Saturday, December 05, 2009

About The "Improved Z2 Shell?" (IZ2S)

The Improved Z2 Shell (IZ2S) is an expansion upon the Z2 Shell that Zipit Wireless released for general experimentation.

I built IZ2S out of necessity because the hardware was perfect for what I needed, and the stock OS had some limitations. I started by building add-ons, but some of them were a bit complicated and so it turned into full standing releases. There are lots of reasons to use the IZ2S, but here are a few highlights ...

  • IZ2S loads from an SD card just by having it inserted, as this is how the folks at Zipit Wireless intended you to use their shell. You do *NOT* need to flash anything, hook up and special hardware, or perform any activities that might otherwise :brick: your Z2. You can return to the stock OS at any time simply by ejecting the SD card and rebooting.
  • IZ2S contains most of the features that you find in the stock OS, but improves upon them (such as a much better keyboard driver and the ability to pick your own radio stations).
  • IZ2S is very lean. It boots in 4 seconds and running multiple applications at once is perfectly fine. You can effectively chat on IRC in one window, instant message your buddies in another, and be listening to your favorite streaming radio station in a third window (thanks to the magic of 'screen').
  • IZ2S offers applications that are not available for the stock OS, such as a graphical web browser (links2).
  • Ray is building and releasing new applications all the time, and installing them can be done on the device itself - or by copying files onto your SD card from within MS Windows.

  • IZ2S is "text based" meaning that everything happens from a terminal console. If that is not your cup of tea, you might consider installing Debian or OpenEmbedded. Keep in mind though - that those installations have their own kernels which will require that you remove the stock OS.
  • IZ2S has an instant messenger, but it will not offer you cellular texting. For that, you need to return to the stock OS so that you can be connected to your paid Zipit Wireless account.
  • IZ2S does not yet have any controls over the display brightness/contrast, or the keyboard lights. We are hoping to have these features included soon thanks to the work of the Z2 community.
  • IZ2S has an "idle screen sleeper" that looks like a bricked device. This seems to be the result of the kernel trying to put a display to sleep, and the display driver doesn't respond correctly. It's a problem that we inherited from the Z2 Shell from Zipit Wireless, and we haven't been able to fix it yet.

You can download the Improved Z2 Shell by following links from this very site. This site is actually a great big Blog, and I always tag IZ2S releases with the tag "IZ2S". Therefore, you can always find the latest release with this link: The newest/latest release should always be the first thing that shows up.


  1. Hello, and thank you for doing this work.
    I am having a problem obtaining an IP address using your image.
    If I boot the ZipIt with its factory image, I can successfully connect to my home network.

    When I boot with IZ2S v2.04, it will list the available wireless networks, and when I enter my home network ID and my WEP key, it displays "obtaining an ip address" and then hangs. Nothing else happens. Could you give me some pointers on how to fix this?


  2. Also, if I make ask, what distro is your image based on?


  3. Hello Craig,

    I have been getting several reports lately about IZ2S not working with WEP. At first I figured it was something to do with the scripted process that we are using. But now I am thinking that the wpa_supplicant component may need to be rebuilt.

    You may wish to try the latest "BETA" that I have up. You can download it here:

    The distro that I use is actually what comes shipped on your zipit. That is, I have just taken the Z2 Shell that Zipit Wireless released and added to it. That means you are still running the "stock" kernel 2.6.21-1 kernel. In fact - you are using the same wpa_supplicant that the stock Z2 App uses (it pulls it from a mounted file system).

    I hope you don't mind my asking - any reason you are still using WEP? I figured everybody was on WPA these days ... unless perhaps you have an old access point that doesn't support it?

  4. Bonjour,
    Like most of the people here, my wifi is protected with WEP long passphrase plus MAC adress association. The 2.05 script returns me an error of too long passphrase. My working now WPA_supplicant.conf is:

    You must enter the hexa passphrase with numbers and low case letters. Hope it can help.

  5. Hello folks! If you are having trouble entering your "long hex keys" please see this recent post ...


  6. hey man first id like to say thanks for all the work. im having a similar problem as craig with the system hanging while its obtaining an IP address but im trying to just connect to an open network. ive tried versions 2.03 and .04 with sd cards formatted FAT and FAT32 with the same results. stock software connects fine. curious if this is something youre familiar/may be able to help me with. thanks again

  7. as an update, the beta doesnt seem to have the same issue for me

  8. New to the Zipit and after reading the autoflash script thought their had to be an option that does require such a bloated OS. Exactly what I was looking for.


    Downloading now.