This is the follow up and walk-through promised for making money using BrowserShots.org and the concept of distributed computing.
Before we get started, you should read over the previous post describing how BrowserShots.org works. After that, take this as a word of caution: Any requests that come through BrowserShots.org and match your computer configuration are served by your computer. You can’t specify any type of websites to reject requests for and just about any type of website from any country you can imagine puts in requests every day. There is a possibility that when your computer is taking requests, it could visit websites that you find offensive, or those that carry malware. For this reason, included with this walk-through are all the files necessary and the instructions to use a Virtual Machine to run requests instead of using your own computer. This way, not only can you use both your computer, and a Shot Factory on the same computer at the same time, you can defend yourself against the possibility of malware and offensive material.
BrowserShots.org Screenshot Factory can be set up on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) but because of licensing with Windows and Mac, I could not possibly distribute a Virtual Machine pre-configured as a screenshot factory like I can with Linux, as Linux is free. If you want to set up your own Virtual Machine running Windows or Mac as a screenshot factory, I can guide you through the process. All you have to do is ask!
I am also providing this video as a complement to the walk-through. It goes through everything described below and should help for those not familiar with Linux.
Now let’s get started.
Creating an account
Visit the BrowserShots.org website and click the Sign Up button found in the top right corner. Note that the email address you use during sign up is the same email address that BrowserShots.org will send payment to via PayPal.
Follow the on-screen directions to activate your account, (make sure to check your email’s junk folder for the activation email if you don’t see it in your inbox) and sign into BrowserShots.org
Click My Account, and you will see a table with screenshot stats, and below that, your screenshot factories with its stats. Your stats will all be blank at this point.
Preparing to run Virtual Machines
First, download and install VM Ware’s Virtual Machine Player here. This is free software that lets you create and run Virtual Machines.
Once you have downloaded and installed the VM Ware Player, download the Virtual Machine I created here. (You can also download it here) It is a pre-configured Virtual Machine with almost everything completely set up so you can load it with VM Ware Player and start making screenshots. It is a fairly large file, so it may take some time to download.
Once it’s downloaded, unzip it to a location of your choice.
Open VM Ware Player and choose Open Virtual Machine. Find your Virtual Machine in the browse window and select it.
Once it’s selected, hit Play Virtual Machine. It should load Ubuntu Linux and log in for you.
For future reference, the username on the Virtual Machine is user and the password is also user. This password will be used to change the hostname of the machine. If you are familiar with Linux, feel free to change the password to anything you like.
Once the system is started and logged in, you will notice this is just like if you ran Ubuntu Linux on your own computer. It is a virtual computer.
Changing the hostname
You must have a unique hostname to run a system as a Screenshot Factory. Browsershots.org uses the hostname to identify the screenshot factory with your Browsershots.org login, and to tie screeshots taken by the factory to your account.
To change the hostname on a Linux machine, launch the terminal. There is an icon on the desktop for that. Once it launches, type:
sudo vi /etc/hosts
This will prompt you for a password (which is user) then open the /etc/hosts file in the Vi editor. Press INSERT on your keyboard to enter edit mode, then change the name which is currently ubuntu to a unique name of your choice. Press ESC to return to command mode, then press :wqa and hit enter to save the document.
There is one more place we need to change the hostname so type:
sudo vi /etc/hostname
Press INSERT again, and change ubuntu to the same name you put in the previous file. They must match. Press ESC then :wqa to save the file. After that is done, reboot the VM using this command:
The VM will reboot and re-login, then you can proceed.
Registering your Screenshot Factory
Open a browser window in the Virtual Machine. Navigate to Browsershots.org, and log in.
After you have logged in, click the My Account button in the top right of your browser. That will take you to your BrowserShots dashboard, and you will see a button that says Register a new screenshot factory. Click there.
On the next screen, put in the information about your screenshot factory. The Virtual Machine I’m providing here has Ubuntu 8.10 installed. The hardware section doesn’t really matter, but you must have a unique hostname and select the proper Operating System on this screen. Once you put in all your information, click Register. You should get a confirmation that the factory has been registered.
Note, there doesn’t appear to be a way to remove a screenshot factory once you add it, so if you make a mistake, just register a new screenshot factory.
Registering a browser for Screenshots
On the confirmation page after registering your Screenshot Factory, click Factory Details. Scroll down on the factory details page and to where there is a button that says Register this browser for screenshots. Click that, look over everything on the next page making sure the right screenshot factory is selected at the bottom, and click Add.
After you register the browser, close you browser window.
Starting your Screenshot Factory
On the desktop there is a shortcut for Screenshot Factory. Click that and a black window will open asking for your Factory Password. This is your BrowserShots.org password. After you enter your password, the screenshot factory will take off and start making screenshots.
On Linux, the screenshot factory actually runs in a virtual session, so you will never see the browser open up like you would on a Windows Screenshot Factory. You can view screenshots that are taken with your Linux screenshot factory on the factory details page within BrowserShots.org, if you’re curious. There you can also view the stats about your screenshot factory.
And that’s all there is to it. The virtual machine will use 256mb of RAM from the computer you have it on, and you can run it minimized any time you feel like it without interrupting your regular computer use. You can duplicate the virtual machine as many times as you like, as long as each one has a unique name. The more you run, the more money you can make.
I know this is a long, and technical guide so if you have any questions, I’m sure others do as well so just ask away in the comments.
Image by theodevil br>