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Setting Up Mac OS X for a Teenage Coffeehouse? 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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Setting Up Mac OS X for a Teenage Coffeehouse?

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  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:42PM (#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!


    • by OECD ( 639690 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:50PM (#9357997) Journal

      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.

      • by lullabud ( 679893 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:27PM (#9358352) Homepage
        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.
        Very true, there's a good chance that whatever the case is they'll call you back one of these days to fix/update/change it. I'd make sure to create a disk image of the hard drive after you've set it all up. That way when they call you back you can just boot into target-disk mode and restore the original image, make any tweaks from there, then re-image. I do this same thing in Windows using Norton Ghost and it's a HUGE time saver. Luckily OS X has this functionality all built in with the Disk Utility.
        • I do not know much about MOX, but since it's basen on Unix you may want to have a simple script that reverts 'student' account everytime system boots up.

          Here is what I did to make sure 6 PC are running reliabily in my former high scool:
          - created 'student' account
          - created backup of clean /home/student somewhere else
          - created a small boot script that was purging and reverting from backup copy of /home/student
          Additionally I had a remote users database and home directories via NIS and NFS.

          So, my advice is: k
    • by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:56PM (#9358058) Journal
      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.

    • by violajack ( 749427 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:10PM (#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.
      • Aye, it seems that severely limiting their abilities within the system is the best way to go.

        When I was in high school, it was pretty common for people to type obscenities into the scrolling marquee screensaver. We eventually got blocked out of changing screensavers, and then desktops/resolution size, and then IE's homepage, etc.

        You do, however, have to be willing to take suggestions from the kids that will be using it. If they're locked out of a certain utility that they need/want to use, you should be
      • by Anonymous Coward
        In our OSX lab, we don't let them burn cds ... They can't run most of the programs that came with OSX, like iMovie or the Address book....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.

        That's why I hated school.

        (Score:5, Informative)

        That's why I view Slashdot as little more than entertainment.
    • by hoist2k ( 601872 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:21PM (#9358300) Homepage
      I set up a similar lab about 6 months ago. Went with eMacs, which have been stellar - almost zero problems. I was amazed at how well they stand up to abuse from kids, who can manage to obliterate a wintel box in a matter of minutes. I set up 2 accounts - an admin and a regular user. I actually had 4 machines networked together with the same accounts on all of them. The user accounts were somewhat restricted, just using the built-in user settings. As for shared disk space, the kids can save in their home directory if they want, but learn very quickly that it's not a good idea. Teach them how to use online storage (yahoo briefcase, xdrive, whatever) and burn CDs and they'll never go back to using the hard-drive again. It's not much different than college computer labs - sure you can save stuff on the drives, but the chances of it being there when you get back are quite slim. Also, encourage them to bring in their CDs and rip them to the harddrive - it's fun to see HUGE iTunes libraries (although it makes you feel really old). It also gets kids excited about "doing" things other than playing games & chatting.
    • What I would do (Score:2, Informative)

      by wirehead78 ( 576106 )
      Don't setup individual accounts! That would be incredibly time consuming. I would definitely have Student and Administrator accounts. You can set the Student preferences in System Preferences - Accounts. You can set limits on what they can do and what programs they can run (Capabilities).

      If you have a budget and some time to learn, creating a Disk Image on a Firewire drive would be a great idea. Basically: Get everything working perfectly, make a disk image of the system, store it on the firewire drive a
  • Mac OS X Hints (Score:5, Informative)

    by El Neepo ( 411885 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:44PM (#9357935)
    http://www.macosxhints.com/ [macosxhints.com] is a great place to start looking for the misc answers you may need.
  • by jarich ( 733129 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#9357938) Homepage Journal
    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....
  • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#9357945) Journal
    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.

    • 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.
    • Once you have the root account setup, you can log into the computer as root through the graphical login interface and then you are, in fact, root.

      To do this, first enable the root account via NetInfo Manager application. (Applications/Utilities). In 10.2, you choose "Enable Root User" from the Security menu. Then you have to set a root password. It is similar in 10.3. Then, at the login window, you choose "Other" and then type "root" as the username along with the root password. Presto, you are now logged
  • Take a look at (Score:5, Informative)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#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.
  • by Nick of NSTime ( 597712 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:45PM (#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.
  • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:46PM (#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!
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cot ( 87677 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:46PM (#9357963)
    if they're anything like the teenagers I grew up with, trust them with nothing and they'll be needing lots of porn.
  • Simple Finder (Score:2, Informative)

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

  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:49PM (#9357985) Homepage
    Don't tell the church that your Mac OS X box will be full of daemons. They will get exorcized over it!
  • 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.

    • 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.

  • Accounts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by huge ( 52607 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:50PM (#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.
  • by BortQ ( 468164 )
    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.
  • Mac OS X Labs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2004 @01:59PM (#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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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 accou
  • by dgallina ( 665193 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:02PM (#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
  • Knoppix (Score:3, Informative)

    by Angry Black Man ( 533969 ) <vverysmartman@NOspAM.hotmail.com> on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:03PM (#9358128) Homepage
    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.
    • Re:Knoppix (Score:2, Informative)

      by immel ( 699491 )
      I can run knoppix on my mac [crihan.fr], and I believe it will work on most macs with a New-World ROM (The iMac was the first to use this), so it should work fine. Can't promise you any current versions of knoppix on PPC, though. The latest I've seen recently is 3.2

      The only problem with a liveCD is that the CD drive is the only removable media the iMac had, and the students will not be able to play music on it.

      There is also a way to get around booting into knoppix. You can start it up in OpenFirmWare and eject the CD

  • 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 th
  • OSX Kiosk Program (Score:5, Informative)

    by w00k13 ( 587685 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:06PM (#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]


  • by Xargle ( 165143 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:07PM (#9358160)
    so Fonzie can get free credit when he kicks it. Aaaaaaaaaaaay!
  • 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.
  • by Vertig0gitreV ( 554511 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:09PM (#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!!

    • "I have attempted to do similar limitations for the Windows XP computers in the adult section of the library"

      Wow, you have an adult section in your library? Is is blocked by a curtain so under-aged people can't see what's inside?

      Oh and what town do you live in again?
  • Tar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zeek3 ( 686479 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:09PM (#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.
  • by _Bunny ( 90075 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:13PM (#9358226) Homepage
    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
    • 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.
  • No prob. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:14PM (#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. (Score:4, Informative)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:17PM (#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.
  • by bfg9000 ( 726447 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:18PM (#9358271) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • I work for a web dev company and we need to test Safari and IE Mac compatibility, so I bought an old iMac from a friend of mine for this purpose. I created an Admin account and a general user shared account.

    You specify which applications they are allowed to run through System Preferences, as well as prevent them from changing passwords, burning DVDs/CDs, etc. If you have any kind of proficiency with UNIX, you can prevent them from writing to anything on the hard drive by setting the permissions through t
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:20PM (#9358298) Journal
    First of all, best of luck with this! I think it's a great idea. (Among other things, teens are already hanging out at several coffee houses in my area, and since they are commercial/for-profit establishments, it's a pretty expensive pastime for them. A non-profit version geared just for them might help them socialize without loads of cash getting pried from their fingers at the same time.)

    But back to the Mac, have you considered the possibility of just using MacOS 9.1 on the grape iMac instead of OS X? I know this might seem foolish, but I bring it up for a couple reasons.

    1. There's an excellent program for locking down a MacOS 9.1 (or earlier) desktop environment, called FoolProof. It's usually used in educational settings, but it's a very flexible way to prevent people from saving files to specific devices, deleting or rearranging icons on the desktop, and so on. (And yes, it even prevents people from trying to bypass it by booting without extensions enabled.) FoolProof is commercial software, but there's a good chance someone might have a copy they're no longer using that they could donate to the cause.

    2. MacOS 9.1 would run much faster on an older iMac than OS X does, so it might give a better user experience in that respect.

    3. You won't have a great choice of web browsers under MacOS 9.x - but at least you have Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac which was fairly recently patched to fix security issues/bugs, and feels familiar to most users. You also have the iCab browser which could be thrown on there as an alternate.
  • by jeblucas ( 560748 ) <jeblucas@ g m a i l .com> on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:29PM (#9358371) Homepage Journal
    You may want to use a "controlled" browser. Ie, one with "parental" protections built in so the teens don't go porning up the church atmosphere too much. You can even whitelist, which makes you work more, but you know they can't dodge it as easily as CyberSitter or that kind of thing. They can probably still get around it, but they'll have to work a little.

    Check it out here [freeverse.com].

    • You may want to use a "controlled" browser. Ie, one with "parental" protections built in so the teens don't go porning up the church atmosphere too much.

      Are you sure you want them to get to the internet at all? All those ideas, all that porn, all that freedom. Maybe you should just install a nice selection of different [apple.com] bible [applelinks.com] software [com.com]? Oops, the last one accidentally has a couple of non-Christian packages. See what I mean? Dat ol' debbil he hidin' in dat big ol' Internat.

  • Which grape model? (Score:4, Informative)

    by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:31PM (#9358387) Homepage
    The tray-load CD (266 or 333 MHz, 66 MHz FSB, RagePro) or the slot-load CD (350+ MHz, 100 MHz FSB, Rage128) version? The slot-load models are **much** faster under OS X. If you have a tray-load version, you may want to consider running a flavor of Linux.

    If you can, round up one or two sticks of RAM to upgrade the machine to 384 MB or more. If you're going with OS X, try to use 10.3.x, it's much faster than previous versions... not so important for a G4, but for a little G3-based iMac like you have, it will make a big difference.
  • Mac Kiosk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thebra ( 707939 ) * on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:32PM (#9358397) Homepage Journal
    How to set up a Mac as a Kiosk [macosxlabs.org]. Very informative!
  • by BifurcatedFocus ( 579276 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:38PM (#9358450)
    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?)
    Since the grape iMacs shipped with no disk drives and only a CD-ROM drive, if you want users to save to removable media, providing a drive that can actually write data would probably be a good idea.
  • Suggestions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 07, 2004 @02:46PM (#9358553)
    Setup your user (admin user) and a regular user. Allow them to save to the hard disk with a caveat....no files exist longer then one day. Write a script to clean out everything and restore things like standard Safari settings and the like (run Reset Safari to clean it up..not sure if this is scriptable). Put the script in the Admin User's crontab or root's crontab. For user saving files to disk, use a USB hub and have them use USB Drives for saving their items. Failing that, they could use CD-RW's.
  • Here [nemitz.net] is a simple Web page you can copy. The whole game is embedded in the page as JavaScript. Saved as a file, this page can be accessed any time, and works fine with no Internet connection. Also, for Spanish speakers, the page has been prettied up and translated [cnice.mecd.es]. (Sorry, that link is not as exact as I'd like; click on "Actividades", and then click on "Adivina el numero".) You may need permission from the people who did the translation.
  • DeepFreeze (Score:3, Informative)

    by breakingthelantern ( 786241 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:23PM (#9358935)
    DeepFreeze is a program that i use in my 2 windows lab, but their is a OS X version available. It freezes the partition to a point that you can delete the partion, and when the computer is restarted everything returns to the frozen image. I use to reimage with a boot disk, but this is so much easier. the site is http://www.faronics.com/html/DFMac.asp Thank you for supporting youth, so many people forget them.
  • by blanks ( 108019 ) on Monday June 07, 2004 @03:31PM (#9359008) Homepage Journal
    Here you go.
    http://developer.apple.com/technotes/tn2002/t n2062 .html

    Large source of information, links software and more.

    I would rather do it with a pc running Netstop, but hay, if your set on a mac, then theres no changing your mind.
  • For kiosk and public use stuff but one thing I would recommend ditching is the puck mice. The puck mouse was one of the worst design decisions ever to come out of Apple.
  • ... 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
  • Porn. Lots and lots of porn.

    Straight porn for the kids, kiddie porn for the church staff.

    This is going to cost me some karma, isn't it. :P

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.