Zonbu’s Firefox kicks butt against Ubuntu Firefox

October 21, 2007

Just a quick observation: It’s easy to dismiss how much subtle tweaking and optimization is present in the Zonbu Firefox config. The layout, the icon sizes, the fonts being hand picked to make web pages look as “normal” as possible for someone coming from the Windows world… the colours, the extra plug-ins. Everything.

Go ahead and try and use Ubuntu Firefox for a few days and you’ll find yourself constantly interupted by requests to download and install add-ons, codecs, plug-ins or other piece of software. Over and over again. Ditto for Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows…

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Should Zonbu ditch the VIA processor/graphics for Intel?

October 21, 2007

Intel LogoThe more I dig in to the Zonbu the more I like it. However, the more I use it, the more I run in to the frustrating wall of the relatively weak performance of the Via processor and the lack of quality drivers and acceleration for the Via CX700 graphics chip under Linux.

Don’t get me wrong, for most day-to-day stuff, it performs acceptably well, but (for example) if you start visiting any PC gaming sites that make heavy user of flash and embedded video, expect stuttering and 100% CPU load.

I’m starting to wonder if Zonbu may not have the right idea about the over-all end-user experience, but that the Via based hardware isn’t the right way to deliver that experience…

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Flash Video Performance

October 21, 2007

I played with Ubuntu 7.10 for awhile today and found myself longing for the “everything just works” experience of the Zonbu, so I put the Sandisk CF card back in and booted back in to Zonbu land.

One of the sites I wanted to test on the Zonbu OS stack was the embedded videos from 05.07.07 at http://www.needforspeed.com, in particular the video about vehicle dynamics research and the work done with Porsche in Germany.  You can find it here: http://www.ea.com/prostreet/media.jsp?locale=us

The video stuttered under Ubuntu so I was curious to see if I had the same problem under the Zonbu OS which has a more optimized video driver.  No such like, it stuttered in the exact same way and made it unenjoyable to watch.

If the Zonbu is going to become more mainstream then they need to make flash video (and all video) playback performance their #1 priority.  The web is rapidly becoming all about embedded video for corporate, personal and recreational sites and right now the Zonbu strugles to keep up with playback in this arena.  Some of this blame is probably to be lumped upon the lack of efficiency in the Linux flash code, but the end user isn’t interested in WHY it doesn’t work well, they just want it to work.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbuntu: Gutsy install update

October 21, 2007

Just a quick update. I installed Ubuntu 7.10 from CD yesterday.

I used the Zonbu supplied external USB CD drive and a Transcend 8GB flash card, putting my Sandisk card with the Zonbu OS on the shelf for safe keeping. It took quite a while to complete the install due primarily to the relatively low speed of the CD drive (24x).

Other than a problem with strange behaviour around my USB/Keyboard when running from the LiveCD, the system installed smoothly. I accepted all the defaults, setting only the timezone.

To my great pleasure, when I rebooted and loaded the full install direct from the flash card, all the drivers worked out of the box (except video which defaulted to VESA mode). The sound worked properly (although I did have to drop to the console and use alsaconf to turn up the master volume as it was far too low), the NIC worked and even more impressively the Belkin WiFi dongle worked out of the box. The only thing I had to do was enter my encryption key…

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