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February 20, 2014 — BarryK
A "child-proofing application" is one of the pending ideas that I had for Quirky6. Now implemented.

The way that I intended this to work is you give a child (or spouse) Quirky on a USB stick. They can bootup on your computer, and can access the Internet, printer, scanner, optical drive, etc., but not your internal hard drives.

This is what the new childproofing system does. You can also childproof Quirky if installed in an internal hard drive partition, however the blocking mechanism works on an entire drive, so Quirky would have to be on a different drive to the one you want to block.

Some snapshots to show it in action. This is the "before" snapshot of the desktop:

The Childproof Setup application is run from the Filesystem menu, and this is the first window:

The final window has some technical description, so I won't publish that. But, after rebooting, here is the "after" snapshot:

Note that the internal drives are disabled on a per-drive basis, however, I have also hidden the first partition of the Flash stick, using a different method. This prevents the child from poking around in the first 'boot' partition and potentially undoing the internal drive disabling.

The childproofing script gets erased after it has been run.

Of course, such blocking is really only for "friendly" users, not someone who wants to break into your hard drive, and especially not someone with technical Linux knowledge. The methods used, though, will probably stump most adult users from the general population.


Huh? that would defeat the purpose. Once a Flash stick is childproofed, it stays childproofed.

No, the blocked drives are not affected in any way. They are only disabled from the point of view of the childproofed Quirky installation.

It is just that the Linux kernel will ignore the internal drive(s) in the childproofed installation. The drive(s) are untouched and still work as normal.

Seriously, with the tons of scrap around, surely it's easier to give the kids PCs of their own, one each in each room of the house. Not a problem running compact distros like Puppy that can be tailored to meet their individual needs (rather than wants). It's not the PCs in their life that are the problem - it's the smartphones. Added to which, they get smarter themselves with each generation. They talk amongst themselves on the social media, so hacks, cracks and backdoors are the currency of their world.
Decent education, stable homelife, well-managed after-school sports/activities and eyes in back of heads strike me as more desirable aims.

The first window now looks like this:

This is more flexible. It works equally well for Quirky installed to a plugin-drive as for installed in an internal partition.

Mozilla Working on $25 Firefox OS Smartphones

L18L was, for some reason, unable to post a comment here, so sent it to me:

Childproof Reboot

Hope I am not too late to this party.
step wrote:
From your description I infer that rebooting the PC will make all drives visible again, will it? If so, a child even inadvertently rebooting the PC will bypass the child proofing. Did I miss something?

Yes you have missed something.
Grandfathers know how to protect their box from try-to-reboot grandkids: simply setup a password in the BIOS.
still can see that its necessary to torture children though.

still cant see that its necessary to torture children though.

Tags: linux