Aborted Ubuntu Core Web Kiosk Adventure with HP Mini (110-1134CL)

I haven’t figured out how to get WiFi working on this HP Mini (110-1134CL) under Ubuntu Core 18, but that’s not the main objective of my current investigation so I’m moving on with wired Ethernet. What I wanted to do was to build an Ubuntu Core powered web kiosk appliance to show the ESA Live ISS Tracker web page. I thought this would be a pretty easy exercise, all I had to do is follow the steps I did earlier to build an kiosk appliance running on a Dell Inspiron 11 3180.

Nope! The tutorial I followed earlier is gone, its URL https://tutorials.ubuntu.com/tutorial/ubuntu-web-kiosk now forwards to https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/electron-kiosk which is a tutorial to build an ElectronJS application into a snap. I don’t have the ESA ISS Tracker in an ElectronJS app (yet) so I poked around trying to figure out what happened to the tutorial.

Both the earlier Chromium tutorial and the current Electron tutorial are built on top of the Mir Kiosk shell. I found a good collection of information on this page proclaiming itself “Configuring Mir Kiosk, a Masterclass.” That thread did mention the chromium-mir-kiosk snap used in the now-gone tutorial, but that no longer seems to run. I only get a blank screen instead of the earlier basic web kiosk.

Apparently that snap was always intended to be a short term tech demo and there was no effort to maintain it to keep it updated with latest versions of systems. This thread claimed replacement is wpe-webkit-mir-kiosk, but there’s a problem for my situation: there’s no 32-bit (i386) snap that would run on this old HP Mini’s CPU. They only had pre-built binaries for 64-bit (amd64) processors

It appears if I want to put the ESA ISS Tracker on this HP Mini as an Ubuntu Core appliance, I will need to learn how to build it into an ElectronJS application and compile a binary that would run on i386 architecture. I’m not sure how much work that will be yet, but if I put it up on Snap store I’m sure there are people who would appreciate it.

Which occurred to me… what if it is up there already? I had forgotten to check the easy thing first. I searched on the store and unfortunately didn’t see anyone who has done the work I specifically had in mind. I did find a snap termtrack that tracks ISS as well as other satellites, but there were two problems: First, it is a terminal (text mode) application so isn’t as graphically interesting. And second, it doesn’t have an i386 binary available, either. Darn.

$ snap install termtrack
error: snap "termtrack" is not available on stable for this architecture (i386) but exists on other architectures (amd64).

Oh well, so much for a low effort ESA HTML ISS tracker built on Ubuntu Core. Which reminded me to look at how it works on my other Ubuntu Core kiosk failure: the Dell Latitude X1.

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