I am just starting to learn Perl. I had an idea that there should be
free open-source Internet Cafe management software for Linux. I
searched around online but couldn't find anything. The program would
be appealing to anyone wanting to offer Internet access to their
customers, from Internet Cafes to hotels. Who wants to pay hundreds or
thousands of dollars for Internet Cafe management software? If running
Linux, one could put together a nice, secure Internet cafe with older
computers. There wouldn't be the same problems with spyware and
trojans that currently plague Internet cafes. Maybe a small
distribution could be made that specifically contains only what one
would need for an Internet cafe (like a re-mastered, installable
Knoppix disc with the extras removed and the Internet cafe software
added -- put the disk in, install it, and you are ready to go).
I am wondering if an Internet cafe management program like this could
be programmed in Perl and whether it is too difficult for a beginner.
I have some basic knowlege of networks but not much of an idea of where
to start. I can write simple programs in Perl but haven't done
anything with a GUI. I originally started learning to program with
VB.NET and ASP.NET but now am trying to go the open source route with
everything (PHP, Perl, Linux).
All the program has to do is:
* lock and unlock computers over the network, keeping track of billing
time. Or, alternatively, generate codes for pre-paid access (less
desireable because customers don't like this system as much).
* set all variables with an admin screen (price, billing period
(minute, 10 minutes, hourly, etc.)).
* be able to remotely reboot and shutdown the computers.
* Log all transactions and give daily totals.
* Allow the input of descrepencies (for example, if a customer runs out
without paying, or isn't going to be charged becuase the computer
crashed on him while he was writing an email).
* Set all computers' Internet homepages to a specific site that cannot
be modified by users or malicious software.
Optional additions for the future:
* the ability to send messages to the Cafe computers.
* allowing only certain programs to run (Firefox, Kopete or Gaim, CD
burning software for digital camera photos).
I don't own an Internet cafe; I just happen to find myself working at
places that offer Internet access to the public and this possible
solution came to mind.
Actually, one possible complication is that the admin computer would
probably be a Windows computer in most places, although it would be
better for an Internet cafe to run Linux because of spyware and to
possibility of using slow, older computers.
Would Perl be a good language to try this project in?
Would this be something that is difficult to program?
Can it be written in Perl and then be used on both Linux and Windows if
I install Perl on the Windows machines?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions people can offer.