Installing XP on the Zonbu

February 13, 2009

I would highly recommend you keep your original CF card around so you can try out the Zonbu update, but I’ve had a number of people ask about how to install XP on a new CF card.

Some people have suggested different sizes/speeds matter. I had no problem using a 133x 8GB card. I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 4GB.

Partition and format the card for FAT32 in a desktop PC using a card reader. Plug a USB CDROM in to the front of the unit and follow the prompts.

Originally I tried to use an XP install a friend loaned me, and it didn’t work. It wasn’t an official release. I used my official XP disc and it worked just fine, just a heads up.

So just make sure the (new) card is formatted for FAT32 and has one partition and then boot from the CD and you should be fine. I warn you now, its very slow. It is NOT a replacement for the Zonbu as a usable desktop, but you can use the Zonbu hardware as an appliance. A friend of mine is using his just to update his public IP so he can access his NAS when he travels. You’ll also need to hunt around for windows XP drivers for your sound and video. I can post later on where I found those if you’re interested.

If you want to surf the web and continute to do the things you enjoy on the Zonbu, you need the Zonbu OS, no questions.

-Mr. Zonbu


Zonbu Update – New OS Release in March

February 5, 2009

Gregoire of Zonbu recently posted an update to the Zonbu support site at

They are lowering the price to $10/month, waving cancellation fees and hoping to get out an OS update some time in March which will include FireFox 3 (finally).

Without quesiton, they are struggling.  The market has changed dramatically since they launched and we started tracking them.  There are now dozens of low cost/low power netbooks.  Linux and Windows XP are popular OS choices and the economy has contracted substantially.

On the positive side, the unit I put in our lobby for public use has given us not a single day of issue in almost an entire year.  Previously we had to re-do the windows box about every 90 days for various reasons, so it clearly makes a good kiosk for basic web browsing.  However, the low CPU power and poor video playback limits the viability for anything serious.  I have long said a board based on the AMD 780G with the strong built in graphics would completley change the game for Zonbu (although up the power consumption).  We’ll see if there is a new hardware generation coming.

Personally, I’m hanging on to my subscription because I want to see how they do. If the new release is as solid as the current one, it will be a welcome improvement and very usable. At the same time, I had to admit I have installed XP on a seperate compact flash card and I’m playing around with other uses for my quiet and low power hardware, in case the Zonbu thing doesn’t play out.

Here is the full update from the Zonbu site…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. Zonbu is alive

June 18, 2008

Hello everyone,

I’m still here.  Life took a detour while my daughter was born.  That tends to keep one away from blogging.

As soon as I went off the radar for a month or two Zonbu ran out and changed their business strategy, or at least course corrected it.  Which I happen to think is a good thing, and I’ll be writing about that in another post.  I am worried about how long it took and developments in the broader linux market, like Ubuntu 8.04 shipping (which is very nice BTW).

Also, Mrs. Zonbu ended her three month affair with her Zonbu laptop and ended up with a new $500 Acer running Vista.  I’ll be going in to more details later, but it was a wide combination of things, most of them Linux rather than Zonbu specific.

I have noticed traffice is also way down on the Zonbu support forums.  Is this a sign?

-Mr. Zonbu

Via to open source its drivers – finally

April 13, 2008

Via Technologies LogoHello everyone,

It’s been a while. I have been extremely busy designing, building and launching a full IPTV service. Now that the service has launched I can take a bit of a breather and perhaps post a few updates here. Lots has happened in the world of Zonbu in the past four months.

The most significant development by far is that Via has announced that they intend to embrace the open source community and finally start releasing driver source and details so the drivers for their embedded platforms can be improved.

The following details are excerpted from this article at

Via Technologies, although very popular with Linux ultramobile PC vendors, has never been very open about its own hardware. Until April 8, when, at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in Austin, Texas, the company announced that it will start opening up its chipsets to the open source community.

During the We’re Shipping Linux on PCs — Now What? panel, held at the University of Texas Super Computing Center, Timothy Chen of Via Technologies, said, “Via hadn’t been doing much [in opening up] — it’s been hard for the company to embrace open source, but at the end of the month you’ll see us opening up.”

This announcement drew a round of applause from the audience of Linux executives, leaders and core developers. Driver support for Linux distributions, a nagging problem, can be greatly eased by chip and component vendors opening up their hardware specifications and information.

In concrete terms, Via will kick things off by launching its Via Linux Web site by the end of month. On this site, users will find drivers, technical documentation, source code and information for the Via CN700, CX700/M, CN896 and the new Via VX800 chipsets. As time goes by, Via will add forums and support for more of its chipsets.

Hopefully this will help unlock the potential of the existing Zonbu hardware platform.

-Mr. Zonbu

We’re gone from the Zonbu wikipedia entry…

February 10, 2008

Well this is interesting, someone has removed us from the external links section on the Zonbu Wiki pedia entry.

Given that we’re provided, arguably, the most detailed third party coverage of the product/service, both good and bad, I find that curious.

I continue to be very busy at work with an IPTV deployment, but will be providing an udpate on the Beauty and her experience with the Zonbook soon.

She has used it as her only PC for a few months now and has some good feedback.   Hopefully I will be able to share that this week.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu OS Releases 7.1176

February 4, 2008

Zonbu posted a new release yesterday, the details below. A lot of things I was hoping to see haven’t emerged yet. I’m downloading it now, I’ll share some thoughts in a bit.

Certainly, in what is now a crowded space, I would have expected webcam support to be a top priority…

Version 7.1176 – released 2007-02-03

New features

  • Added the capability to share files on a local network with the Neighborhood (Samba)
  • Added the Amazon MP3 Store to the Music Library
  • Added music sharing to the Music Library – DAAP does not work with iTunes 7
  • Added a Desktop Clock widget, under Desktop Settings > Show Desktop Clock
  • Added the WriterTools extension for new Internet menu enabling online dictionary lookup, translation and map.
  • New reset center, a more flexible alternative to the Reset to Defaults command
  • In developer edition, new packages: wireshark, eix, zsh, and new ebuilds: GoogleEarth, VLC.
  • Experimental iPhone support (requires jailbreaking)
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Big wheels keep on turning: 5 Reasons not the fear a $200 Linux PC

January 24, 2008 has a good post on the emergence of ultra low cost, Linux based, PCs.

They say:

Linux is not just for computer whizzes.

In fact, buying Linux and learning how to use it are easier than ever, thanks to the open-source operating system’s expanding presence in affordable computers and mainstream retail outlets.

Really what we’re seeing is the emergence of Firefox as a platform/OS, rather than Linux. To be honest, the principle use of these machines is as low cost web devices.  The Zonbu suddenly has A LOT of company, and only a small number of things to set it apart.

Now if it had stellar video performance and Rhapsody support, they would have some bragging rights, but as it stands, the shelves are getting awfully crowded.  Which is unfortunate, I think Zonbu has a lot of subtle things going for it, but it is going to get lost in the crowd without some real innovative partnerships and applications.

More here:

-Mr. Zonbu

The 22-year-old behind gOS

January 21, 2008

My apologies, I’m quite busy at work and can’t post as frequently at the moment.  On the upside I’m neck deep in some very interesting IPTV stuff.

I did come across an interesting article on the 22-year-old behind the gOS distribution that is shipping on PCs at a competing price point with the Zonbu that I wanted to share: 

I’m also really looking forward to the next Zonbu release, which I understand from company comments in their forum is expected in mid-February.  Here is hoping that web cam support is finally working.

-Mr. Zonbu

S3 storage catches on, ZManda launches support for S3

January 14, 2008

Zonbu is really on to something organizing transparent online storage in partnership with the Amazon S3 storage cloud.  They aren’t the only ones doing it however.

While not nearly as slick as the transparent integration that the Zonbu OS offers, ZManda, a commercial service, is now offering corporate users the ability to backup to S3, in addition to tape and optical media.

Will it be much longer before someone does a tool for Ubuntu and other popular distributions that allows the end user to create folders and entire backups directly to S3 from the desktop?

You can read more over at

Or on the ZManda website:

-Mr. Zonbu

Gentoo project in disarray?

January 14, 2008

Gentoo LogoThis commentary from the latest Distrowatch Weekly Newsletter over at seems to suggest the Gentoo project remains mired in disarray:

Gentoo Linux made the headlines last week and once again it was for the wrong reasons. It appears that the Gentoo Foundation’s charter as a non-profit organisation was revoked several weeks ago, when it was discovered that all except two trustees had resigned or were unreachable: “There has not been any public explanation from the Foundation’s trustees as to why this was allowed to happen, or what steps are being taken, if any, to fix this. This is very bad for the morale of the Gentoo community.” The founder of Gentoo also offers a solution – his return as President of Gentoo Foundation: “If I return as President, I will preserve the not-for-profit aspect of Gentoo. Beyond this, you can expect everything to be very, very different than how things are today.” The response by the Gentoo community was mixed – some launched a petition supporting the return of Robbins as the project’s benevolent dictator, but others seem to be against the idea. Whatever your opinion, one thing is clear: a radical solution is needed to take Gentoo Linux out of the current quagmire. Failing that, the latest news item on the Gentoo Linux home page — announcing the October 15 weekly newsletter — could be the project’s very last news release.

Regular readers will we well aware that I think there is significant business risk in continuing with a Gentoo base for Zonbu, so I won’t add anything new here, other than to say it doesn’t look good for Gentoo.

Distrowatch Weekly Newsletter here:

-Mr. Zonbu