Linux OS for Browser based HMIs

A Browser Only Linux OS!

Ignition groov View

Browser based HMIs create lightweight, flexible and scalable deployments for control systems. It also reduces the hardware and software dependences on the local device that is accessing the web based service. As most users of groov View or the Ignition Edge perspective module know; the beauty of web based tech is that it is device agnostic, you can get to your service on any device that is capable of running a modern web browser.
Most HMIs or Industrial PCs still ship with Windows, I avoid Windows everywhere I can (sorry PAC Control, I still love you) but there are a lot of rocks in the world that can break a window and there are fewer leopard seals out there that can catch a penguin if you get what I mean. The tide is changing as many IPC company’s offer common Linux Distros like Debian or Ubuntu as a option from the factory.
This is great but still overkill as all of the before mentioned operation systems are full functioned and contain many programs and background services that are unnecessary for critical control system HMIs. Then requiring extra work to “Clean Up and Lock down the HMI”

What if there was a OS designed specifically to only run a modern web browser and allowed customizable configuration on instillation of the OS? What if it was Linux?

Enter Porteus Kiosk

Porteus Kiosk is a Gentoo base Linux Distro that is extremely lightweight (250mb for the OS and 1gb ram) for x86_64 processors(no ARM support). It was designed for public internet kiosk or digital signage. When the kiosk boots it automatically opens Firefox or Google Chrome browser to your chosen homepage. I can be customized to run on a “dark” control network and locked down by whitelisting allowed services.

I have deployed this on small IPC and tablets in a few of our facilities and it has been amazing.
Here are some highlights I have noticed:

  1. Boot time is less then 20 seconds from off to SCADA HMI.
  2. Opens to multiple tabs so operation staff never has to open a program or navigate to the HMI its just there as soon as they power up.
  3. Secure. Whitelisting and blacklisting in the configuration file prevents network traversal. There is no way for anyone to access the command line and the OS is read only. You can even hide the address bar to secure your IP addresses or host names.
  4. Lightweight and robust. Nothing but the necessities is running on the device and after boot the entire OS runs entirely on ram this prevents file corruption if power is lost.
  5. Highly customizable!

I am happy to help anyone interested in trying this out! Anyone else out there using something like this for groov View or Ignition perspective?


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Thanks for bringing this option to everyone’s attention.
I’m very careful to monitor posts that are too sales-ly, but this one skirts the ‘ok’ side I think.

I’m a bit surprised at the cost, lack of ARM support, and the need for it to ‘phone home’… But, again, its good to be aware of options.

@Beno there is no cost if you install your self on each device, the ISO is free to download. Our use cases are free. And independent and do not need to ‘phone home’
The cost is only if you wish to use their sever centric development.

Ah, thanks for clarifying; my reading of the site did not get that at all… All the more interesting.

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Sorry if It sounds sales-ly as I view it as a free asset to make groov view even more accessible and stable for our users.

I appreciate the monitoring, and I think you made the right call here, especially with the free option. Cool product!

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Important Update

I have been waiting to share this use case for about 8 months to ensure that it functions well. Using OS version 5.4 however the company has just preformed a major update to 6.0 wherein they “no longer support offline deployments” :frowning:
Effectively killing my use case for the future.
I reached out to the company and the responded quickly saying
“ All our systems must be online and updated regularly.
This is our new security requirement.
Offline deployments are not supported.”

I am digging in to finding a new solution that checks all the boxes one that will also run on ARM. I’m thinking a small Debian based OS with some custom scripting to act as a web kiosk.