Although you may not yet find preinstalled Linux too easily at your neighborhood computer superstore, our beloved OS is bubbling up in more scintillating ways, including in the recently released Zonbu PC. Zonbu is a mini, fanless Gentoo Linux-driven PC that, with its on-line storage (sans hard drive!), functions with a “computing as a service” ethos. In addition, Zonbu is one of the few PCs that markets its green “street cred”, aiming to provide us concerned citizens with a means to reduce our energy consumption and thus our impact on the environment.
Company: Zonbu, www.zonbu.com.
Bandwidth requirement: 64KB/s minimum, 256KB/s or faster recommended.
Physical dimensions (height x width x depth): 6.75" x 4.75" x 2.25" (17.1cm x 12.1cm x 5.7cm).
Processor: 1.2GHz Via C7.
Graphics card: Integrated Via C7.
Flash memory: RiData 150x 4GB CompactFlash card included.
Hard drive: none (storage is on-line).
Memory: no HD, only a 4GB CompactFlash card, which contains the OS and applications.
Optical drive: none included; optional CD-RW/DVD drive available for $49.
Ports: six USB, VGA out, speaker, mic.
Networking: built-in 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi available via optional USB adapter for $29.95.
Subscription options: $249 per month + optional month-to-month subscription fee ($12.95–$19.95) depending on on-line storage space. $150 discount on machine with prepaid two-year subscription, and $50 discount with a one-year plan.
Zonbu plugs itself as a “compact, totally silent, ultra-low-power mini with all of the bells and whistles”. Although true to a degree, the Zonbu arrives on your doorstep in a compact box with simply the machine and a power cord. You'll have to purchase, or more likely scrounge for, the requisite monitor, keyboard and mouse. Zonbu also lacks the monstrous hard drive to which we've accustomed ourselves in PCs these days. Instead, the machine includes a 4GB CompactFlash card containing the Gentoo Linux OS and a local cache (around 3GB) for a limited number of files. The bulk of your files likely will reside on your on-line storage space.
Here is where the “computing as a service” ethos comes in. Yes, you could purchase a Zonbu outright for $249 and go your own way, simply taking advantage of Zonbu's free upgrade service and storing your files on a Flash drive. What Zonbu would rather you do is pay for the convenience of its subscription service, which includes secure on-line storage space of varying sizes, secure backup, 30 days live support and e-mail support thereafter, and transparent upgrades of the OS and installed applications. You can pay full price and subscribe on a month-to-month basis, or if you prepay for a subscription, Zonbu will kick in a discount of $150 for two years or $50 for one year.
At the time of this writing, you can subscribe to a plan with 25GB of storage for $12.95 per month, 50GB for $14.95 or 100GB for $19.95.
The on-line storage system is nice, as Zonbu transparently manages the interplay between the 3GB local cache and the larger storage space. You also can go on-line anytime from any computer with a browser and access your files.
So, let's take a look at what we've got here with Zonbu. Consider that you're getting a machine loaded with a 1.2GHz low-power Via C7 processor and 512MB of RAM, but no hard drive, mouse, monitor or keyboard. Let's also say you purchase the 50GB of storage/service plan for two years, as well as the optional Wi-Fi dongle and CD-RW/DVD drive, all of which will set you back around $500. Then, consider that you will have to renew your subscriptions after those two years, or else drag all of your files down onto your own storage device.
From another angle, consider Zonbu's conveniences, such as its diminutive and quiet presence and letting someone else worry about backup, security and updating tasks. In addition, if you're bouncing around the globe, think of how nice it would be to log on from any computer in the world and access all of your files. As always, the trade-off is time or money. Personally, I would pay for this convenience when getting less geeky friends or family running Linux and minimizing their support requests to me.
Don't forget that Zonbu is a power-miser, consuming roughly 10–15 Watts, depending on the load, which compares well with laptops. Most PCs of similar robustness (without monitor) will gulp 60–100 Watts or more, depending on numerous factors. Zonbu's marketing folks say you'll save more than 1,200 kilowatt hours over the course of a year, which seems generous given their assumption that a typical PC averages 175 Watts, but let's be conservative and assume a savings of half that amount—that is, 600 kilowatt hours. I currently pay $0.07 per kilowatt hour, which would save me $42 over the course of a year.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide