Open Thinkering


Zonbu: the linux-based school computer of the future?


Zonbu is an emission-free linux-based computer which looks like it could be perfect for schools. It’s local storage is a mere 4GB CompactFlash card, but it’s main storage is via Amazon S3 – meaning between 25-100GB held remotely. As schools have always-on broadband connections with increasingly large bandwidths, this is a feasible solutions for most institutions.


With a two-year service plan, the Zonbu is $99. The service plans According to the website, the Zonbu features:

  • Silent operation
  • Power consumption equivalent to around a third of a lightbulb
  • 6 USB ports
  • 512MB RAM
  • Built-in ethernet
  • 20 applications pre-installed and continually backed-up
  • Automatic upgrades to the OS, applications and drivers
  • Automatic remote backups
  • A choice of storage, between 25Gb and 100GB
  • Access to your files from anywhere (via Amazon S3)
  • Free same-day replacement Zonbu if it fails within the first 3 years
  • A recycling programme to dispose of the Zonbu at the end of its life

Specs and more pictures are available here. I’ve asked for a review unit to be sent to me – we’ll see what happens…


5 thoughts on “Zonbu: the linux-based school computer of the future?

  1. Well yes, but there's always workarounds. Each student could have a smaller account and the 100GB could be for a class/year group/cohort.

    It's the idea that's important here, the connectedness to the outside world. :-)

    1. I'm trying to get a unit to bring to NECC to demonstrate in our Open Source Pavilion. I'm very interested in how educators would view a student account that could travel with the student to home and through each grade level. I also see some interesting (long-term) ideas for a plug-and-play device that is actually maintained via the Internet and didn't require local tech administration.

  2. I’m intrigued. I couldn’t tell from the website, but it appeared to me that you don’t have user-independent logins on each unit–making them much less functional than they could be for schools…

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