gOS is a problem for Zonbu, but not because gOS is good right now…

November 4, 2007

gOS logoI only have time for a brief update, but I did spend an hour or so last night playing with the gOS that is shipping on the $189 Ever machines available at Walmart and other places.

It represents a major problem for Zonbu. And not because its good right now, it’s not ready for prime time. Virtually every edge of it is rough and I would say it is six to twelve months behind where the Zonbu OS stack is (although it does have a few “eye candy” things that make it look polished at first glance).

Because the low cost desktop Linux space is at a critical inflection point, if the gOS team (who have secured the holy grail of retail distribution with Walmart et al.) don’t execute well, they could give the entire market space a back eye.

While I can’t comment on the Everex hardware (other than to say I’d enjoy more processing power in the Zonbu, and the Everex is higher spec), the software just isn’t ready for “regular” end users. Especially not in the way the Zonbu OS is. This means that a lot of people could rapidly get turned off after spending a few hundred dollars to bring a PC in to their daily lives – leaving them with a negative impression that Linux isn’t ready for the desktop of that its too hard to use/too unstable/not intuitive etc. Not good…

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Test drive the Everex gOS

November 3, 2007

gOS logoI have to admit I have more than a passing curiosity about the Everex gOS product.

I’ve been saying for months that Zonbu should do a LiveCD so people can see what the Zonbu OS is all about, and how nice it is before they buy. Sadly, no LiveCD yet. You can, however, try a LiveDVD of the gOS product which is also optimized to run on Via C7 based machines.

You can get all the details and the ISO download for gOS over at the Think gOS site: http://www.thinkgos.com/

I’m downloading it now, I’ll post my findings here this weekend. A few things I noticed already and like:

  • Ubuntu (Debian) Based
  • A dock/launcher a la MacOS
  • If you want, you an unlock and install apps on your own

-Mr. Zonbu

DL: Everex ships $199 PC with splashly Linux

November 1, 2007

gOS ScreenshotWow. Now this IS interesting and a very viable competitor to the Zonbu, at least in terms of price and features. Desktoplinux.com is reporting that Everex is shipping a new $199 PC pre-loaded with a customer (Google inspired) version of Ubuntu 7.10 called gOS.

Everex is following Dell, which pioneered the broad release of Linux-powered desktops and laptops to the consumer market in the United States. Since Dell’s first moves, other PC vendors such as Lenovo and HP have explored broader Linux PC releases.

The Everex Green gPC TC2502 includes popular applications from Google, Mozilla, Skype and OpenOffice.org. It runs gOS Initial G, which in turn is based on Ubuntu Linux 7.10 The gOS operating system features a simple and intuitive Linux Enlightenment E17 desktop interface with a Google-centric theme. The system comes with a lifetime of free updates and revisions.

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LD: Review of the Asus 3eee PC – Note the processor

November 1, 2007

LinuxDevices.com has a piece reviewing the new Assu 3eee PC that we’ve talked about before. Interesting to note the specs, in particular the processor. I wonder how it cames to the Zonbu hardware in real performance, and if the Zonbo OS stack will be ported to run of the Asus unit. It could make a nice Zonbu laptop…

From the article:

Standard features include a 900MHz Intel Celeron processor, 512MB RAM, and a 4GB solid-state hard drive, expandable via an SD card slot. I/O interfaces include built-in 802.11b/g WiFi, three USB ports, a VGA port for external displays, and wired Ethernet and modem jacks. There are also headphone and mic jacks.

You can read the full article here: http://linuxdevices.com/news/NS2584729146.html

PS – Is anyone going to be surprised if I point out it runs a Debian derivative?

-Mr. Zonbu

Linspire review – running on a Koobox affordable PC

October 29, 2007

Koobox MiniDesktoplinux.com is carrying an interesting review today of the Freespire 2.0 release of Linux.

The tester installed in on some low-end PC hardware from Koobox which is based on a mobile Pentium chip (lower power, lower heat) and also uses an Intel 915 graphics chip (if it used a newer chipset like the 945 it would mean things like Compiz should work on it and the video challenges Zonbu has been wrestling with won’t be present). In fact, the MiniKoobox looks like Zonbu’s big brother, with a built in DVD drive and a faster processor (but less memory): http://koobox.com/minikoobox.php

It’s a great review and it goes to show that there are many roads that will lead to the same place – affordable desktop linux running on low power devices…

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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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Zonbu and Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon”

October 16, 2007

Ubuntu Login ScreenWell the big news this week is that the official 7.10 release of Ubuntu Linux should be out Thursday, so, some time this weekend I’ll atempt to load it on a spare CF card and try running it on the Zonbu.

I believe the audio drivers will likely be included for the chipset in the Zonbu (they weren’t in previous releases) and I’m curious to see what level of driver for the Via video chipset is included (if any).

I’ll keep you posted here on my results, although I do have to say, the Zonbu desktop is getting pretty polished. Sure I can’t load other software (although I’ve had no need to), but it has performed very consistently as a day-today “web top” or “web terminal”, making the Ubuntu experiment somewhat academic.

Even so, the itch to see how the latest Ubuntu performs is too much. My original forecast, from about two years ago, was that Christmas/New Years, 2007/2008 would be the critical inflection point for desktop Linux. If I’m right, we should see a groundswell behind the current crop of releases. And if 7.10 runs reasonably well on the Zonbu out of the box, well, that could change everything…

These are interesting days.

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu needs Rhapsody – TiVo just got it…

October 9, 2007

Rhapsody LogoI’ve written extensively about the power of the Rhapsody service to help drive adoption of the Zonbu.

In fact, I forecast that the availability to Rhapsody on the Zonbu would be enough to justify its purchase for any serious music fan. Everything else it can do would just be gravy. The Zonbu as the ideal media playback device in the living room? Some users are already deploying it for that…

Apparently I’m not the only one who sees value in the Rhapsody service. TiVo recently announced that it will make music streamed from Rhapsody available on its users televisions via their TiVo video recorders. Which reminds me, isn’t the TiVo Linux based too?

TiVo and RealNetworks are set to announce an agreement on Tuesday that will allow TiVo subscribers to listen to songs from the Rhapsody digital music service on their televisions, the companies said.

You can read the full article here at News.com: http://www.news.com/TiVo%2C-RealNetworks-in-Rhapsody-music-deal/2100-1027_3-6212384.html?tag=nefd.top

And you can read my previous musings on the topic here, under the “Pure Rhapsody” section of this post: https://mrzonbu.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/the-zonbu-desktop-experience-gets-an-a-but-some-more-polish-wont-hurt/

-Mr. Zonbu

Desktop Linux use doubles; Ubuntu distribution of choice

August 27, 2007

DesktopLinux EditorThis is interesting info, although not surprising.

Note where Gentoo ranks relative to Ubuntu based distributions:

According to DesktopLinux.com’s just completed survey, the number of Desktop Linux users has more than doubled in the past year, and Ubuntu remains their Linux distribution of choice.

You can read the whole article here: http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8454912761.html

You may also be interested in observations on the recommendation patterns of tech savvy users, as discussed in my post here and the important of familiarity in expanding desktop Linux adoption.

Or you can read a telling excerpt after the jump…

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