Hey Tony, I’d like you to meet a friend of “Ours”

August 20, 2007

Tony SopranoTechnology can be intimidating.

Too many choices and too many options mean that many average users are intimidated and discouraged when they try and buy a new piece of equipment; especially a new PC.

Talking to strangers

I’ve often found myself talking to complete strangers in Best Buy or CompUSA because they’re standing in the aisle, staring blankly at a shelf full of options, with no idea where to start.

Other times, a couple has three of four similar products in their hands, and they’re arguing about which one to buy with no clear idea what the differences are. Afterall, when you’re a couple, you can argue about anything.

In these situations I like to step in and offer my perspective, as someone of works with technology every day.

I’m what the marketers call a “technology influencer”.

You probably are too.

What do YOU think I should do?

We’re the people our friends and family turn to when they need to buy a new piece of equipment, or when they want to know if they should upgrade to Vista, or what printer they should buy.

We have a profound effect on the success or failure of new products like the Zonbu…

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CD/DVD Burner not appearing in Xfburn

August 18, 2007

I have had my machine on for a day or so and I decided to download the latest Damn Small Linux RC ISO and try it out on the Zonbu hardware.Xfburn doesn’t see the drive…

I connected the Zonbu external USB CD/DVD drive, and the blank CD icon appeared on the desktop.

I launched the CD/DVD burning application, selected the ISO source file and went to burn it when I noticed there was no “device” appearing in the target drop-down…

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Speed! 1G of RAM and a 512MB RAM Disk for the Zonbu?

August 18, 2007

RAM PhotoOne of the fastest performing PC’s I’ve ever used was a my vanilla desktop PC running Puppy Linux entirely from RAM.

The word “instantaneous” best describes the responsiveness of the system and the launching of applications.

Which got me thinking, why isn’t the Zonbu running with 1G of RAM, reserving 512MB of it for a high performance RAM disk? It would blow the doors off almost everything that crossed its path…

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Zonbu /proc/cpuinfo and other geeky stuff…

August 17, 2007

Via C7 ProcessorI’ve had some requests for the contents of /proc/cpuinfo as well as kernel info and a few other things.

You can find the results after the jump…

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Zonbu – the Via C7 Distro

August 17, 2007

Via LogoThe Zonbu needs to carve out a niche in the open source community.

While there are already a number of distributions focused on older/lower powered hardware, there is no distribution that has claimed the “Via C7 optimized” space.

The Zonbu, and many mini-itx form factor PCs, run an Intel-compatible processor from Via Technologies. This processor and the related chipset (providing sound, video, USB, networking etc), are not that well supported in the mainstream kernels and currently benefit from a number of patches and tweaks.

Patching the kernel is not something most people want to spend time on or have the technical chops to do.

I think Zonbu has a unique opportunity to position it’s OS stack as the optimal choice for anyone running on any flavor of the C7 hardware…

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Excellent Ubuntu & Linux Documentation Wiki

August 16, 2007

Ubuntu LogoI wandered across an interesting post in another blog on WordPress today.

I’ve talked a fair bit about how far desktop Linux has come, and how far it has yet to go, both in terms of operation and ease of use for new users.

For those that are dipping their toe in the water, or making the full dive in with a large scale distro like Ubuntu, I thought the following would be of interest…

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90% Zonbu, 10% Windows XP

August 15, 2007

XP LogoI realized I forgot to say something fairly important in my recent review of the Zonbu, chronicling my first two weeks with the device.

I really have been able to use the Zonbu to do 90% or more of my regular PC tasks. I’ve barely turned on my XP box in two weeks…

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Build a custom music server or buy a Zonbu?

August 15, 2007

Home Music ServerOver a http://www.linuxdevices.com they’ve got an exhaustive article on how to build the ultimate Linux home music server using a small Linux PC, not dissimilar to the Zonbu.

What really struck me, after reading pages and pages of the article, was one of the final conclusions.

This is the author of the article speaking, not me (my emphasis):

I started this whole project before discovering Real’s Rhapsody client for the N800. I believe that Rhapsody is the “killer app,” not only for the N800, but for all small web tablets. Mobile phones someday too, maybe. But I honestly don’t know if I would have bothered to build an elaborate NAS-based music system, had I had Rhapsody on the N800. Why even store your own music, really?

I’ve been preaching this for a while. Rhapsody is a killer app for the Zonbu…

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LinuxMCE videos show impressive UI experience

August 15, 2007

LinuxMCE ScreenshotThis isn’t a Zonbu specific post, but I just read an interesting article over at DesktopLinux.com and followed the link through to some videos of the LinuxMCE project.

What struck me was how innovative and interesting the UI is. I’m a long time MythTV user, and while I find some of the ideas a bit gimmicky, some make a lot of sense. I’ve got one of those “invasive” full screen UIs on my box. I actually like the Myth UI but seeing a different “take” on design is always interesting.

Perhaps the Zonbu could crib a few ideas from the media center interface, to make interactive with it even easier.

-Mr. Zonbu


My first two weeks with the Zonbu

August 15, 2007

Checklist ImageIt has been over two weeks now since I started playing with the Zonbu.

My first foray was under VMWare and then my actual hardware arrived.

I thought it might be a good time to get some summary thoughts and observations out, as much has happened during that time.  Consider this my mid-term review of the Zonbu.

Without further adieu, the good and the bad of Real Life with the Zonbu Mini-PC…

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