openzipitThe Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger is a cheap (as in $50) instant messaging device that’s basically a single-purpose PDA designed to connect to WiFi networks and send instant messages over AOL, Microosft, and Yahoo’s instant messaging platforms.

It can also send messages to cellphones over SMS. The only catch is that you’ll need to sign up for a $10/month plan in order to use the Zipit… or at least in order to use it as intended.

If, on the other hand, you want to find a new use for this handheld device, you might be interested in running Linux, installing DOSbox, or maybe an NES emulator. The Zipit has a 300MHz XScale processor, 32MB of RAM, and a Mini-SD card slot for stroage. It has a 2.8 inch QVGA display and a 1000mAh Li-Ion battery. It connects to 802.11b/g WiFi networks. And if you follow a series of steps from hacker Hunter Davis, you can install a working Linux operating system with the Fluxbox window manager.

All in all, you end up with a pocketable device with a QWERTY keyboard, mouse emulator, and ability to run Linux applications including the open source MPlayer media player. For about $50.

You can check out a video of the Linux powered Zipit after the break.

via Hack A Day


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20 replies on “Turn a Zipit Wireless Messenger into a cheap, slow netbook by installing Linux”

  1. Holy Bee Geez. Since the article broke on Engadget and others, these stupid things are impossible to find now. I couldn’t buy one if I wanted it except maybe from the official site.

  2. Umm… It’s $49.99 with a one year service plan. I don’t see an option to buy it for $49.99 by itself. I suspect once you add that price in, the iPod Touch becomes a more reasonable alternative.

    1. Just did a click-through check on that at both on-line retailers – –
      The device purchase price is $49.99 – –

      The one year service plan is only required to activate its communications features;
      But you are going to replace the shipped kernel with an open alternative,
      so why “activate” it (the service plan that is)?
      The point of replacing the factory installed firmware build is (among other things)
      so that it can be used **without** the ZipIt service plan.

      1. Even their own on-line store is that way.

        I.E: They have it backwards – to achieve their intended aim of
        recurring revenue to support the sales price, they should get you
        to commit (money) towards the service plan **before** selling
        the device – but they don’t. Oops.

        1. I think they were originally $150 with no service plan, and I guess they weren’t selling as fast as the company wanted. So hide most of the cost and hope they move faster, I guess.

          1. I was looking at them when they were $150 ($50 for device $100 for a year of service) and said meh. Now they are just the $50, and it comes with a free year, then its $30 a year after that. The company itself actually supports the development of linux on the device. https://linux.zipitwireless.com

  3. Hmm… Very interesting, based on OpenEmbedded:
    https://sourceforge.net/projects/openzipit

    A person would need a Z2, a micro-SD card, and some Linux knowledge.
    For those without requirement #3 (Linux knowledge) –

    Anyone want to team up to provide these things with OpenZipIt pre-installed?
    Might even be able to get them listed at the “Brad Store”. Brad?

  4. For the price, this is really neat, although it looks like getting everything set up would take a lot of work. If I didn’t already have an iPod Touch, or if I had the slightest bit of Linux knowledge outside of my Eee, I would be very interested.

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