Ubuntu on Sony Vaio Fz21e

Sony Vaio make the most beautiful non apple notebooks (in my opinion) unfortunately its laptops are also very linux unfriendly. Last year while shoping for a new laptop i wanted something stylish and at the same time built with open hardware and works with Linux, hence i avoided anything that had broadcom or atheros wireless drivers, and ATI Graphic Drivers since they are notorious for their freedom hating attitude towards Linux (they don’t usually work out of the box ). so when i saw a sony vaio that has an intel wireless card, ( intel wireless cards are very well supported in LInux),NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT (Nvidia graphic cards although closed sourced are generally well supported in Linux ).  Nothing felt better than a shinny new laptop to run Linux and make my window friends drool at the stability and beauty it brings to my desktop experience . So i shelled out 145,000 Naira ( about $1,200) to get my shinny new laptop so that we could leave happily ever after .. right ?  … Wrong. Turns out that i would have to do some extra stuffs  to get my brand new Sony Vaio to play well with Linux .

Basic Hardware Specs/Status:

Ubuntu on Sony Vaio Fz21e

* August 17, 2008 – 10:45 am
* Posted in Ubuntu
* Tagged ubuntu hardware sony vaio
* Edit

Sony Vaio make the most beautiful non apple notebooks (in my opinion) unfortunately its laptops are also very linux unfriendly. Last year while shoping for a new laptop i wanted something stylish and at the same time built with open hardware and works with Linux, hence i avoided anything that had broadcom or atheros wireless drivers, and ATI Graphic Drivers since they are notorious for their freedom hating attitude towards Linux (they don’t usually work out of the box ). so when i saw a sony vaio that has an intel wireless card, ( intel wireless cards are very well supported in LInux),NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT (Nvidia graphic cards although closed sourced are generally well supported in Linux ). Nothing felt better than a shinny new laptop to run Linux and make my window friends drool at the stability and beauty it brings to my desktop experience . So i shelled out 145,000 Naira ( about $1,200) to get my shinny new laptop so that we could leave happily ever after .. right ? … Wrong. Turns out that i would have to do some extra stuffs to get my brand new Sony Vaio to play well with Linux .

Basic Hardware Specs/Status:

Hardware Components and Status Under Ubuntu Hardy Heron

*Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 / 2 GHz
Just Works

*Display Type 15.4″ TFT
Just Works

*NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT / 64 MB
Works (You have to install the Nvidia Drivers)

*2 GB / 4 GB (max) DDR II SDRAM – 667 MHz
Just Works Just Works

*Hard Drive 160 GB – Serial ATA-150 – 5400 rpm
Just Works

*Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Just Works

*Sensor Resolution 1.3 Megapixel
Works More Info

*56 kbps Modem
Untested

*Card reader
Works (Memory Stick issue)

*fn Keys for Brightness Control
Does not work

*Multimedia Control Keys
Just Works

*Hibernation
Works More Info

The First Linux Distro i installed on the sony laptop was Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon . then Later Hardy Heron so this Guide is based on Hardy Heron .

PACKAGES THAT NEED TO BE INSTALL FROM SYNAPTICS OR APT-GET

lphdisk

cheese

nvidia-settings

libjasper-runtime

build-essential

Audio Headphone Problem

The first problem i encountered with this laptop was the fact that no sound worked when i plugged in my head phone . i easily got this fixed by opening  /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base as root.To do this open Terminal (Application/Accessories/Terminal) and run this -supply your systems passward when asked-

gksu gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base

and inserting this line

options snd-hda-intel model=vaio

at the bottom after the last line

save and close the text edit . once you restart the problem would be fixed

Webcam Problem

Before we start installing the web Camera  lets fix some bugs caused by  HAL loading a wrong module for the camera that in addition to not working, makes the laptop crash when you try to suspend it. So you must remove the misbehaving module from the kernel and prohibit reloading it.

open terminal and run this

sudo gedit /etc/pm/config.d/unload_modules

Give your password and then copy and paste the following line at the end of the file:

SUSPEND_MODULES=uvcvideo

save and close the file .

Now we can start working on the webcam by first making  sure you have installed the build-essential package from the  synaptic package manager (System/Administration/Synaptic) or sudo apt-get install build-essential.Now you need to download the needed driver which can be downlaoded here

Save the downloaded file to your Desktop  open Terminal and run the following command (yeah you can copy and paste to reduce typo errors)

cd $HOME/Desktop

then this

tar xzvf r5u870-0.10.1.tar.gz

and

cd r5u870-0.10.1

and

make

and

sudo make install

now we have the drivers installed

VERY IMPORTANT

We are not done yet with the Webcam

from Terminal rule this gksu gedit /etc/modules

and paste the followings at the bottom of the text file that opens after the last line.

r5u870
videodev
v4l1-compat
v4l2-common
video-buf
meye

save and close the text editor

now run this in terminal

sudo modprobe r5u870

To make use of the webcam we would need to download a very cool application called cheese . you can install it through synaptic or from terminal sudo apt-get install cheese

when installed cheese can be found under Application/Graphic/Cheese Try it

Didnt work right ? yeah i know i just wanted you to try your luck it did work in gutsy though .. ok to make it work open a new terminal and run this wget http://students.ceid.upatras.gr/%7Easimakis/10-r5u870-webcam.fdi

then this

mv 10-r5u870-webcam.fd /usr/share/hal/fdi/information/20thirdparty

now you can restart your system and the webcam would be fully working .if you dont want to restart just run this in terminal

sudo /etc/init.d/hal restart

Open Cheese and your webcam would work .. even with skype .

to use webcam with yahoo messenger you have to install kopete and libjasper from the Synaptic or

sudo apt-get install kopete libjasper-runtime

You would find Kopete under Application/Internet/Kopete

Sound Recording

  1. Open the sound controls by clicking the sound icon next to the clock.
  2. Select File->Change Device->HDA Intel (Alsa mixer)
  3. Then goto Edit->Preferences and select everything.

Hibernation

Install the Following tool from synaptic lphdisk

Reference

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=706530

http://www.palmix.org/vaio-en.html

http://inshame.blogspot.com/2008/06/ubuntu-hardy-heron-on-sony-vaio-vgn.html

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Bobby

Name is Adesuyan Bobby and i work as a Linux system admin. A Lawyer by training, Geek at heart with passion for music, Hiking, Podcasts, Photography, books and most especially Free and Open Source Software.