I had bought a Zonbu mini-pC and had barely used it until recently. I have started over, and decided to install a Debian lenny distro over it.

The installation went quite well, but requires the use of a bootable USB key Debian installer (see reference here and here). I had to use the syslinux of testing or it wouldn't work. The BIOS had to be configured appropriately : "Hit Delete on boot to enter BIOS. Enable Port 64/60 Emulation and disable BIOS EHCI Hand-Off in the USB configuration menu to boot from a USB hard drive."

Warning : this article is a work in progress : I noted various bits elsewhere and need to complete the reference info (URLs), and other missing bits. But still, I hope it's useful.

Once installed, several things need to be tweaked to get it fully operational :

  • Wifi : I have the version with a mini-PCI internal wifi card, which is uses VT6655 Via chipset. There are several possibilities to use it with GNU/Linux, although all are using proprietary software :
    • using the Via windows driver over ndiswrapper : the windows driver, over ndiswrapper, seems to work fine, even with WPA2. Note that there is an archive with an auto-extractor for Linux providing drivers pre-compiled for various distributions in the Viaarena download section under the Linux category... but it's rather old. I preferred to install the recent ndiswrapper provided in Debian lenny, and download the most recent Windows XP driver from viaarena (on a side note, to extract it I had to use wine, to get access to the @@C:\windows\vnDrvBas@@ that it tries to extract).
    • compiling a Linux driver provided by Via : the (proprietary) driver (version '' - 08 August 2008'') compiles nicely for Lenny for 2.6.25-2-486 but I experienced a really SLOW connection with my FreeBox over WPA2, when I tried it... so will prefer the other solution :(
  • Video driver for X : the embedded video card from Via works with default generic vesa X driver, but I installed the openchrome X-server video driver available in lenny, and it works fine. Note that you need to configure an additional option to use software pointer (SWCursor true option in xorg.conf).
  • RNG : Using the embedded Random Number Generator (RNG). The CPU provides the padlock RNG, so I suppose it's better to use it by loading the kernel module padlock (in /etc/modules) (see reference here)
  • CPU frequency scaling : one of the advantages of such a mini-pC is the green orientation : using less power, etc. As the processor supports frequency changes, why not use it (although it is discussed if it has an impact on power saving, heat dissipation, etc.) ? There is a e_powersaver cpufreq module for the Linux kernel (again in /etc/modules) which makes it work with powernowd for instance (see reference here).


  • Sensors : TBD

Note also that I found out that the hardware I bought from Zonbu actually seems to be a MSTI eBox 4854 system.