Installing XP on the Zonbu

February 13, 2009

I would highly recommend you keep your original CF card around so you can try out the Zonbu update, but I’ve had a number of people ask about how to install XP on a new CF card.

Some people have suggested different sizes/speeds matter. I had no problem using a 133x 8GB card. I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 4GB.

Partition and format the card for FAT32 in a desktop PC using a card reader. Plug a USB CDROM in to the front of the unit and follow the prompts.

Originally I tried to use an XP install a friend loaned me, and it didn’t work. It wasn’t an official release. I used my official XP disc and it worked just fine, just a heads up.

So just make sure the (new) card is formatted for FAT32 and has one partition and then boot from the CD and you should be fine. I warn you now, its very slow. It is NOT a replacement for the Zonbu as a usable desktop, but you can use the Zonbu hardware as an appliance. A friend of mine is using his just to update his public IP so he can access his NAS when he travels. You’ll also need to hunt around for windows XP drivers for your sound and video. I can post later on where I found those if you’re interested.

If you want to surf the web and continute to do the things you enjoy on the Zonbu, you need the Zonbu OS, no questions.

-Mr. Zonbu


Zonbu Update – New OS Release in March

February 5, 2009

Gregoire of Zonbu recently posted an update to the Zonbu support site at

They are lowering the price to $10/month, waving cancellation fees and hoping to get out an OS update some time in March which will include FireFox 3 (finally).

Without quesiton, they are struggling.  The market has changed dramatically since they launched and we started tracking them.  There are now dozens of low cost/low power netbooks.  Linux and Windows XP are popular OS choices and the economy has contracted substantially.

On the positive side, the unit I put in our lobby for public use has given us not a single day of issue in almost an entire year.  Previously we had to re-do the windows box about every 90 days for various reasons, so it clearly makes a good kiosk for basic web browsing.  However, the low CPU power and poor video playback limits the viability for anything serious.  I have long said a board based on the AMD 780G with the strong built in graphics would completley change the game for Zonbu (although up the power consumption).  We’ll see if there is a new hardware generation coming.

Personally, I’m hanging on to my subscription because I want to see how they do. If the new release is as solid as the current one, it will be a welcome improvement and very usable. At the same time, I had to admit I have installed XP on a seperate compact flash card and I’m playing around with other uses for my quiet and low power hardware, in case the Zonbu thing doesn’t play out.

Here is the full update from the Zonbu site…

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Mr. Zonbu is alive

June 18, 2008

Hello everyone,

I’m still here.  Life took a detour while my daughter was born.  That tends to keep one away from blogging.

As soon as I went off the radar for a month or two Zonbu ran out and changed their business strategy, or at least course corrected it.  Which I happen to think is a good thing, and I’ll be writing about that in another post.  I am worried about how long it took and developments in the broader linux market, like Ubuntu 8.04 shipping (which is very nice BTW).

Also, Mrs. Zonbu ended her three month affair with her Zonbu laptop and ended up with a new $500 Acer running Vista.  I’ll be going in to more details later, but it was a wide combination of things, most of them Linux rather than Zonbu specific.

I have noticed traffice is also way down on the Zonbu support forums.  Is this a sign?

-Mr. Zonbu

Gimp 2.4 final will be out soon, when will Zonbu update?

October 19, 2007

The Zonbu team sent me two extra units (in addition to the one I bought) to use around the office. One has proven to be a robust kiosk PC in our office lobby. We have a few thousand people a month come through to pay bills, report faults or sign up for new service. Many stop and use the web and the system has performed admirably in this role.

We are not using “Kiosk mode”, instead choosing to leave it “as is” for now. We haven’t had any nefarious problems yet.

The other unit I gave to our online editor. A Macbook user, and non-techie, I basically dropped it on her desk, booted it up and showed her how to login then walked away. She’s been using it for weeks to edit images with Gimp, surf the web with Firefox, and do other basic office functions with the included application stack. She’s had virtually no problems, save for a small bug with open folders in the file manager not closing properly. I’m quite impressed, to be honest.

Next up is connecting to shares in the office on our Windows based server, which I will report back on, as well as trying our some printer support.

One thing that did come up is the lack of fonts configured in Gimp, which I’ve raised before, as well as the fact that a new version of Gimp is iminent. It will be interesting to see how fast the final release of Gimp 2.4 gets pushed out to the Zonbu populace.

You can read more about Gimp 2.4 here:

-Mr. Zonbu

Former Linspire CEO switches to Ubuntu; talks momentum

October 19, 2007

Some time ago I wrote about the importance of momentum in relation to the choice of the Linux distribution the Zonbu runs on. You can read my article here:

I was interested to read this morning the former Linspire CEO, Kevin Carmony, has switched all of his home machines to Ubuntu as his distribution of choice. What did he have to say about this?

In another note, Carmony added, “My main reason for deciding upon Ubuntu is I think it has the most momentum and greatest chance of succeeding. There will be continued consolidation as desktop Linux moves into the mainstream, and my money is on Ubuntu to be a central and key player there.”

With the release yesterday of Ubuntu7.10, the momentum continues to build.  Brand matters and could help propoel the Zonbu forward.  I’m excited to see how 7.10 runs on the Zonbu hardware.

You can read the full piece over at

-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…

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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…

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Podcast on the KoolU, a Zonbu competitor

September 7, 2007

KoolU LogoReader Gregg has shared another suggestion for Mr. Zonbu’s readers:

For anyone that’s interested, here is a long audio interview with Zonbu’s competitor Koolu CEO Andrew Greig. It’s episode# 208

I have to confess that I have not tried various other systems, and the KoolU does intrigue me, especially their OS choice.

Has anyone out there played with one yet?

-Mr. Zonbu

Zonbu might want to send a unit to the lead developer of PuppyLinux

September 6, 2007

PuppyLinux LogoJust a suggestion, but it may be well worth Zonbu’s time to send a free unit or two (with Australian power adapters, if available) to Barry Kauler, the lead developer of PuppyLinux.

I have a feeling this could be an excellent test platform for his work, and he continues to aggressively put out new releases with great innovation and very tiny resource requirements…

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FireFTP Firefox plugin makes FTP a snap

September 3, 2007

FireFTP LogoI was cruising through the support forums over at the Zonbu website when I noticed a post about a handy plug-in for Firefox that provides excellent FTP (file transfer protocol) support from within the browser.

If you have occasion to upload or download a lot of files via FTP (for example, to your own website), this may be just the ticket for FTP on your Zonbu (or any other PC for that matter).

It’s called FireFTP and you can find it here:

-Mr. Zonbu