Half the puzzle? Does Zonbu have the software right and the hardware wrong?

PuzzleThis has really been bothering me for the last month or so: I think Zonbu may well have one of the nicest, easiest to use, most consistently integrated and user friendly Linux desktops available.

I don’t say that lightly, as I’ve used it extensively for the past four months as my home Internet machine and I’ve now moved my wife on to the platform.

But I have strong lingering concerns that the Via CPU and graphics chipset that Zonbu is currently shipping as their hardware platform is going to be rapidly eclipsed by better performing, better marketed hardware running other, less impressive, Linux distributions.

Hardware is a commodity business – let the experts do their stuff…

Don’t like Intel? AMD has this whole “integrated platform” story they are pushing. Get one of their boards, maybe a 690G for example. Let them help you tell the hardware story. Or ape the Asus platform and use a bigger screen – co-opt the ASUS boys, they seem to know what they’re doing in the Linux space and they have great credibility in the hardware space.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there is a difference between being right and doing the right thing.

Zonbu has never really been a hardware company and I think its time it takes a serious look at the three year viability of the existing hardware (especially in light of every increasing web video and web 2.0 demands) and ask whether its time to sample some other platforms.

I think the Zonbu OS stack, the automatic updates, the online storage, the whole soft model is great and could really mark a new day for affordable computing. They are executing really well on that part of the business.

I would hate to see that opportunity lost to hardware choices that don’t live up to the business models potential.

-Mr. Zonbu


4 Responses to Half the puzzle? Does Zonbu have the software right and the hardware wrong?

  1. Paul Dyer says:

    I agree. I’ve used Linux almost exclusively since 1996 (mostly Debian) and the Zonbu software stack is great (excepting the WiFi which has to be setup again after every reboot) I’ve had my Zonbu for about 10 weeks now. I upgraded the cf card to a 8gb so that more of my music and pictures would be cached locally and that helped but the processor is just too slow. Simply loading this web page the processor is running at 100% of capacity for several seconds. Flash video will never work acceptably with this processor. I have an old Dell Precision with a 550MHz Pentium II, running Ubuntu that is considerably faster.

  2. mrzonbu says:


    I agree, the ASUS unit, with a lower rated 900Mhz Intel processor and Intel integrated graphics feels like it is out performing both my Zonbu desktop and laptop. I need to do some more scientific testing but flash performance definitely is smoother.

    I also find that Ubuntu on my $450 off-the-shelf Acer with a 1.8Ghz Sempron and an ATI 1100 chipset performs very nicely.

    -Mr. Zonbu

  3. whootowl says:

    Well, Mr. Zonbu, you’ve convinced me. Prompted by your reports, I’ve hammered the video/Flash playing capability of the Zonbu Mini in my evaluation. The performance is no where near acceptable. The Zonbu Mini, with its Via chipset and drivers, does not cut it for everyday web browsing.

  4. Chris Kruger says:

    It’s a pity it doesn’t seem even lower powered. The fact that this needs a fan already makes me think it’s not low power enough, coupled with the fact that it’s not a very powerful processor makes me disappointed. I was always a supporter of Cyrix and now VIA, as well as S3 but I wish VIA would push this a little more. It seems like they’ve hardly progressed for years.

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