Author Topic: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?  (Read 6116 times)

Faceless King

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Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« on: November 06, 2007, 10:17:57 pm »
Hi guys, I was curious to whether or not I could run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu with a 500 gb external hard drive.  I then figured I'd add Zonbu's as clients throughout my house.
A Zonbu is basically a really small low power usage PC.  They cost $250.  It runs at 1.2 ghz, has 512 mbs of ram, and a 4gb compact flash drive. 

Part of the appeal to me is they are super low power usage, make 0 noise and seem to be perfect for this application.

www.zonbu.com

Let me know if this will work as I would like to find a good solution for my media center, and this seems better than the loud hunk of steel I have now.

Thanks,
Faceless King

Hagen

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2007, 10:26:09 pm »
Yes for some applications.
This has been asked before, do a search for Zonbu.
http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=2018.0
http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=2179.0
It has actually been asked on the Zonbu forums as well.
Do a search there for LMCE or linuxmce

But don't expect it to be able to play HD content. (720P is supposed to work on a similar setup)
The Core can not be a Zonbu however, for that the computing power in the small box isn't up to the task.
So drop the external HDD and just PXE boot the Zonbus as slaves. In that configuration you don't need to subscribe to Zonbu either.
And they will be much quieter.


Hagen

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2007, 10:28:14 pm »
And put that noisy hunk of steel you have now as core in another room or closet.

Faceless King

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2007, 10:32:44 pm »
I see, sorry, for some reason I thought I searched here first.  I know I searched at Zonbu and got nothing, though thinking back, when I searched, I searched for Media Center as I found out about this after making the thread.

If anything, I'll take a different PC and make it the Core, presuming I can get all this figured out.
What kind of power would I need for a Core for around 3 rooms?  I have a 1.5 ghz VIA sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing right now, that would be quieter than what I have as well, and nicer looking.

Hagen

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2007, 10:42:12 pm »
I started with a 1.7GHz PIV 768MB RAM as core and it was quite ok.
Could support three MDs simultaneously, but I didn't have any TV cards in it, and I didn't play anything above 720P.
For music CDs, MP3, DVDs and DivX it was just great, but it could be a bit sluggish whit all the MDs running at once, for some reason playing the same media on all of them was hardest for my setup.
The problem I did end up wit was that the HDD in the core was only 20GB and after I had PXE booted and installed 10 MDs it was full.
I have all the media stored on another file server, so I didn't think I needed all that space.

Basicly what you do whit the PXE boot is you use the cores HDD as the HDD for the PXE machines, and with ten installs I started filling up the core  :D

I have a 3GHz PIV 2GB RAM I plan to use as core when 0710 comes out.

But if you do have a spare computer nothing could be better. Try it on that one, if it's ok for you then fine, if you feel it's slow then you have still picked up some experience for the "real deal"  ;)

Faceless King

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2007, 11:33:59 pm »
Ok thanks.  There will probably be a 320 gb inside my Core pc.  But I don't have any HD content, mostly a lot of TV Shows and Cartoons ripped at 480p, though I may start getting some at 720p instead, but that would mostly only be played on the Core.  What I am probably looking at would be a Core in the living room, a pc in the kitchen, and one in the bedroom, the kids would just go to the bedroom (My room has an adjustable bed, so yeah, they like it) to watch stuff if they didn't want to watch what I was watching.

Forgive the fact that I am not the best with Linux, I have a little bit of experience with Ubuntu, but not very much.

So what is PXE?  An MD is a PC that plays media, but is not the core, correct?

Actually here are to approximate specs of my core if I use my VIA.
1.5 ghz, 512 ram (Though I suppose I could buy a 1 gig stick), onboard video and sound, and either a TV tuner or a better video card.

tschak909

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2007, 12:01:41 am »
PXE is Intel-Speak for Preboot-eXecution-Environment...or, network booting for Intel x86 based PCs. the Zonbu's can do this, and the necessary software to make it work is preinstalled with every LinuxMCE installation.

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Zaerc

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2007, 12:46:33 am »
I've just ordered one, couldn't help myself as they are to cute.  International shipping was a bit expensive, it should arrive within 2 weeks.  I'm looking forward to putting it in the wiki.

Looks very feasable: http://zonbu.com/doc/doku.php?id=other_distributions
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Faceless King

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2007, 06:00:43 am »
Awesome, let me know how it goes.  If it goes well, I'll probably order one or two with my tax return.

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 04:54:12 pm »
Hi guys, I was curious to whether or not I could run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu with a 500 gb external hard drive.  I then figured I'd add Zonbu's as clients throughout my house.
A Zonbu is basically a really small low power usage PC.  They cost $250.  It runs at 1.2 ghz, has 512 mbs of ram, and a 4gb compact flash drive. 

Part of the appeal to me is they are super low power usage, make 0 noise and seem to be perfect for this application.

www.zonbu.com

Let me know if this will work as I would like to find a good solution for my media center, and this seems better than the loud hunk of steel I have now.

Thanks,
Faceless King

Well we are testing very similar hardware ie Via C7 processor with a CX700 graphics chip here and under UI1 they perform fantastically well with great video performance once you add the Via Unichrome Pro drivers. So I am sure that the Zonbu will perform equally well. The only limitation i can see is that it only had a VGA port and it does not have in-built IR... but that is a small negative and for the price they look good.
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Faceless King

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2007, 08:51:31 pm »
Hmm, a VIA C7 you say, that is what I was thinking about using in my Core.
Also, that means that it should run well on the cheap Everex PC's that Wal-Mart is now carrying (I think they are exclusive)
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=7754614

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2007, 09:33:13 pm »
Hmm, a VIA C7 you say, that is what I was thinking about using in my Core.
Also, that means that it should run well on the cheap Everex PC's that Wal-Mart is now carrying (I think they are exclusive)
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=7754614

I personally would not recommend using a C7 processor in a Core. They top out at 1.5Ghz currently and so really do not have the 'grunt' needed if you intend to have pxe booted MD's or do even moderate amounts of media streaming - believe me we have tested this to death. The Via processor is best scaled from a energy/processing perspective for MD's... where low energy, low noice fanless operation and small compact size - with excellent video performance are exactly what you need.
Andy Herron,
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tschak909

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2007, 09:40:07 pm »
yup, i second that, do NOT skimp on your core! (or your network interconnects for that matter!)

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2007, 01:48:03 am »
Well we are testing very similar hardware ie Via C7 processor with a CX700 graphics chip here and under UI1 they perform fantastically well with great video performance once you add the Via Unichrome Pro drivers. So I am sure that the Zonbu will perform equally well. The only limitation i can see is that it only had a VGA port and it does not have in-built IR... but that is a small negative and for the price they look good.

I guess I'm buying into VIA afterall. ;) It seems to come with the "special" (unichrome pro II?) VIA drivers installed in its own OS, so UI2 might even be an option as well.  But I guess I shouldn't get my hopes up to high.
Quote
To fix the problem, copy the following two files from the Zonbu OS to the same location in Archlinux:
/usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/via_drv.so
/etc/X11/xorg.conf
http://zonbu.com/doc/doku.php?id=other_distributions

Somebody asked me in private how much shipping was, and just in case anyone else wonders: http://www.zonbu.com/doc/doku.php?id=faq:pre-sale but there was a cheaper option which will take a few days longer, and I'm not in that much of a hurry.  To be exact, from the invoice:
Code: [Select]
Products ordered
SKU Product Item price Quantity Total
SKU24 International plug adapter - Western Europe $2.99    1 $2.99 
SKU1 Zonbu Desktop 1 $249.00    1 $249.00 
Subtotal:  $251.99   
Shipping cost:  $35.00   
Total:  $286.99

There seem to be some more or less interesting expansion options as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zonbu
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Faceless King

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Re: Could I run LinuxMCE on a Zonbu?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2007, 07:24:05 am »
I had an interesting thought today while at work.  A friend of mine is giving me an old laptop.  Not sure of it's condition, I know it's keyboard is bad, no biggy, I'll plug one in, so is the battery.  But, I am thinking about stripping it from it's case, buying a shadowbox picture frame and inserting the whole thing into the picture frame, then setting it up with LinuxMCE as one of my MP's, this one would go in the kitchen, where a small slim appearance is good.  Under normal circumstances it'd appear like a plain Digital Picture Frame.

I figure these may make good MP solutions as they should be easy to come by and you'll not have to pay too much for them.  They need to be only remotely new, I'd say around 4 years would net you a 1ghz with 256 ram, which can be doubled cheaply to 512.