Via to open source its drivers – finally

April 13, 2008

Via Technologies LogoHello everyone,

It’s been a while. I have been extremely busy designing, building and launching a full IPTV service. Now that the service has launched I can take a bit of a breather and perhaps post a few updates here. Lots has happened in the world of Zonbu in the past four months.

The most significant development by far is that Via has announced that they intend to embrace the open source community and finally start releasing driver source and details so the drivers for their embedded platforms can be improved.

The following details are excerpted from this article at LinuxDevices.com: http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS9457876583.html

Via Technologies, although very popular with Linux ultramobile PC vendors, has never been very open about its own hardware. Until April 8, when, at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in Austin, Texas, the company announced that it will start opening up its chipsets to the open source community.

During the We’re Shipping Linux on PCs — Now What? panel, held at the University of Texas Super Computing Center, Timothy Chen of Via Technologies, said, “Via hadn’t been doing much [in opening up] — it’s been hard for the company to embrace open source, but at the end of the month you’ll see us opening up.”

This announcement drew a round of applause from the audience of Linux executives, leaders and core developers. Driver support for Linux distributions, a nagging problem, can be greatly eased by chip and component vendors opening up their hardware specifications and information.

In concrete terms, Via will kick things off by launching its Via Linux Web site by the end of month. On this site, users will find drivers, technical documentation, source code and information for the Via CN700, CX700/M, CN896 and the new Via VX800 chipsets. As time goes by, Via will add forums and support for more of its chipsets.

Hopefully this will help unlock the potential of the existing Zonbu hardware platform.

-Mr. Zonbu

Advertisements

Zonbu OS Releases 7.1176

February 4, 2008

Zonbu posted a new release yesterday, the details below. A lot of things I was hoping to see haven’t emerged yet. I’m downloading it now, I’ll share some thoughts in a bit.

Certainly, in what is now a crowded space, I would have expected webcam support to be a top priority…

Version 7.1176 – released 2007-02-03

New features

  • Added the capability to share files on a local network with the Neighborhood (Samba)
  • Added the Amazon MP3 Store to the Music Library
  • Added music sharing to the Music Library – DAAP does not work with iTunes 7
  • Added a Desktop Clock widget, under Desktop Settings > Show Desktop Clock
  • Added the WriterTools extension for OpenOffice.org: new Internet menu enabling online dictionary lookup, translation and map.
  • New reset center, a more flexible alternative to the Reset to Defaults command
  • In developer edition, new packages: wireshark, eix, zsh, and new ebuilds: GoogleEarth, VLC.
  • Experimental iPhone support (requires jailbreaking)
  • Read the rest of this entry »


Gentoo project in disarray?

January 14, 2008

Gentoo LogoThis commentary from the latest Distrowatch Weekly Newsletter over at Distrowatch.com seems to suggest the Gentoo project remains mired in disarray:

Gentoo Linux made the headlines last week and once again it was for the wrong reasons. It appears that the Gentoo Foundation’s charter as a non-profit organisation was revoked several weeks ago, when it was discovered that all except two trustees had resigned or were unreachable: “There has not been any public explanation from the Foundation’s trustees as to why this was allowed to happen, or what steps are being taken, if any, to fix this. This is very bad for the morale of the Gentoo community.” The founder of Gentoo also offers a solution – his return as President of Gentoo Foundation: “If I return as President, I will preserve the not-for-profit aspect of Gentoo. Beyond this, you can expect everything to be very, very different than how things are today.” The response by the Gentoo community was mixed – some launched a petition supporting the return of Robbins as the project’s benevolent dictator, but others seem to be against the idea. Whatever your opinion, one thing is clear: a radical solution is needed to take Gentoo Linux out of the current quagmire. Failing that, the latest news item on the Gentoo Linux home page — announcing the October 15 weekly newsletter — could be the project’s very last news release.

Regular readers will we well aware that I think there is significant business risk in continuing with a Gentoo base for Zonbu, so I won’t add anything new here, other than to say it doesn’t look good for Gentoo.

Distrowatch Weekly Newsletter here: http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20080114

-Mr. Zonbu


EEE Officially Skype 2.0 with webcam support, works great

January 7, 2008

Video Conf ImageThis weekend I decided to do a package update on my EEE PC. I’ve resisted adding non-official repositories and generally doing geeky things to it as I wanted to compare the typical end user experience with that of the Zonbu.

To date, I’ve been a bit underwhelmed with the lack of updates. Firefox is still 2.0.0.7 and various other apps are older as well. The update function in the “basic” interface is a bit confusing and didn’t seem to be working consistently for me, but I soldiered on.

Read the rest of this entry »


Beauty: ZonbuOS not meeting basic photo management needs

January 4, 2008

The beauty is not happy tonight.  Which means Mr. Zonbu isn’t happy.Canon SD800

After putting the baby to bed, the Beauty sat down to deal with some of the dozens of recent photos on our digital camera.

She plugged in her SD card reader to the USB slot and waited.

She heard a brief sound but no wizard popped up. She waited a minute or two then said to me that it wasn’t working.

I asked her why she thought that and she said she didn’t get any wizard to help her import the photos…

Read the rest of this entry »


The Beauty experiences some Zonbook printing issues

January 3, 2008

HP LaserJet 1012All is not quite right in our tropical island lair.

Last evening the Beauty told me she couldn’t print and hadn’t been able to for a few days. She said it just didn’t work.

This struck me as odd as neither the printer nor the Zonbu configuration have changed. I took a look and in the printers tab, the printer was paused. I’m not sure how that would have happened. I unpaused it, patted myself on the back and tried to print. Nothing.

I went back and looked at the panel again. Printer paused. I unpaused it. Printed. Paused again. Definitely a bug. Lots of paper and ink the in HP LaserJet. Reset the printer, reseated the paper etc etc.

In the end I had to uninstall and reinstall the driver (not that it is hard, but annoying and weird). Once I reinstalled it, it has been fine. I have no idea what went wrong.

Has anyone else seen this?

-Mr. Zonbu


The Zonbu Desktop just feels right…

January 1, 2008

Zonbu logoI’m using my Zonbu desktop again this morning, after a stint using the EEE PC around the house. The odd screen size on the EEE PC and the chiclet keyboard become an issue for anything more than a few minutes of use (at least for me). However, the <30s boot time is very appealing. The Zonbu could benefit from an SSD disk for the OS.

The Zonbu OS experience is still the smoothest, easiest to use, most “complete” feeling Linux desktop experience I’ve had. It just feels “right”. It’s a shame there isn’t a LiveCD so people can try it before signing up for the subscription. I think this could go a long way to opening up new markets.

It’s hard to quantify exactly what I mean, but they really have done an exceptional job putting the OS together. I have a few small gripes about rough edges, but overall it is an exceptional software product.  And knowing some one else is actively taking care of things “under the hood” and ensuring application updates are pushed out on a regular basis is lovely.  So is knowing my data is backed up somewhere in the Internet cloud.

The Zonbu team should be very proud of their achivements in this regard.

Now if the hardware was just more modern…

-Mr. Zonbu

PS -Happy new year to all our readers.  Since inception we’ve now had almost 70K page views.