A flash card to replace 1000 hard drives?

September 30, 2007

Today in the “holy crap” file we have a piece from Tom’s Hardware about a PCI based card that can store up to 640GB of data in flash and blow the doors off a massive storage array for size, performance, noise and power requirements.

We caught up with Fusion io’s CTO David Flynn at the Demofall 07 conference in San Diego. He explained that the ioDrive is a PCI Express card with a controller and NAND flash chips. This isn’t a controller for other drives, but rather a self-contained storage device that can be easily popped into an empty motherboard slot.

Flynn told us that the cards will start at 80 GB and will scale to 320 and 640 GB next year. By the end of 2008, Fusion io also hopes to roll out a 1.2 TB card. You can even put multiple cards into a computer for extra performance and fault tolerance.

While I haven’t yet had a chance to write about it, I’ve slowly been replacing traditional RAID based boxes at work with CF based machines.  Incidentally, my host platform runs Via C7 processors.  I started the project before I had heard of the Zonbu but you can see the overlap…

More details to follow.

You can understand I’m suitably intrigued by this new product. You can read the full article here: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/34065/135/

-Mr. Zonbu


Zonbu OS Release 6.889 – Major Improvements

September 29, 2007

Zonbu beta logoGreat news – a MAJOR new Zonbu OS release should be arriving any day now and I’ve been playing with an early preview. It’s full of lots of changes and improvements which I’ll be talking about in more detail in the coming days.

Until then, here is the summary from the Zonbu “releases” page:

Version 6.889 – released 2007-09-25

New features

  • FireFTP plugin in Firefox
  • Transmission, a lightweight bittorrent client
  • Lyrics plugin for Banshee
  • NTFS external hard-drives read/write support
  • Putty, a graphical ssh connection manager
  • Tomatoes, an arcade game
  • ODF documents converter (Microsoft Office 2007 format)
  • LDAP support in Evolution
  • New network connection assistant
  • Crash reporter

Read the rest of this entry »

CompactFlash (CF) Evaluated Lifespan – per Zonbu

September 23, 2007

Compact Flash CardOne of the common refrains about using CompactFlash as a hard disk replacement is that it has a limited number of “writes” (reads don’t impact lifespan). This is a major concern for a potential Zonbu owner. Is that card going to burn out in the next year or two?

I’ve done some Internet research, and while “don’t use it in a high frequency write environment as it will ‘burn out’ the card” is a common refrain, I could not find any hard statistics on the lifespan of modern cards. Thankfully, it looks like the Zonbu team has done some testing in this regard…

Read the rest of this entry »

Documentation Wiki

September 23, 2007

Well it looks like more of the community building has started, although it can only be edited by Zonbu employees at the moment, perhaps that will change in the future:

We’ve launched a new documentation wiki, located here. It consolidates all of the pre-existing support pages, and also contains answers to many frequently asked questions.

Currently, only Zonbu staff members can edit pages. If you notice any errors or glaring omissions, please let us know in the Documentation forum. Similarly, if there’s anything you would like to add, such as a how-to guide to modify the OS in a certain way, feel free to post it in the forum and we’ll add it to the wiki.

-Mr. Zonbu

A quick update on the Zonbu in the lobby…

September 23, 2007

Security GuardsA quick update on the Zonbu in the lobby of our office.

It hasn’t seen as much traffic as the desktop PC it replaced as I think some people are suspicious of it. However, I did notice something funny. I went out to check on it one day and there were three copies of the MSN messenger installer exe on the desktop. Clearly someone wanted to IM and didn’t realize it wasn’t windows.

That tells us two things… One, the box provides a consistent enough web experience for a random end user with no instructions that they identified it as the familiar Windows set-up. And two, they couldn’t identify or locate the IM client. While “Instant Messenger” is a logical name for it in the menus, I would point out that non-techies refer “AIM” “MSN or MSN Messenger” or “Yahoo Messenger”. The words “instant messenger” often aren’t included in that conversation, strangely enough. So the menu name might be tweaked a bit to be AIM/MSN/Yahoo Messenger.

On the upside, our security guard seems to use it to surf the web for about two hours a day without too many problems. On the other hand, thats not what we pay him for… I need to talk to him about that.

The wireless is generally working fine, although for some reason, even though it isn’t required, the setup SSID selector appears after boot/login. This is despite the fact that the system auto-associates with the local AP you last used. I think it shouldn’t appear unless I ask for it, but maybe I’m old fashioned. Seen and not heard?

Just an observation…

-Mr. Zonbu

Is the beta period about to end?

September 23, 2007

Zonbu Beta Logo

According to the Zonbu support site, the production version is almost ready and may be only (days?weeks?) away.

I have to be honest, and I don’t want to be negative about all the great work that the Zonbu team have done, but… based on my professional software development management experience and the current state of the major Linux distros, I have a feeling they’re jumping the gun.

I would have been happier to hear the end of October or early November was a target, in order to meet the Christmas buying season….

Read the rest of this entry »

News.com: Hawaiian firm shrinks solar thermal power

September 14, 2007

SopogyInteresting article on solar thermal power over at News.com this morning:

Perhaps it’s not surprising that balmy Hawaii is home to a company that’s pushing the envelope of solar thermal technology.

Start-up Sopogy, based in Honolulu, has taken the basic design of large solar thermal power plants and shrunk it down so it can fit on a building’s roof…”

There has got to be an OEM or partnership relationship for Zonbu in here somehwere.

You can find the full article here: http://www.news.com/Hawaiian+firm+shrinks+solar+thermal+power/2100-11392_3-6207877.html?tag=nefd.lede
-Mr. Zonbu

Lenovo considering offering Linux on laptops

September 11, 2007

Distrowatch Weekly LogoDistrowatch has an interesting editorial, discussing Lenovo offering Linux on laptops and what the (Lenovo) blog based web-survey on the topic has uncovered.

You will recall that I think Zonbu is squandering the Linux momentum Ubuntu has generated (and spent a lot of money to generate) in favor of using Gentoo. I think this is a sub-optimal business decision and I discussed it in this previous post.

While I disagree with the editorial conclusion that consistent support for one major Linux distro is not necessarily a good thing (of course it is, it will lead to higher quality and a more consistent experience for all Linux users), they do make some good points about the positioning and marketing of various distributions…

Read the rest of this entry »

Working with the Enemy: Zonbu, Walmart & Environmentalism

September 11, 2007

Adam Werbach in Fast CompanyThe other night at the gym I was reading Fast Company, one of the most dynamic business magazines out there

What? I go to the gym. Sheesh.

FC has a fascinating cover story on Adam Werbach.

I’d never heard of the guy, but he has a pretty interesting background in environmentalism and, astoundingly, is now working closely with Walmart on their sustainability and green efforts.

I was intrigued.

Could there be a more mainstream venue for the Zonbu than a green Walmart?

Could Walmart be a torch-bearer for sustainability?

Is this guy for real?

He is for real. He gets the business side of green, and he has a real shot at making a huge difference, working with Walmart. Which also means, this may be an ideal “in” for Zonbu to seek shelf space at Walmart…

Read the rest of this entry »

Another user comments on the Zonbu after a few weeks of use

September 10, 2007

More Zonbu users are starting to post their observations after sustained use.

I found a brief summary, after a few weeks use, from a user in the UK.

In particular he notes that while it meets his day to day web use needs, he is still struggling with basic HP printer support and has had little luck with other peripherals. He loves the green part and the peace and quiet.

You can read the full post here.

-Mr. Zonbu