The Zipit Z2 is a great little hacking platform. There are lots of people putting out their own distributions and directions for customizing this platform. I’m going to attempt to make a list of all of the distributions and sources that I know of at the moment. If anyone knows of any other distros out there for the Z2, please feel free to comment. Here is the list in no particular order:
z2lite & z2sid – Wicknix was bored and put out z2lite. For more power, try the Debian-based z2sid in both a command line only and X11 version. These are the latest and greatest as of my most recent update. They require uboot which is dead simple nowadays. Mozzwald has links to the uboot version of z2sid on his site.
Wejp’s Z2 linux – Not sure I’m calling this by it’s proper name but this one is also one of the newer ones. I haven’t tried it out myself but I know several folks have. Click here to check out Wejp’s Linux.
Ubuntu – Mozzwald has recently rolled out a version of Ubuntu for the Zipit Z2. The most exciting featured of this distro for me is that it has gcc. It’s the only Debian-based distro with gcc working properly at the moment. Here is the link to Mozzwald’s Ubuntu distro. I have also provided my own installation instructions. I also started a Ubuntu for Z2 RC1 torrent to take a bit of pressure of Mozzwald’s server.
Root Nexus – Optk1k2600 is running this one-man community project. It is a very nice image that is a touch more polished than some of the others. For instance, the battery meter is somewhat stable on Root Nexus vs Side-Track in my experience. There is lots of customization that Optk1k2600 has done to tailor this distro nicely to the Zipit platform. Follow this link for more information on Root Nexus.
Side-Track – This distro was rolled out by none other than the Iron Geek, Adrian Crenshaw. This one is based on Root Nexus but is customized for pen-testing so it has a bunch of cool network analysis/cracking tools on it. Not all of them are tested and functioning. It’s not a perfect distro but it’s pretty good and probably my favorite at the moment. Click here for more information on Side-Track for the Zipit. Now if only we could get driftnet working… update 3/24/2011 – Irongeek has moved on to other projects and has not been keeping this updated. I have made side-track work with uboot though if anyone is interested in giving it a shot.
IZS2 – IZS2 is developed and maintained by Ray Dios Haque. This distribution does not require reflashing the boot loader or any other modification to the Zipit Z2. I have not tested this userland but it seems to be a very popular choice in the Zipit community. Follow this link for the IZS2 homepage.
EZ2S(IZS2 enhanced) – Russell Davis has been hard at work improving his latest Z2 shell. Russell’s distribution has the distinct advantage of not requiring the boot loader to be reflashed. Reflashing the boot loader makes a lot of people nervous since it’s possible to brick your system. Unfortunately, I have not had time to try EZ2S or IZS2 enhanced since I didn’t find out about them until after I had already reflashed my kernel. I know I can always go back but I’ve been too busy with Side-Track and Ubuntu to mess with it. IZS2e/EZ2S is a fork of IZS2 which was developed by Ray Dios Haque. You can read more about EZ2S on Russell Davis’ blog Executing Gummiworms. Russell also has developed some cool scripts and binaries that have improved things for Zipit Debian users.
Aliosa27 – Hunter Davis made a video showing the entire process of installing the Aliosa27 image onto your Zipit. I have not tried this one since it seems to be one of the older distros available. Installing the Aliosa27 image involves reflashing the bootloader so that step is similar to any of the other Debian-based userlands out there. Here is the link to Hunter’s video. QuantumLime also has a very nice and detailed page that features installation instructions for Aliosa27’s image.
Openembedded – Openembedded(for the Zipit at least) appears to me to be dead. Looking at Zipit Openembedded information page it sounds like the Zipit patches are out of sync with the mainline Openembedded code and probably mostly useless now. I’m including it here for historical purposes only. I have finally figured out how to build an Openembedded image for the Zipit. Openembedded is really powerful and allows you to pretty much roll your own distribution with whatever features you would like. Check out my guide Building Openembedded for the Zipit Z2 for more information. Please comment below if my assumption is inaccurate and I will update this post.
Emdebian Grip – This distribution is another “roll your own” variety like Openembedded. Douglas Henke has some excellent, detailed instructions on his blog about how to roll your own Emdebian Grip distro. As good as the instructions are, I haven’t tried it out yet myself so I can’t comment on how good or bad it is. Here is the main Emdebian Grip homepage.
Buildroot – Yet another roll your own root fs for the Z2. Buildroot is another alternative to Emdebian and Openembedded.
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