This article describes installing and running Linux, specifically Fedora Core distro, on a Sony VAIO Series A Laptop (VGN-A170P).
Caveat: These notes are my best recollection of the process. If you find anything inaccurate please email the author so that I can make corrections.
- General Installation
- Wireless Networking
- DVD Drive
- Sony Utilities
- Cisco VPN Client
When I attempted to install Fedora Core 2 I received kernel panics immediately upon booting the install CD (which I have successfully installed on other machines.) Therefore, I went directly to Fedora Core 3 Test 1 release that installed without any problems.
By the time the spiders get to this page and you are all reading this, Fedora Core 3 will be in stable release. Therefore, my suggestion is to install FC3 for best compatibility.
The following components/features of the system worked without any intervention:
- USB Ports
- My Logitech Cordless Mouseman Optical USB Mouse
- Intel Audio Controller
- Intel Gigabit Ethernet Controller
- CD/DVD Drive
Basically, the rudimentary basics of everything on this laptop worked directly from the install. However, in order to get full functionality from the graphics card, wireless controller, and the bluetooth device controller, some work is needed.
Video Card: The very plain
vesa driver was loaded by default. The reason I bought this laptop was for the WUXGA display, therefore, 640×480 resolution was not quite acceptable. According to various sources, the
ati driver that comes with X.Org should support the graphics card (ATI Mobility Radeon 9700) that comes with the laptop. After loading this driver things improved immensely, although it incorrectly detected the graphics card as a ATI Mobility Radeon 9600. However, this sounded close enough.
Resolution: Loading the
ati driver didn’t, however, solve the resolution problem as I could not get wide screen or full resolution. Therefore, I went about the onnerous job of creating my own
xorg.conf file to get the resolution up to a wopping 1920×1200. The following are the relevent sections:
Section "Monitor" Identifier "Monitor0" VendorName "Monitor Vendor" ModelName "LCD Panel 1920x1200" HorizSync 31.5 - 90.0 VertRefresh 60.0 - 60.0 Option "dpms" EndSection Section "Device" Identifier "Videocard0" Driver "ati" VendorName "ATI" BoardName "ATI Radeon Mobility 9700" EndSection Section "Screen" Identifier "Screen0" Device "Videocard0" Monitor "Monitor0" DefaultDepth 24 SubSection "Display" Viewport 0 0 Depth 24 Modes "1920x1200" "1680x1050" "1440x900" EndSubSection EndSection
LCD Panel Contrast: Please see the Sony Utilities section.
The Series A VAIOs come with the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG device. Intel has started the IPW2200 project on sourceforge to provide a community supported linux device driver. Here are the steps to get the device working:
- Download both the IPW2200 driver and the binary firmware image.
- Unpack the driver and do the
- Unpack the firmware driver in
- You should now see the network device in the hardware browser!
- Create a new network connection via the
system-config-networkapp (from the System Settings menu) or by creating your own script using
There is a good run-down of the ipw2200 driver at http://www.ces.clemson.edu/linux/fc2-ipw2200.shtml.
Some bluetooth support is installed with FC3. There is a
bluetooth service that is controlled like all other services in a RedHat distro:
service bluetooth start
To test if you are now recognizing the bluetooth device controller, issue the following command:
The above should give you your local device address in the form 00:00:00:00:00:00
Connecting to a device: The following is an example of how to connect to a device (In this example my Sony Ericsson T616 mobile phone works well with Linux):
- Turn on the phone and enable bluetooth
- The above command will return the remote device address.
sdptool browse <remote device address&rt;(device address will be in the form
- The above command will will pop up a little window asking for the PIN of the phone.
- The phone should then ask you to add the device (your laptop) to its devices list.
- Look for the channel number (RFCOMM) from the garbage that is spit out on the command line
bluephone --address=00:0E:07:0A:81:0E --rfcomm=3
gnome-bluetooth-admin tool is a GUI version of
sdptool browse command.
Receiving files from a device:
The following is an example of how to receive files from a device (Again, I use my mobile phone as the remote device:)
- Run the
gnome-obex-serverapp (in the System Tools folder or via command line.)
- Turn on bluetooth via the switch on the laptop (not necessary to use
spicctrl) and launch the service (
service bluetooth start.)
- Turn on bluetooth on the phone.
- Take a picture with the camera and select “send via bluetooth” then select the laptop device from the menu on the phone.
- The picture will be placed in your home directory.
Sending files to a device:
- Run the
gnome-obex-send(only via command line) and must have parameters as follows (of course all bluetooth stuff must be up and running):
gnome-bluetooth-send --dest 00:0E:07:0A:81:0E <file>
- The phone will want you to confirm what you are doing.
To play a DVD:
- Download and install mplayer
mplayer dvd://1 /dev/cdrom
In order to be able to change the LCD panel contrast you will need to download and install the Sony Programmable I/O Control Device Driver utilities. There are two packages that you will need to install as follows:
rpmbuild -tb spicctrl*.tar.bz2
rpmbuild -tb sonypid*.tar.bz2
The above should alter your
/etc/modules.conf and create the device
/dev/sonypi. The following commands will then get everything up and running:
sonypi -D(This launches the daemon to poll for events.)
The user space utility
spicctrl allows you to change LCD contrast, get battery information and various other things, some which work and some that don’t. This utility will also activate the little mute and contrast buttons at the top of the keyboard and directly below the LCD panel. When the contrast is set to its highest setting, the contrast button will light up, however, it doesn’t appear to do anything when pressed. The mute button, on the other hand, is fully functional.
I was unsuccessful at getting the volume buttons or the other two mysterious little buttons to do anything.
To get a full overview of the
spicctrl utility just use the switch
If you are tired of manually loading the
sonypi device and launching the
sonypi daemon, you can place this
sonyvaio script in
/etc/rc.d/init.d directory and use your favourite commands such as
chkconfig to control it and have it launch at startup. After placing the file in the correct location, the following commands will set it to launch at startup:
chkconfig --add sonyvaio
chkconfig --level 235 sonyvaio on