installing Debian on Zonbu mini desktop ...

... it's trivial!

Me and godog have bought a Zonbu Mini Desktop to replace our previous noisy caseful server. The supposed duties of such a server are just running some P2P clients and a slimserver for a Squeezebox (so yes, the Zonbu will also need to proxy a very big USB disk).

I've discovered the Zonbu mini thanks to a blog post by caesar, and I'm quite happy about the hardware. It's absolutely noiseless, small, eye catching. Though I don't need particular performances, the only aspect that worried my was the I/O on the CF card, which apparently is a non-concern. The only missing bit in the hardware is a video output (only VGA is provided), a must if you want to use the Zonbu as a multimedia station. But this kind of usage wasn't on my plans, so ...

FWIW, before buying the Zonbu I've also tried to evaluate the cost of building something similar by myself, but the only cost of the mother board almost dominates the final price of the Zonbu. So apparently it's a good device also price-wise.

I haven't even tried the on-board Gentoo-derived installation. Well, in fact I had, but considering that the only monitor I've at home is a B/W 15 years old CRT, my chances to see something vanished at the precise moment the frame buffer started, of course they did not get any better when X started. The minute after that, I've fired up D-I.

Debian Installer vs Zonbu mini

Installing Debian on the Zonbu mini is actually trivial:

  • go for the USB memory stick installation method. The only USB port supporting boot from memory stick is the front one, apparently I was lucky since it is the first one I've tried

  • according to another post by caesar at kernel greater than 2.6.22 is needed, so go for the unstable [daily built D-I] (architecture is i386) and install at least Lenny on the target system

  • go take a beer, wait a bit, ... your Debian-powered Zonbu Mini Desktop will then be ready

/me happy about the new geeky gadget

Sad note: according to godog's tests, the provided wifi (which is optional to buy) works either with ndiswrapper or with a binary kernel module built against Fedora kernel, that sucks.