Zonbu power consumption on an AMD Duron 1.1 GHz machine?

July 29, 2007

[This item was updated on Monday, July 30, to reflect a problem with the measurements. Measurements are now correct for the Duron power consumption (91W) ]

Well this is curious. I’ve got the Zonbu desktop running on one of the old test machines I have laying around. I put 512Mb of RAM in it and it has a 1.1Ghz processor, only mildly slower than the 1.2 GHz in the actual Zonbu box.

I am running from a 40GB hard disk and there is an optical drive in the machine, as well as a dedicated video card and an extra expansion card I’m not using at the moment. I mention all this because I’ve got my Kill-a-watt connected to measure the power consumption. With all that hardware, I’m only using a steady 91W while I surf the web and write this. I’ve got Skype running as well. [I’m going to pull the expansion card later and re-test to see if we save anything.]

So while is not the 15W the Zonbu claims, its surprisingly little power draw given all the equipment. If I ran from flash, used on-board video and took out the expansion and video cards, I have a feeling I could shave another 5-8W off my total. Whereas my “regular” desktop PC was sucking back 140-160w performing similar tasks.

It’s all got me thinking, are we using “SUV-like” PC’s? Sucking huge amounts of power all day long when 80% of the time we hardly need any at all to accomplish our normal tasks? It sure does look that way…

Desktop performance is very smooth.

I continue to be impressed. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the actual hardware.

-Mr. Zonbu


A developer/contributor/test LiveCD/LiveDVD for Zonbu is needed

July 29, 2007

After a few days of attempting to get a test system running on hardware and virtual machine setups that I have access to, I’m come to the inescapable conclusion that a LiveCD/LiveDVD (with full driver support) of the Zonbu desktop is sorely needed.

To really kick things off and tap the momentum and enthusiasm for the product/service, it needs to be dead simple for people to dabble in it. Amazingly, as great as the desktop experience is once you get it working, it was pure classic Linux pain to get there without the hardware. Of course, this is why you would buy the box from Zonbu. However, you don’t want to shut out the curious on the way to their purchase.

I’m not surprised about how hard it has been, I talked about this in an earlier post when I said I thought Gentoo was going to create barriers in this area. So far its proven to be true. Hopefully the Zonbu team will fill this hole quickly so the tools are easier to access. It’s all about letting the community contribute in this we 2.0 world…

-Mr. Zonbu

Why I need a Zonbu…

July 28, 2007

So I spent most of the day wrestling with the installation of the necessary development environment so I could recompile the kernel. Then I spent a few hours playing with kernel options in order to get my network card to work.

Once I got that working I started in on getting my on-board sound to work.

As I’m fighting my way through all this it occurs to me – THIS – this continual futzing around, is exactly what I don’t want to spend my time doing. And this is exactly the problem the Zonbu box itself solves.

The Zonbu support staff do all the magic to make the box and the programs work properly, all you or I have to do is show up.

No installing/configuring/compiling/tweaking/tuning necessary.

Show up and it works.

That’s magic worth paying for.

-Mr. Zonbu

How now, brown cow?

July 28, 2007

A brief update.

I’m still working on getting my 1.1 Ghz Duron desktop working. It is going to involve recompiling the kernel to add the drivers for some of my hardware. Zonbu REALLY need to do a nice fat LiveDVD with all the drivers and developer tools ready to go for those of us who want to play.

None of this has anything to do with the actual Zonbu box, of course, but I do need to do this in order to be able to run the OS while I await delivery of my unit. Oddly, I had an email this afternoon basically confirming my order from over a week ago. Not sure what happened there… Are others receiving their units already?

On the upside, the Zonbu desktop has played every single piece of media I’ve thrown at it. Quicktime movie trailers, BBC Top Gear Real Player clips, mpeg, avi, 3gp, you name it. Very impressive and exactly what you need to be able to give this to a non-tech savvy family member. Moreover, an impressive feat for Linux, I’ve never had everything work out of the box before. They are definitely moving the bar.

A close friend of mine got a long demo from me today and he agreed it would be perfect for his mother, who is also overseas, making Windows support complex. Worse, she has some of her friends call him too, which is even more complicated support.

More to come, I hope to have my stand alone, roughly similar spec machine operating tonight and I will start blogging in more detail.

-Mr. Zonbu

Friday night with the Zonbu…

July 27, 2007

Well kids, I remain impressed.

I have installed the virtual machine at home, where I have the graphics horsepower to run it full screen at 1280×1024 so I don’t even see my XP desktop underneath. After a few more hours of exploring, I’m still very very impressed. I’m taking notes and I’ll post in more detail, but I have to admit that the bulk of my comments so far fall in to the “fine polish” category and I’m sure they can be addressed relatively easily by the software team.

Overall, I haven’t hit it with anything I’d need to do on a typical quiet Friday night at home that it can’t handle. I’m enjoying Rhapsody Online in my headphones while I write this and I have my Messenger contacts open as well. The system has pretty much done everything as promised so far, with the caveat that I’m still running in a virtual machine within my normal desktop. I even ssh’d in to a server at work to check on something. No problems at all.

-Mr. Zonbu

P.S. The Zonbu team needs to find a way to work with VMWare to make sure the optimization toolkit for video and mouse performance can be installed via the VMWare host, so people can have a smoother experience. Mouse performance in particular is sketchy under Zonbu on VMWare. By the way, why don’t they have a proper pre-built VMWare image ready to go to save us the hassle?

My first few hours with the Zonbu desktop…

July 27, 2007

Well I’ve been wandering around in my Zonbu virtual machine for a few hours now.

A few impression. It all workings surprisingly well. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve tried so far – webmail, download attachments, listen to Rhapsody, open images, watch video clips on youtube, look at flash based statistics, load my Nasdaq java based stock tracker. Everything.

At the moment the machine has access to a 2Ghz core on my AMD laptop. This weekend I’ll be running it on a Duron 1.1Ghz machine with 512Mb of real RAM, a very similar spec to the Zonbu box itself. There have been a few performance pauses (like oddly drop outs when Adobe Acrobat starts), but I think that might be the VMWare host as much as the Zonbu OS.

This is very encouraging.

-Mr. Zonbu

P.S. If I get a chance I’ll post some instructions on all the steps necessary to make it work, their website isn’t all that clear.

Zonbu finally shipping retail units

July 27, 2007

Various commenters and other sources have told me they recently received notice that their Zonbu unit has shipped.

So far the reports are they are coming via USPS. Interesting choice, but certainly cost effective. I wonder if they are providing tracking information to the buyers?

I’ll let you know when I get my update.

In the mean time, look for some coverage over the weekend on hands-on experience with the applications. I’ve been playing with the Zonbu OS under a virtual machine this afternoon and have had some positive results and a few ugly surprises so far. More to come…

-Mr. Zonbu

PS – Isn’t that funny, I totally forget to mention I’m writing this from inside my virtual Zonbu system. That’s got to be a good sign.

Is the timing right for the Zonbu?

July 27, 2007

Many companies have tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce thin client/internet terminal appliances in the past.

I’m not going to run through the litany of names, but they include huge companies and small start-ups.

They all failed.

I believe the world has changed and that Zonbu is launching at an ideal time…

Read the rest of this entry »

A Zonbu for 1/4 of your monthly broadband bill?

July 26, 2007

As I’ve wandered around the web and read the different comments people have made about the Zonbu, one of the more popular themes that has emerged is “Subscription fees suck! I’d buy one of these but I’m not payin’ no stinkin’ fee”.

As someone who has over twelve years in the ISP/IT/broadband space, I find this to be a very strange comment.

No one seems to have an issue with paying $40+/month for their broadband access. Or even more than that for their cell phone plan…

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Webcams, IM, Zonbu, Grandma and YouTube

July 26, 2007

Logitech WebcamThe Zonbu claims to be able to replace your desktop PC for most (if not all) of your day-to-day Internet tasks.

I realized the other day that when I wrote What do we really use our PCs for? that I forgot one really important task: video conferencing with IM contacts.

In our house, this principally means video calling with Grandma who happens to live about 4000 miles away. Being the caretakers of her first and only grandchild, webcam activity is fairly common in our house.

So, what does the Zonbu offer in the area of instant messaging and video support?

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