Creating a Screenshot Factory for BrowserShots.org

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.

Video: Setting up your Screenshot Factory

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:

sudo reboot

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.

Final thoughts

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

If you liked this, please subscribe to my triweekly updates via RSS or Email. Thank you!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

19 People have left comments on this post



» KennethNo Gravatar said: { Oct 20, 2010 - 09:10:30 }

How do you prevent porn sites or God forbid, child porn sites, to appear on your shot factory?

[Reply]

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Oct 21, 2010 - 11:10:38 }

Kenneth, that is a great question. I run my Browsershots on a Virtual Machine so I don’t actually see any of the screenshots that run, but I can imagine porn sites and other sites like that do come through the queue and are processes by my computer.

While porn sites, however objectionable, are harmless if I don’t see them, child porn is another story and you bring up a valid concern.

What I plan to do to address this is to set up a rule in my router to block that sort of traffic. If you have the internet, you have a modem or router of some sort and modern routers/modems have the ability to filter traffic so the best way to block content you don’t want on your network is to take advantage of those rules. You can also set up a third party filtering system on your computer directly.

I’ll definitely update this post with tips once I get something in place.

[Reply]

» JordanNo Gravatar said: { Nov 8, 2010 - 09:11:20 }

Distributed computing do sound like a great idea but I am not sure how far the money making factor will go. Is it going to be really possible or are they going to comeup with cheaper mainframe computers that can even question the existence of browsershots? Well, I’m just confused. Many thanks for the informative post.

[Reply]

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

There is always something faster and better coming out, but until the free money well dries up, I’m takin’ a swim! (update on earnings to come!)

[Reply]

» RyanNo Gravatar said: { Apr 3, 2011 - 09:04:36 }

It appears your Ubuntu VM Machine you created is a corrupt ZIP, at least for me it is. Any chance someone else can check this please? Thanks!

[Reply]

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hi Ryan, thanks for letting me know, I’ll take a look and re upload if necessary.

[Reply]

RyanNo Gravatar Reply:

Jesse, Thanks! In the mean time I got it working with Windows 7, but IE 8 and 9 and the screenshot factory do NOT get along, so I am running with Chrome. Let me know if you get a chance to fix the zip, as a VM would be much easier to run this on. Also any word on what kind of payout you have seen so far? I scoured the net but don’t see really anyone mentioning it.

[Reply]

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hey Ryan, glad you got it working. I’m downloading the zip now to test it. I can always reupload it as well if the zip is corrupt.

As for earnings, I still haven’t gotten that post ready but I can tell you I made about $11 a month running 3vms for an average of 20 days out of the month. My computer is really not very high powered a almost 5 years old so a modern machine could probably do a lot more than this, especially a 64 bit machine. $120 a year isn’t a bad payoff for doing practically nothing though :)

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hey Ryan, it looks like the zip is good. I was able to download it, unzip it and run the VM and I haven’t done that on this particular computer. It’s a pretty big file, 600mb so I’m guessing maybe it got interrupted and corrupted during the download. Give it another try and let me know if it still has issues.

RyanNo Gravatar Reply:

Interesting, I tried on 2 separate machines, it would show me the files in WINRAR, but when it would go to decompress them, it would give me there was an unknown error. Are you using Windows machines?

Thanks!

RyanNo Gravatar Reply:

Ok, I got it, I had to download WinZip 15 to unzip this. WinRAR and the standard Windows unzipper didn’t know it. So, lets give this a shot! Thanks!!

» FloxitNo Gravatar said: { Oct 30, 2011 - 11:10:40 }

Hi! Nice tutorial and support for setting up Browsershots. I can’t enter Paypal address in my account (forbidden page), the website is probably abandonned and I don’t know if I can be paid…

Your link for your iso image is broken. Do you have a upgraded version and can you upload again ?

Regards.

[Reply]

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hmm I know the guy running it has been supportive in the past, see if you can contact him to fix the Paypal problem. I’ll double-check my link and make sure that file is still on my server, sorry about that.

[Reply]

» AshleyNo Gravatar said: { Mar 25, 2012 - 05:03:49 }

The links to your VM still appear to be broken :-(

[Reply]

» JoeNo Gravatar said: { Apr 26, 2012 - 09:04:43 }

Can someone please rehost the file? It doesn’t seem to exist at the given link anymore.

[Reply]

» ylNo Gravatar said: { May 2, 2013 - 09:05:46 }

Hi,

Are you still running your factory? Can you please tell us more about your earnings? How many screenshots were your uploading per hour and per day. I just want to get an idea how fast you need to go and how much you earn at that rate.

My factory was generating about 300 shots per hour and I think I was getting around 34 cents for around 13,000 screenshots.

Thank you

[Reply]

{ Sep 24, 2010 - 04:09:39 } Friday Night Likes — Financially Poor


 
css.php