Setup a browser kiosk in NixOS with Xorg and Openbox

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Tags: nixos xorg openbox kiosk

I wanted to create a kiosk-like setup for a box hooked up to a touch screen TV. A problem I have yet to solve is to allow the users to configure wifi through the web browser, but that is a problem for another post.

Note that this is not hardened for security, and it is possible to escape the kiosk and get to the openbox desktop. However, this suited my needs, as I want the users to be able to browse arbitrary websites and save files to the disk.



I have done my best to comment the file to make it easily understandable. If you read the source, you should be able to understand what I am settings up here.

Save this file to /etc/nixos/xorg.conf.

{ pkgs, ... }:

  kioskUsername = "kiosk";
  browser = pkgs.firefox;
  autostart = ''
    # End all lines with '&' to not halt startup script execution

    firefox --kiosk &

  inherit (pkgs) writeScript;
in {
  # Set up kiosk user
  users.users = {
    "${kioskUsername}" = {
      group = kioskUsername;
      isNormalUser = true;
      packages = [ browser ];
  users.groups."${kioskUsername}" = {};

  # Configure X11
  services.xserver = {
    enable = true;
    layout = "us"; # keyboard layout
    libinput.enable = true;

    # Let lightdm handle autologin
    displayManager.lightdm = {
      enable = true;
      autoLogin = {
        enable = true;
        timeout = 0;
        user = kioskUsername;

    # Start openbox after autologin
    windowManager.openbox.enable = true;
    displayManager.defaultSession = "none+openbox";

  # Overlay to set custom autostart script for openbox
  nixpkgs.overlays = with pkgs; [
    (self: super: {
      openbox = super.openbox.overrideAttrs (oldAttrs: rec {
        postFixup = ''
          ln -sf /etc/openbox/autostart $out/etc/xdg/openbox/autostart

  # By defining the script source outside of the overlay, we don't have to
  # rebuild the package every time we change the startup script.
  environment.etc."openbox/autostart".source = writeScript "autostart" autostart;

Import the xorg configuration in /etc/nixos/configuration.nix

  imports =
    [ # Include the results of the hardware scan.

Now you can rebuild your configuration

# nixos-rebuild test

If you are making changes to the autostart script, you can do so without having to wait for openbox to be rebuilt again, thanks to defining it in a static file and linking it into the openbox output directory.

Note that the display-manager.service will not automatically restart after rebuild. You will have to restart it manually.

# nixos-rebuild test
# systemctl restart display-manager.service


If you have any comments or feedback, please send me an e-mail. (stig at stigok dotcom).

Did you find any typos, incorrect information, or have something to add? Then please propose a change to this post.

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