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Linux on a Sony VAIO VX71P Laptop



Specs

Mobile Pentium III LV 850MHz, 256MB, 30GB HDD (UDMA-5), DVD/CD-RW external FireWire S400, 14.1" TFT XGA (1024x768), WLAN, FireWire, USB, Modem, LAN.

Installation

I am trying to install Debian 3.0 Woody from CD, but with no success yet. For older Sony VAIO models these boot parameters helped, but they don't work with this model :

ide2=0x180,0x386

But the older models were either PCMCIA or USB based CD drives. The one that comes with this machine is a FireWire device. I had no time to build a bootable CD with FireWire support.

So I have used installation from a separate harddisk partition as described in the Linux-Mobile-Guide or in the Debian installation docs. Additionally I compiled a 2.4.19 Linux Kernel, PCMCIA-CS and Advanced Linux Sound Architecture - ALSA directly from source. The kernel has to be patched with the current versions of ACPI und FireWire (IEEE1394) to make a couple of things work.

The BIOS is capable to boot an image via network but I didn't try it. It might be possible to install Linux directly via network.

MS-WindowsXP Recovery

The pre-installed MS-WindowsXP didn't work well. So after installing Debian I have tried to recover MS-WindowsXP from the recovery CDs. Though the warning about formatting the whole hard disk, the recovery process only formatted drive C: (/dev/hda1) and left the existing Linux installation intact. Though I had to boot from the Debian/GNU Linux CD again and had to start lilo again.

BIOS

You may reach the Phoenix BIOS with F2. Maybe you can use the lphdisk tool to generate a hibernation partition, but I didn't try that yet. The BIOS is capable to boot an image via network but I didn't try it.

APM/ACPI

ACPI support is detected by the kernel and all modules load successfully, but I can't suspend the laptop correctly. Modes 0, 3 and 4 do not work at all and mode 5 puts the machine to sleep. Unfortunately, the machine does not wake up after that.
You can see the possible states for Speedstep in /proc without having the possibility to switch between them.
The thermal values seem to be sensible, as the temperature of the CPU rises when starting heavy applications or when compiling.

APM support also crashes the machine. But I'm working on it.

PCMCIA

You need the driver i82365 for the controller.

NIC (Ethernet)

The network interface works with the eepro100 kernel driver. Also the e100 driver from the e100-source package works.

NIC (WLAN)

This interface is a PCMCIA-CS device as cardctl ident reveals. It is a device called Lucent Technologies Wavelan/IEEE which runs fine with the orinoco_cs driver. Very Important: You have to apply the current ACPI-patch!
The integrated WLAN-chip can be turned on and off via a switch on the left side of the case. It seems that only the antenna is turned off, because Linux still recognises the device.

Sound (ALSA + OSS)

No problems here: snd-intel8x0 will do the work. The driver for OSS (i810_audio) works, too.

X11 / Console

Configuring XFree86 4.2.1 with the i810 driver didn't work with XFree86 -configure, but dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86 did it. See the XF86Config-4 file. Resolutions work up to 1024x768. I couldn't get framebuffer support for console (tried 790, 791, 792, 793 mode), they were discarded as invalid. In console mode only a part of the display is used.

Jogdial

The jogdial runs like a charm. You need the kernel-module sonypi and the package sjog installed. A mknod /dev/sonypi 10 63 creates the needed device file and then you can run sjog under X. It works as a mouse-wheel per default and a press on the wheel gives you a (configurable) menu to quick-launch applications. This menu allows to set display brightness and other settings.

FireWire (IEEE1394) / CD-RW

The CD-drive (and assumably other FireWire-hardware) works after applying the current patches for ACPI and IEEE1394. Burning is done with 8x speed. You can play and thus rip Audio-CDs, but you cannot hear them. The player has no sockets for connecting cables except for the data/power-cable and the data-cable does not transport audio-data.

Modem

Doesn't work so far. I'm still trying to find out which driver is the right one for this WinModem. The one for Connectix (hsflin), Intel (536ep) and Lucent (ltmodem) doesn't seem to do it.

Installing RedHat 8.0

By Dr. Jim McElwaine:

The basic install worked very smoothly. I booted from a USB floppy using bootnet.img and then did an NFS network install. The correct video driver i810 for Intel 82815 was selected but the autoprobed values were incorrect and caused the X server to crash on exit. The setting should be

1024x768
4MB video memory
24bit true color

Set the monitor to exactly 60Hz 1024x768 laptop These can be set after installation using redhat-config-xfree86. My USB mouse was detected and installed in /etc/X11/XF86Config but not the touchpad. Edit the /etc/X11/XF86Config file yourself and put in

Section "ServerLayout"
        Identifier     "Anaconda Configured"
        Screen          0  "Screen0" 0 0
        InputDevice    "TouchPad" "CorePointer"
        InputDevice    "USBMouse" "SendCoreEvents"
        InputDevice    "SerialMouse" "SendCoreEvents"
        InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "TouchPad"
        Driver          "mouse"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
        Option          "Protocol"              "PS/2"
        Option          "Emulate3Buttons"       "yes"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "USBMouse"
        Driver          "mouse"
        Option          "Protocol"             "auto"
        Option          "Device"               "/dev/input/mice"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"         "4 5"
EndSection

Other Resources

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© Werner Heuser 1997-2014 · http://tuxmobil.org/sony_vx71p.html · last change Mon Nov 12 2007