A dock or launcher for the Zonbu?

July 31, 2007

The Zonbu uses the “Start Menu” model that we have all become accustomed to.

It’s what MS Widnows uses, it’s what KDE uses and it’s sort of “the way things are typically done” in OS interfaces at the moment.

Mac OSX has not only a start menu equivalent, but also a very nice “dock” or “launcher” that floats at the bottom of the screen, is animated and actually populates dynamically based on your most recently used applications.

Mac OSX Leopard Dock

The first time I saw it, as a windows user, I was a bit envious. Can the Zonbu offer something similar…

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Dual core desktop with 17″ LCD for $399

July 31, 2007

Dell AMD SystemI just noticed this over on dealnews.com: a Dell AMD dual core desktop with a 17″ LCD for $399.

This got me thinking more about the Zonbu e-commerce/sales experience and some areas I think it needs to be improved to be successful. I’m going to talk about that in more detail in a later post, possibly today or tomorrow.

In the mean time, my evil mind had me thinking “Gee, you could probably buy that system, keep the screen, mouse and keyboard, and sell the tower for about what you paid and then grab a Zonbu and subscription.

Of course, that begs the question, why do I need to hunt around for a keyboard, mouse and monitor in the first place?

Shouldn’t Zonbu offer a complete buying experience via their website?

-Mr. Zonbu

Firefox is out…

July 31, 2007

Get Firefox I just got back to my desk to discover my Windows Firefox had updated itself to

Another opportunity for the Zonbu team to spring in to action. Since the Linux version doesn’t auto-update itself, it will be interesting to see how quickly Zonbu rolls out this security patch to its users.

This is the kind of high value service that makes the monthly subscription fee worthwhile for average users.

-Mr. Zonbu

Another Zonbu screenshot – Firefox, Video, Rhapsody

July 30, 2007

Due to popular demand, here is another screenshot of me working on my Zonbu desktop.

You can see what the Rhapsody service looks like in Firefox. I’m playing an album, the IM client is running and I played a little sample video clip at the same time, just to make the screen shot interesting for you.

Everything “just works” for the most part. It’s been two days now and I continue to have northing but praise for what the company has achieved, across the board.

The kinds of things I’ve been riding them about here in the blog things that will help get them from 90% to 100% of my ideal, not any material failings on their part. If I find any of those, I’ll tell you about them to.

Right now though, I have to say – give the Zonbu a try if you’re curious at all. You won’t be disappointed, it is exactly what it claims to be.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu desktop showing Rhapsody and video playback

PS – A note about Rhapsody and CPU load, it looks like Rhapsody uses around 20-24% of the CPU load, according to the system tray applet. A sacrifice I will gladly make. The Zonbu team have definitely done a lot of tuning to make the system run so smoothly, while doing so much on such modest hardware. My kind of people.

Firefox strangeness…

July 30, 2007

I’ve noticed something that may be a bug. If it’s not a bug it is a material difference from how Firefox on windows handles the privacy options.

I like Firefox to dump my cache, browsing history, passwords etc. when I shut down. Its a performance , as well as, a privacy thing. On windows, I have it set so that when I close Firefox it prompts me to confirm that it should clear these items.

I set the same option on Firefox on the Zonbu, but I’ve noticed something. It seems to prompt me to clear those items when I -start- Firefox, which is odd and not what I want or what I’ve seen before. It’s also largely useless from a privacy perspective.

The first time I noticed it I thought it might have been because FF crashed previously. But I just rebooted the box, and started FF and it prompted me. I closed FF after a while and restarted it normally and it prompted me again. Definitely something funny going on there.

Is anyone else seeing this happen?

-Mr. Zonbu

A note on Zonbu and VMWare

July 30, 2007

Originally I was going to post some detailed instructions on how to get the Zonbu Free Edition going under VMWare. I was also going to do docs on how to install it on a dedicated PC (although this involves kernel recompilation).

Instead, I’ve decided to leave that to the Zonbu team, but I will say the current documentation is far too sparse. It’s only fair to say here I think the Zonbu website is generally excellent as far as information goes (as well as layout and visual appeal). However, the developer/community part of it is still quite sparse.

It would be much easier if they just made a virtual machine available for download and playback with VMPlayer. Just a thought, while they decide what direction to take on a potential LiveCD.

There seems to be a lot of interest out there in the Linux community to try out the Zonbu software stack, it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to sell the story because there isn’t a super-easy way to try it without buying the hardware.

Of course you could always try it vicariously by continuing to read my blog…

-Mr. Zonbu

Partner and bundling strategies for Zonbu – Part 1

July 30, 2007

Can the Zonbu succeed without some strong partners? Partners who can bundle the Zonbu in with the other key components necessary to make it viable for the end user?

I don’t think they can, but I do think they have a lot to offer a number of groups.

Let’s take a look at one of the options…

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Irony – I can’t play a Zonbu promo video on my Zonbu?!

July 30, 2007

[EDIT – 16:40 Eastern, July 30, 2007 – Looks like the video has been removed. I suspect they’ll link it back in once they figure out the problem. Since I had the same problem on windows I’m sure its either the server that is hosting it or something missing in the Firefox configuration. What a great test of Zonbu’s response time, I’d say they are listening so let’s see what happens.]

I was looking at the reviews page of the Zonbu website this morning, as their intrepid marketing people keep slipping more stuff in to the middle of the page instead of posting it at the top or bottom so you have to pay attention.

While there, I noticed they had posted a new video of their CEO talking about the Zonbu. The video is in French but my comprehension isn’t terrible so I thought I’d take a look…

Lo and behold, after clicking on the video I was told I needed a plug-in to play it. I tried the FF “install plug-in” option and it failed. I think I saw that it as an .m4v file. This would be the first video clip I haven’t been able to play. Heck I spent a half an hour watching quicktime video trailers at apple.com last night.

Now I realize the offending video appears to be hosted on someone’s blog and they are just linking to it, but it is kind of ironic I can’t play a promo video about their product, from their product – n’est pas?

-Mr. Zonbu

PS- Come to think of it, doesn’t that seem to suggest that their web master isn’t checking the website functionality on a Zonbu? Not to be a jerk, but I’m thinking they should drink their own kool-aid.

PPS – I just tried it on my Vista laptop at work, and the video doesn’t play either, nor can FF find a plug-in. But then again, HP isn’t linking to the video on their website…

A screenshot of my Zonbu desktop

July 29, 2007

I thought it might be time for some eye-candy.

Here is a screenshot of my Zonbu desktop (taken with the handy screenshot tool they included).

I’ve got the IM client running, connected to MSN Messneger, Skype, Rhapsody playing via the web (is there any woman with a more beautiful voice right now than Colbie Caillat?) as well as Firefox with about six tabs open.

I’m running 1280×1024, and I’ve downsized my fonts and panel as well as added the mixer control to my taskbar.

The wallpaper is one of the stock photos that come with the Zonbu, and I think you’ll agree, it’s a beautiful option.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu Desktop 1 - AMD Duron 1.1GHz test system

PS – What is with the “drag and drop” functionality resulting in “copy” instead of “move”? That’s confusing, coming from windows, and is going to result in extra copies of files all over the place. Shouldn’t a file I drag and drop on a folder, move in to that folder?

The Zonbu desktop experience gets an A, but some more polish won’t hurt.

July 29, 2007

Let me preface this entry by giving credit where credit is due:

The Zonbu desktop experience is exceptional out of the box. Over the last three years I’ve tried literally hundreds of different attempts at Linux desktops for “average” users. While some are very good, none are as tightly integrated and smoothly functioning, especially out of the box, as the Zonbu desktop experience.

In it’s current state (and I’m using a developer build that I downloaded) I would give it an A.

A detailed review, screenshots and other observations will be forthcoming once the actual hardware arrives.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked on and contributed to the project, it’s no small feat. There is more than can be done however…

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