OS X, but it's a BSD so probably ipf or ipfw rules.

I would install fink on the box for sure though. Most of your favourite *nix sysadmin tools are either preinstalled on OS X or available through fink; it will help fill in the gaps in a big way.

Teens drinking coffee? (0, Offtopic)

genericacct (692294) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357990)

I know what Starbucks' answer would be, but do we really need younger coffee drinkers already? Guess it's better than smoking. Not much cheaper though.

I'd hazard a guess this isn't an LDS (Mormon) cafe.

Re:Teens drinking coffee? (1)

tsunamifirestorm (729508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358095)

do we really need younger coffee drinkers already?
Teens will be drinking coffee anyway. Just because it is a coffeehouse doesn't mean that everyone HAS to get coffee (and some will get decaf of course). If you have something interesting going on (acoustic concerts) or other type of foods (cookies, bagels) you will get teens who don't drink coffee.

Windows.. (-1, Flamebait)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357993)

This may sound bad but... a cheap windows box maybe better then a mac. Macs are great for people who can use them but when you take the general public (idiots in general hence why we have so many virus problems) and start to mix MS things become messy. Where as Windows is simple for them. Check for new updates once a week, update zone alarm and anti vir. Ta dar you just serviced your network and only needed to download it once.

Also the average church do gooder will have trouble with anything but Windows and I don't see many of us techie types having enough time to dedicate to a full network of PCs for the unexprienced.

Re:Windows.. (2, Informative)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358028)

Also, group policy is a great way to lock down a system. You can make a machine very fool proof in terms of not screwing things up. For instance, you could have a profile, and every time you log off the system discards it and uses the default one again.

OK I may be rising to the bait but here goes..... (2, Insightful)

doodlelogic (773522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358059)

The poster has an iMac. S/he wants to give it away. Why be mean and quibble about OSes? Windows, Mac, Linux, have their different merits in different environments but if it's free (as in beer) then no-one need gripe.

Re:OK I may be rising to the bait but here goes... (1)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358082)

I have a blunt spoon I could donate to a murderer, doesn't make it a great idea though does it? Everything has a good and a bad side, the good side is he's helping these people, the bad side is most people go "oohh pretty.. but I don't know where internet explorer is!".

Re:Windows.. (1)

eoyount (689574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358068)

That's flamebait if I ever heard it.

"The average church do gooder"???

First of all, it's aimed towards teenagers. They can pick up just about anything you put in front of them.

Second of all, apparently you think that only mindless sheep go to church, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

I know...I know...don't feed the trolls.

Re:Windows.. (0, Troll)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358115)

That is my exact opinion on church people. but I wasn't trying to flame, I was pointing out that the average teenager wants porn, sex and coffee. They want to click on IE type in URL and look at whatever it is they wish to look at. Not have to learn 2-3 different OS set ups and how each operates and runs.

Remember the average user will type with 1 finger and suck at using mice. The "average teenager" can adapt, but the average teenager doesn't want to spend time doing such things.

Re:Windows.. (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358197)

I wasn't trying to flame, I was pointing out that the average teenager wants porn, sex and coffee.

And they're getting -- a coffeehouse with Internet access! (Sorry, they're still on their own with the sex part.)

They want to click on IE type in URL and look at whatever it is they wish to look at.

And they can click the IE button and look at whatever it is they wish to look at! Seems like a good deal to me.

Re:Windows.. (1)

Android23 (212551) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358224)

The local bar here offers free internet access through two Macs on the bar.
Even drunk people from Cleveland know how to use a Mac. They usually say,

"Thish is purty. Theresh internet exschplorer! I think I'll read my email!"

No problems, no one asks the bartender how to use it.

If drunk people can handle a Mac, I'm sure high schoolers can as well.

Re:Windows.. (2, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358100)

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I read the post as that he was donating an old Grap iMac to the school, and not buying a new machine. Are iMacs even available in "flavors" anymore?

In any case, using a Mac isn't rocket science. The "dock" is pretty self explanitory, and for complete newbies you can put shortcuts on the desktop to launch applications. For example, put a Safari shortcut on the desktop and label it "Internet," or a shortcut to iPhoto and call it "Picture Tools."

Maintaining a Mac isn't that bad. You can install updates in a similar manner as Windows (though they aren't as frequent). Likewise with antivirus software.

With windows (XP for example), some software won't run right (or at all) unless you have Power User or Administrative status (in which case, you're system is wide open to getting screwed). With a Mac, you can lock down write-access to everything but certain directories and the software should still run.

I'm torn. I'm only a recent convert, but not a zealot. I'd say, if he's jsut giving away his old iMac (or one he got for practically nothing), then power to him (or her). Mac OS X "just works."

But if the chruch is already used to PC's and has never used a Mac before, it'll just be a little harder to get used to.

Church's are used to getting donations, and are probably used to getting stuff they normally don't use. I'm sure most have learned to adapt, and an IT guy should be able to get the hang of OS X (even admin stuff) in a short time.

Re:Windows.. (3, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358127)

You're clearly out of your mind. Windows? Teens? "Safe from Viruses".

Bwwwwaaaaahahahahahhahahahahahah!

Okay, sorry. OSX is a much, much, much safer environment for teens to be thrown loose into, than Windows.

I'm not even going to bother with the whole "Virus" thing ... no amount of Update Zone Alarm, New Updates or Anti Virus checking is going to prevent those teenagers from screwing the system.

Out of the box, you can set up an OSX account that deletes itself at the end of each session and renews the home dir every time, through the OS, safely. Check macosxhints.com for details on how to do this ...

OSX is -designed- for people like this, in scenario's like this.

Re:Windows.. (5, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358198)

Macs are great for people who can use them
Yeah, it's a shame Apple makes them so hard to use...

Re:Windows.. pfooie (2, Informative)

bobalu (1921) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358231)

I recently bought a Powerbook and found nothing at all that would make any reasonably sentient Windows user have a problem with email and surfing the web. The only things you have to look a bit for are precisely the things she doesn't want them to mess with!

Re:Windows.. (2, Informative)

AaronD12 (709859) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358248)

Macs are great for people who can use them but when you take the general public (idiots in general hence why we have so many virus problems) and start to mix MS things become messy.

People may be more familiar with the use of Windows computers, but they are also more familiar with the abuse of Windows computers. Let the little hax0rs on your PC and see what happens. Yes, you can POLEDIT until your heart's content, until the hax0rs bring in their Linux boot CD with the Windows password cracker on it so they can get administrative rights and turn off the site blocker.

Keep in mind that there are NO known viruses for OS X, NO known spyware applications, and NO known adware applications. Not to start a flame war here, but the Mac system will likely be running the same way when you first put it in service as it will be months from now.

As for the setup of the computer, I would set up an administrator account and a user account. That's it. Do not allow the users to add/remove/modify accounts, change passwords, or even modify the dock. It works here at the school I work for -- it will work there too.

Easy. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9357994)

Just don't allow anyone except christians in. Only those faithless liberal athiest pigdogs would do anything bad to God's chosen computer.

Accounts (4, Insightful)

huge (52607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9357998)

No matter what platform you are using, I'd suggest that you create just one account for the end-users. As always, keep it simple.

Tips (1)

BortQ (468164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358008)

I would say just have one non-admin 'guest' account that you can leave logged in all the time. Otherwise somebody will constantly have to create new accounts and retrieve their passwords when people forget them. You can control access to where people save stuff by altering the underlying UNIX permissions.

Here area a bunch of tips for you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358012)

Since this is for a church cofeehouse, remove the sixes from the keyboard. It's the number of the beast afterall

Do not include a cd drive in the computer. The kids will just assume it's a cup holder for the coffee they purchase

Teenagers are never interested in online pornography, so don't worry about filters

Create a god account for the admin, sheep accounts for the kids

Force homepage to CAP or Dubya's campaign homepage

Google is the tool of the devil. The lord shall lead the way to search results

Re:Here area a bunch of tips for you (2, Funny)

drakos7 (627750) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358065)

"Yes, I would like to order one cup of Cynicism and a mug of Disdain for the girl at the iMac."

Ohh... (0, Troll)

RevDread (141635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358021)

A new way for priests to lure in young boys... Computers and stimulants.

Although maybe your iMac will be emasculating enough to deter them from entering.

You could be doing a lot more good in the long run than you originally planned.

Why I love Ask Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358042)

By a strange coincidence, I just happen to be looking for teenage coffee drinkers for a research project that I am about to begin. Please send me photos of teenagers drinking coffee. Thank you.

Re:Why I love Ask Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358099)

Here you go [google.com]

KISS (0, Troll)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358055)

If it was running windows i would just say give up and leave it on default install. It would be full of porn and downloaded crap within a week. Because its a mac you might have a bit of a head start (might take them abit longer to get MSN working) and the browser (as long as its not IE for mac, stay away from IE for mac it is the devils work) might not get infested with porn pop-ups. Dont bother with accounts, no-one is going to need their own space and if you dont want anyone saving things on the hard-drive then accounts are definately not needed. Just stick a student account on, leave it logged in, and put a decent browser on, word processor (if there isnt already) and a multi-protocal chat client would be nice (gaim or something).

Oh and be sure to stick a folder in there somewhere called "lesbians" and stick the goats.cx pic in there (or script it to take a pic from the web cam and set it as the background with the caption "i was trying to get the lesbian porn".

The kids will want games, games, games (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358073)

You can fill the remainder of the drive with whatever you want after installing the 3 games that have actually been ported to the Mac.

Webcam (-1, Troll)

identity0 (77976) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358075)

Well, please remember to set up a webcam so we can view your, uh, female clientele check their email. It'll, um, imrpove security! Yeah, that it! Do it for Jesus!

Mac OS X Labs (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358089)

Look at Mac OS X Labs [macosxlabs.org] . They have a lot of experience in setting up machines in school labs (read: hostile environments).

If anyone would have info on locking down a system they would.

Lock .plist files (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358102)

Many finder preferences can be locked down by creating a root account, logging into it via the GUI, opening up the /Users/normaluser/Library/Preferences and highlighting the .plist file you want to lock. Then do a command+i (apple+i), check the "Locked" button. Logout. That way, a normal user can change the interface all they want while they are working, but once they logout, and someone else logs back in, everything is restored to the way you set it up. Of course you need to setup the normal user account FIRST.

A few questions and comments (4, Informative)

dgallina (665193) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358122)

You didn't really specify what the machine would be used for. I'm assuming, given the environment, that it will be used mostly for Internet surfing & email. Unless you or another admin is going to be available to maintain user accounts, I *would* use a generic account for the users and a well-protected admin account. The Panther (10.3) finder *does* have a Simple Finder option. You can turn it on in the Accounts preferences pane after you create the user account. It gives you (some) options for limiting what the users are & aren't allowed to change as regards the desktop interface. If you need more granular control of applications or rights, you can add/remove apps from the machine and you can change the access rights via the underying UNIX group and permissions system. That level of detail might be more than you need or that you can administer, however, if you're not somewhat familiar with the UNIX underpinnings. In terms of recommended software: you definately want to supplement or replace IE with Safari and/or some of the Mozilla-derived browsers (Camino, Mozilla, Firefox). The various security glitches and pop-ups inherent in IE could make it a risk. You may want to consider adding some remote control software in case you have to remotely assist somebody or fix the machine remotely. Timbuktu and Apple Remote Desktop are popular commercial options. You might find something like VNC preferable for this environment, however, as it's free and relatively lightweight. All of these remote control options assume a broadband connection. You may also consider enabling remote SSH access if you need a lighter (terminal-only) remote admin mechanism. You *definately* want to turn the OSX built-in firewall on assuming that this machine will be directly connected to the Internet. The basic options are easy to setup via the sharing and related preference panes. You might also consider an anti-virus application such as Virex or Symantec NAV. I don't consider these critical for my personal use since there is so little OSX virus activity, but it's probably better to be prudent on a shared machine. Since this scenario uses a shared guest account on the machine, you'll probably want to avoid letting users use local mail applications such as Mail.App . Suggest that a web-mail interface might be simpler and require less maintenance on your part. Good luck

At Ease? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358123)

I know that older systems (alright, it was around the time of System 7 last time I seriously used a Macintosh) had something called At Ease, that would allow you to do just that, it gave them their own space, and let's people do whatever when it comes to what you want them to do and doesn't allow them to save things to the HD if you don't want people to, of if they do, only in one folder, and a floppy disk (and you can disable Floppy access if you so choose, as well). Not sure if anything like that exists today, but you can sure check and see.

Knoppix (2, Informative)

Angry Black Man (533969) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358128)

I know it wont work for you, sicne your donating an iMac (i dont believe Knoppix is available for PPC's), but I recently setup a school computer lab and found the best solution to keep the computers working is just leave a knoppix cd in the drive and use knoppix live cd as the OS.

They can listen to their music, compose documents (OO), browse the web with flash, install plugins for firefox (granted its linux so they cant install much), etc. Plus, some of the older kids even like to mess around in linux to learn it a bit. They can do anything that they need to, and the best part: no matter what, when they reboot the computer is back to normal.

I've seen similar windows software (fortess, deep freeze), but they all resulted in crippled systems (fortress wouldnt let you right click because then you could potentially disable the program). I also was able to get around deep freeze in high school in about 30 minutes, and Im sure some smart student can bypass fortress if they truly wanted to (it was not used when i was in school). Knoppix, however, is not subject to such vulnerabilities and provides more functionality. Plus, its free and 3rd party apps can cost a heapload.

Seriously, if you're doing a project like this guy with x86's, at least consider knoppix as an option. It really does have a lot of pro's.

Seriously (-1, Offtopic)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358130)

Why doesn't anyone ever give ME a mac? I mean, I have STACKS of PC's, but I can never score a mac... someone either throws it out, or gives it to a place like a church.

Im not greedy... something that will run OS X, so I can do some development on it.

visitor account + backup & revert home folder (1)

davids-world.com (551216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358142)

Great you're doing this.
I would create a restricted 'visitor' account (see Accounts pane in the preferences), and back up the account's home folder on each machine (or simply once, centrally). Then run a nightly script to revert the home folder to it's original state. That's better than disallowing write access completely -- it is very useful if a user wants to download some file (which always goes to the desktop by default) - and maybe print / burn / e-mail it!

The user configuration (i.e. the fact that the user actually exists and what is home dir is etc.) is stored in a NetInfo database -- the NetInfo manager is your friend. But you shouldn't need it if you create the account manually on the machine.

Also, remove stuff like Apple Mail, which is of no use on a shared account.

I agree with an earlier suggestion here to call your restricted account "sheep". :-)

OSX Kiosk Program (5, Informative)

w00k13 (587685) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358155)

I have never used it. But here is an application to make it into a kiosk. Good Luck.

http://www.ncsu.edu/mac/software/webXkiosk.html [ncsu.edu]

-Adam

in re: storage access (1)

sjalex (757770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358158)

Personally I think it would be a good thing to lock down the hard drive (except temp files maybe?), but aside from CDs and floppies it might make sense in this day and age to make USB mass storage accessible too. I don't know if a lot of teenagers have usb keys for storage, but they are cheap enough now that they're a pretty good solution for generic portable storage. It might make sense in the context of a card reader or digital camera to do this too.

Add some sort of movement detector (4, Funny)

Xargle (165143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358160)

so Fonzie can get free credit when he kicks it. Aaaaaaaaaaaay!

reload HD image (1)

mobiux (118006) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358179)

not sure how Apple's work with a HD clone.

But one of the easiest ways I found to fix problems is to give the caretaker a CD with a preset image of the HD. If something gets fubar, they just have to boot off the CD and it will reimage the OS back to the original state. Since it's a shared computer, nothing valuable should be stored on it anyway.

live cd? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358181)

I haven't done this with a mac, but what about using a Linux Live CD distrobution (ex. Knoppix, Feather, etc.)? We have a coffee shop in town that has a donated computer running Knoppix and it has been great. There is no hard drive, so nobody is saving wierd files, viruses, cookies, etc. To clean up any "damage" the owners just reboot the computer.

Does anyone have any knowledge of Live CD distros for a Mac?

Same Deal at our Library (5, Informative)

Vertig0gitreV (554511) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358182)

I have basically done the same thing with 4 iMacs (233Mhz 320mb RAM)I donated to my local public library. They are used as internet/office/iTunes/AIM stations in a young adults room (grades 4-9). They are currently running 10.3.4 with shadow killer (a MUST for older machines running 10.x. Found at http://www.haxies.com ).

I set mine up with an Admin account (named staff) and a simple finder account (named student). Just go into the UserAccount section of system preferences, set the account you want limited to "simple finder" and limit what else you don't want them to have access to. It is also handy to give them a little bit of space to use for autosave in office and such (or scratch disks in Photoshop).

I have attempted to do similar limitations for the Windows XP computers in the adult section of the library (Using XP Security Console plug-in by Doug Knox), but have had nowhere near the success as I have had with the Macs. They have been running for a year now with ZERO down time.

Good Luck!!

Tar (3, Insightful)

zeek3 (686479) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358184)

I currently admin about 25 public Macs running OS X. What we currently do have two accounts- one guest and one admin. A clean copy of the guest account is kept compressed (tar) on the hard drive. At startup, the old guest home folder is removed and replaced the with backup that has nothing extra there. This saves lots of headaches since problems can usually be fixed with a restart. Couple that with some creative permissions and SetFile (found in developer tools) to make unnecessary things invisible and you have a secure workstation that can be put back to like-new condition with only a reboot.

try deep freeze (1)

cheekoli (698875) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358205)

I've recently had to setup some computers for a school with the same kind of requirements. Of course there will always be ways around everything... but I went through and created a single account for all end users, limited its access in the accounts control panel, checked the unix permissions in key areas, and installed deep freeze. Deep freeze is an app which basically takes a snapshot of the HDD, monitors any changes, and reverts them at reboot. So... if the computer DOES get messed with, you can just tell the (usually non-technical) attendants to simply reboot and the machine gets sent back to it's pristine state. Check out: http://www.faronics.com/ http://www.faronics.com/doc/DeepFreezeMacOSX.pdf

One Word: DriveShield (5, Informative)

_Bunny (90075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358226)

Take a tip from an administrator in a public school system:

Pick up a copy a copy of DriveShield [centuriontech.com] for the Mac, and allow the students to do whatever they wish to it.

DriveShield is a driver that sits between the hard drive and the OS. Any writes made to the hard drive are redirected into a sratch area of the hard drive, and thus don't stick around for the next reboot. The machine will be back in the state it was in when it was locked on every reboot.

I've tested it by even booting off a System CD and reformatting the drive... on the next reboot it comes right back to how you expect!

The philosophy used to be to lock the machine down as tight as possible to prevent the users from making any changes to it. (Restricted Finder, Windows Policies, etc.) Products like DriveShield (DeepFreeze is another one) work differently -- they don't lock down the machine to the user at all, they just prevent any changes from sticking across a reboot.

Protect the machine with DriveShield (or something similar), and have all the kids log in as the admin. Quick and easy to do, and the kids don't have to be restricted to a limited set of options on the computer!

We've been using this technique in several of our schools now (only in the open labs, mind you -- not the staff computers!), and the only support calls we now recieve in those labs is for hardware problems, not software.

- Bunny

Re:One Word: DriveShield (1)

cbiffle (211614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358270)

Sounds like a neat program. Have a question, though:

How does this interact with 10.3's hot file clustering and on-the-fly defrag? It sounds like the results would be pessimal.

man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9358229)

Is it just me or are all the slash dot posts really boring today?

disk usage quota (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358234)

Linux has a package called 'quota' where you can
set a maximum disk usage per account. This is
pretty handy and would allow them to save things
if they don't happen to have a floppy with them.
I assume since os-x is based on unix it has
something similar.

No prob. (5, Informative)

cbiffle (211614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358237)

Disclaimer: I didn't use OSX before Panther, so this may not apply to the version you have.

Simple Finder is an incredible pain in the ass and confuses the hell out of Windows users. My girlfriend is largely computer-illiterate (she's memorized the motions and screen locations needed to operate Office, but not much else). I set up a limited account on my iBook because she couldn't seen to get to the web browser without dragging my Terminal icon off the dock. But that's a diatribe for another time.

I set up Simple Finder. No good. I can't blame her -- I couldn't really figure out how to get much actual work done with it.

In the end, I've been using a straight Limited Account for my Guest acct on the laptop, with much success. MacOS X already does a good job of keeping users out of one anothers' stuff, by properly setting homedir modes and whatnot. I've been working for a couple of weeks to bypass the Limited Account limitations, without luck. If you declare that the user cannot run a particular application, I haven't figured out a way around it that doesn't require admin.

However, unlike my experience with Windows, a limited account on OS X is still quite usable. Programs don't automatically expect to have root, and aren't able to sneak off and get it without asking (*cough*WinIE*cough*). If the need arises, the Auth Services password-dialog provides a way for an employee to work magic if necessary.

My recommendations, therefore:
1. Set up a 'Managed' account for the coffee people. Don't do per-user accounts unless you want to set up an LDAP server to handle it; cloning account settings on a single-user MacOS X system is a bitch. Retain an admin account for the employees.
2. Whitelist, not blacklist, the apps the user can run. Give them access to Safari and whatever else. Don't let them dork with the dock, etc. Specifically allowing access to a handful of apps will prevent them from firing up a new one from a USB key. Because they'll try. Oh, they'll try.
3. Unfortunately, I'd recommend against giving them iChat. iChat, unlike Windows AIM and GAIM, doesn't give you an easy way to switch accounts -- which is a must-have on a public terminal.
4. Lock down the keychain. Set Safari to not save passwords. Locking the keychain (with some known but non-obvious password) will prevent users from saving new items into it. This is a good thing.
5. Giving access to iTunes puts you in an interesting legal gray area. Like iChat, it provides no easy way to change accounts (in terms of iTMS). It also enables users to rip CDs. This may not be a good idea.
6. Unfortunately, OS X does not provide disk quotas, as far as I can tell (please, if someone knows different, clue me in!). The support is there in the filesystem, but there doesn't appear to be a UI. Keep this in mind.
7. As admin, periodically use Repair Permissions in Disk Utility to check for anything that's become accessible to the peons. More importantly, do this after you're done with the initial software install -- you'd be amazed at how much commercial software starts out world-writeable. (Bad Adobe.)

Good luck!

What I did. (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358261)

I just did something simular a few months ago. My dad is a highschool teacher and runs the "Tech" lab at the school. It has been a windows only lab, but after seeing how easy iMovie is to learn he has been wanting to get some Macs for a while now. Well the district just gave him money for two Macs, and since he isn't familiar with them I helped with integrating them into the Network and locking them down. Here is what I did.

You can lock down alot of things inside the users preferences. For example, you can specify that they are not allowed to changed any system settings (including those that would only effect their account like wallpaper), which applications they are allowed to run, and whether they can edit the doc. I locked all of these down, disallowing running the chat application and other things that they didn't need to be doing in class. I also locked down the terminal and disallowed >console login to prevent them from getting around what I had locked down. Anyway look there before you do anything else.

Not being a networking expert myself I didn't know if it was possible to have the kids logon to the windows domain, and automatically mount a home directory across the network (via smb). Furthermore it would a pain to manually recreate all those users, and I didn't have enough time to make an automated solution from scratch. So instead I just setup a single student account, and then wrote a script to mount thier network directories. I put a shortcut to the script in the doc. I also showed my dad how to create normal accounts, so that if a trustworthy student needs to do more than he can with the locked down student account he could give them an individual account.

For your purposes the big question is do the need to be saving things to the harddrive. If the answer is no (and I would expect it to be since they it is basically acting like a public terminal), just go with a single account. That will suffice for most people, and you can make special accounts for special cases.

As far as locking down the harddrive, by default they are restricted to /Users/student/ anyway. For our purposes this was good enough. All the windows computers had a program which restored the computer to a pristene state every time it was reboot, so the students were well trained that they needed to store everything on disc or thier network drive if they didn't want it to be lost. We were considering making a script that did the same to /Users/student, but decided it wasn't necisarry. The only potential problem would be if a kid messed with settings in /Users/student/Library/ that caused the program to behave unexpectedly. So we made a backup of that folder which the administrator can copy over the bad one if that does happen.

Actually I don't even know if it would be possible to completely lock the students out of using the harddrive altogether. Of course it would be trivial to just chown /Users/student to root and only give student read access, but you might run into problems. Things like programs complaining about not being able to save settings, or access a cache and temporary files in the home directory. You would have to play around with that.

Anyway I hope that helped.

seek help (0, Troll)

gerardrj (207690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358263)

... is there a way to prevent students from saving things on the hard drive (thus forcing them to use a diskette and/or the CD drive?), and/or a 'Simple Finder' interface extant for OS X? Is there existing software that makes this easier or more configurable, or is it all inside the OS?...

With due respect, from the questions you are asking, you've not spent much or any time using OS X in anything but basic "newbie" user mode and certainly spend about zero time configuring it in any way.

You should donate the computer to whomever you like and leave administration to them, or find someone knowledgeable in OS X and let them donate the time to configure and administer the computer.

Your sanity and the usefulness of the computer will be greatly benefited.

A Few Potential Problems (4, Funny)

bfg9000 (726447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9358271)

I've thought of a few potential problems:

Caffeine is a so-called "gateway drug", which can eventually lead to other things such as juice or even pop. Think twice before unleashing the power of coffee on unsuspecting teenagers. I wish someone had warned me when I was a teen. Look at me now, hanging out on Slashdot all day and drinking coffee*. Don't let it happen again.

If the Church is Amish, there may be problems with the iMac, being high technology and all. If they're against technology, give them an old Windows PC, there's less innovation in Win98 than a rusted salad fork, so it should be acceptable to even the most orthodox old dudes.

If these teenagers are anything like the teens I know, no matter what you do, one of them will have root access before you finish installing. Let them admin it, if you're over 30 they probably know more than you do anyway. It's sad that my non-computer-using wife can give me OS X tips, simply because she doesn't have to unlearn years of Windows and doing things the hard way.

* Even though the link between caffeine and Slashdot hasn't been proven to be cause and effect, empirical analysis supports the hypothesis. So monitor the system for warning signs, such as Slashdot being bookmarked.

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