Category Archives: Linux

Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on Zbox Nano

My mother wanted a cost effective replacement for her laptop, so I started searching around, and I came across the Zotac Zobox Nano VD01-U. So I ordered it, a 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of ram. For the OS, my mother wanted Ubuntu, since I converted her about a year ago, and she loves it. The final selling point of the Zbox Nano, was that there were drivers provided my Zotac for Ubuntu. Being a linux user for many years, with experience with Fedora (Core), Ubuntu, Mint, OpenSuse, Debian, Arch, and many others, I thought the install should be a snap.

Once I received the Zbox Nano, I immediately installed the HHD and RAM, inserted the live USB install disk, and fired the box up. It immediately recognized that that there was no OS on the HHD and I was displayed with a “Insert Install Media” message. I quickly learned that the USB 3.0 hubs don’t work until an OS is installed. I moved the USB thumb drive over to the UBS 2.0 port and restarted, this time the Zbox automatically booted from the USB drive and I was on my way!

After stating the instillation, I was greeted by a black screen. I was able to switch to another terminal via [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [F1] and shutdown. After doing some research, it turns out that the issue is with the graphics card. After searching the internet, I didn’t find any one “Successful” installs. I even contacted Zotac support, but they gave me this answer:

Unfortunately ZOTAC does not support the operating systems outside of Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

I just about gave up all hope when I un-ziped the drivers from Zotac, and discovered Installation.txt. After reading this file, I quickly found the following excerpt

1. During the installation load, press SHIFT go to the installation menu.
2. Select Language
3. Select Install Ubuntu
4. Press F6, press ESC.
5. You could see a message at the bottom, then type “xforcevesa“.
6. Press to install Ubuntu.
7. After Ubuntu installation complete, copy the follow compressed files to a folder under user home. These files must be decompressed under Ubuntu.

Using this information, I was able to complete the install of Ubuntu 11.10 and install all the drivers. Currently the only issue I have had been able to get the HDMI sound working.

First impressions: The Zbox boots quickly in Ubuntu (but what doesn’t), but some operations seem sluggish (However I am used to my T510 with the Intel Core i5 & 8GB of ram), and the unit seems to freeze temporarily randomly. My biggest concern though is the readability of the screen, I can’t seem to get it to display crisp clean text; while screen shots are clear as a bell ( on my computer). If I can’t fix the sound, or the visual clarity, I’m afraid this nifty little computer is not going to meet my needs.