2012-09-10

Dashboards Made Easy

If you work at an agile shop you probably have seen something like this:

You also find a lot about how people create those nice dash boards as a web page, but you almost never find out how to actually build the system that runs the dash board.

Basically this is a task for digital signage, but "standard" solutions like Xibo seem heavily oversized for running an internal dash board. All we need is a Linux box running a browser and the screen staying on.

As my team also wanted to have a dashboard, I  recently hat to build one and decided to put my effort into an Ubuntu package named kiosk-browser that can be found on the ImmobilienScout24 github page. The package turns a regular Ubuntu installation into a web-based dashboard.

Now the effort to setup a new dashboard system has been reduced to these steps:
  1. Install a computer with Ubuntu.
  2. Build or download and install the kiosk-browser package. 
  3. Log on as a user and run this command:
    sudo tee /etc/default/kiosk-browser \
     <<<'KIOSK_BROWSER_START_PAGE="http://your/dashboard/url"'
  4. Reboot 
If your system is a laptop or of you have a rotated screen you might want to add some xrandr commands to /etc/default/kiosk-browser to setup your displays properly. For the laptop that runs the rotated display in the picture this is:

xrandr --output VGA1 --auto --rotate left --output LVDS1 --off
sleep 5

I got the general idea from Ubuntu 12.04 Kiosk in 10 Easy Steps which has all the building blocks.

Update 2012-10-16: Now also with multi-monitor support!