This document describes experiences with
running Linux on
what is claimed to be the first Sony Vaio
(PCG-Z600NEK has W2K pre-loaded)
to reach the UK,
and later with a couple of
This page was started a few hours after I got it, and developed as I learnt more.
As soon as it is working sufficiently, it will be taken back by its user,
so I will no longer have access to the machine
(unless it happens to be on the internet, which is rare).
However, other readers have sent in their experience.
Please feel free to send any comments etc to
This report is listed at
TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, notebooks, PDAs and mobile phones
I have not found a full printed manual, just brief intros and a CD.
Sony says the PCG-Z600NE has a 500MHz Mobile PIII with with SpeedStep,
256KB of L2 cache,
but the stickers and glossies say 650MHz, and Linux thinks it has a 650MHz PIII Coppermine.
It comes with base memory of 128M, and can upgraded to 256MB.
(4200RPM, 12mS seek, 512KB buffer (linux sees 418), 85-161Mb/s, UDMA2 66.6MB/s,
manages 4MB/s with UDMA off,
but running `hdparm -d1 /dev/hda' or adding
`append= "ide0=dma"' to lilo.conf, boosts that to 13 MB/s.
It has a 12.1" TFT LCD display, managing 1024x768.
The web page says it has a
128 bit accelerator, with 2.5 MB video RAM (and Direct 3D),
but the glossies says
128-bit accelerator NeoMagic MagicMedia 256XL+ with 6MB Video RAM.
Linux seems to think it has a
6080KB frame buffer,
Neomagic Corporation: Unknown device 0016 (rev 10),
Subsystem: Sony Corporation: Unknown device 809d,
IRQ 9 at 01:00.0, which can be used under XF4.0 using FBDEV.
It has no PS/2 connector.
It has a Memory Stick slot (not tried),
400 Mbps Infrared supports 4 Mbps/115 kbps IrDA (not tried),
USB (1 x standard; 1 x mini),
DC-in, Microphone, Headphone.
The Port Replicator has: serial, parallel, USB, VGA and on the TEK, i.LINK S400.
It has a `Jog Dial' which appear to be usable a bit like the wheel on a wheel mouse (not tried).
The reset switch it tiny, and not marked (on the bottom, just the left of centre near the front).
It has the usual Sony Touch Pad.
It has a FireWire (IEEE 1394) iLINK (not tried).
It has an Intel eepro100b 10/100 interface.
It has a Memory Stick slot (which sometimes appears as a SCSI controller !) (not tried).
It has one typeII slot on a Ricoh RL5c475 rev 80 Cardbus Bridge.
Its built in 56k `Conexant SoftK56 Data,Fax PCI Modem'
(vendor 14f1, device 2443)
Winmodem does not work under Linux (not tried).
It has a standard Sony USB Floppy Drive, which works with Lunux 2.2.16 and
so long as `Plug&Play OS' is disabled
(otherwise it fails to find an IRQ - see `lspci -v').
With Linux 2.4 and later, it works with `Plug&Play OS' enabled.
It measures 29x275x226 mm, and weighs in at 1.7 kg.
It has a BIOS visible PCMCIA 16x CD drive which appears not have an analogue
channel to the audio card.
The standard battery
(see gif graphs:
seems to last from around 1:40 (BIOS set to full speed, screen on)
to 2:20 (BIOS set to Recommended, screen off) under Linux
(three days in `suspend to RAM'),
and takes 3 hours to recharge if in use (Sony say 90m to get to 85%, then another hour to full charge).
When charging, it rises steadily until it reaches 90% and then slows down.
The battery light double blinks while charging up to 85% (at which point it turns off).
It discharges at a steady rate,
and starts flashing in unison the `on' and battery lights at around 10%,
and after about 4 minutes at 0(NB: it does NOT hibernate to disk or suspend to RAM, so if a computer is left on without mains, it is likely to loose its state when the battery runs out).
The battery stays on solid while in use, until it gets `low', when it
The ZEK is similar, but
has a 700MHz CPU,
has an `ATI|3D Rage P/M Mobility AGP 2x'
(use XF 3.3.6 MACH64 or XF 4.0.1 ati),
20GB Travelstar 20GN
(108.8-202.9Mb/s, 2MB cache, FwRev=JS4OAC0A).
According to the web specs,
it does not have a `Built-in microphone' or
`Infrared supports 4 Mbps/115 kbps IrDA Standard'.
The battery discharge is not linear.
There is an initial period of a few minutes when it remains at 100%,
then drops linearly to about 25%, then drops more steeply for a bit,
returns to the original rate, and then remains at 0% for several minutes.
This is the case for a standard PCGA-BPZ51 1400mAh battery (1:30) and the
PCGA-BPZ52 4200mAh (4:30)
(see gif graphs: discharge
- curl at end of discharge are to make final points more clear).
`suspend to memory' uses 44% of the extended battery per day,
i.e. 2.3 days, so just 18 hours on a standard battery !
Use `text' mode to do the initial RH 6.2 load.
There are various
relating to USB, audio, Fn-<N>, etc.
The NE disk came partitioned as an 8GB C: on hda1 loaded with W98,
along with an unused 4GB D: on hda5.
The TEKs disk came partitioned as a 12GB C: on hda1 loaded with W98,
along with an unused 7GB D: on hda5, both FAT 32
I used PQMagic 4.0 to shrink the former and delete the latter.
Due to the fact that I only had three quarters of an hour to complete
the full install before I had to go home for the weekend,
I didn't have time to load up the documentation CD and discover that it had an
(as so often, I knew nothing about it being purchased until
As such, I used the PCMCIA boot floppy.
For the TEK, I used the netboot floppy, and had to type `text' at the
`boot: ' prompt,
as it tried to use X but ended up doing nasty things to the screen.
Apart from not being able to write a boot disk, it was completely straightforward.
I then loaded a local 2.2.16 kernel (e.g. for ALSA audio).
I then loaded pcmcia-cs 3.3.17 (3.1.8 doesn't work well with non Cardbus cards).
Gil <firstname.lastname@example.org> reports that to boot from the CD
(e.g. if no boot floppy, LILO, etc) using a Boot line such as:
linux ide2=0x180,0x386 root=/dev/hda11 initrd=
on how to load slackware using the M$ filespace to hold the packages.
Not everything is working yet, but it's getting there.
(for 16 bpp, vga=792 for 24bpp - see
/usr/src/linux/Documentation/fb/vesafb.txt) in the global section
of lilo.conf causes it to use the whole screen (128x48).
Note however, that under XF 4.0.1 on a TEK, switching back to VC1 causes the
LCD to show horizontal while lines, as if out of sync, so do not set vga.
The TEK uses an ATI|3D Rage P/M Mobility AGP 2x'
which works for XF 3.3.6 MACH64 (for LCD only, not external)
and XF 4.0.1 ati.
However, if booted with `vga=79x', switching back to a VC reveals
that the display is misbahaving, as if `out of sync'.
`vga=6' is about the best available.
Unfortunately the Release 3.*
XFree86 Video Card and X server list
does not mention the NE card and
XFree86 3.* DOES NOT WORK.
It has a YMF-744B which works with the ALSA drivers, e.g. ymfpci.
It has a
`Basic2 / SmartDAA (D840)'.
Using XFree86 Release 4.0 with the Driver fbdev,
it works at 1024x768 using this
(see a sample log file)
which is set for `vga=791'
and a UK keyboard, so check the fine tuning.
It is currently available for uni-processor MMX systems only.
Ensure that the kernel-source RPM is installed,
install the hsflinmodem RPM,
and run `hsfconfig'.
This builds the modules if necessary, installs them, updates /etc/modulec.conf
and creates /dev/ttySHSF0 (c 240 64).
The connects to our modem pool at 38400, without making any sounds
(e.g. can't hear it dialling, being answered, etc).
The TEK has a Phoenix v4.0 r6.0, without hibernation facilities.
The NE has a Phoenix NoteBIOS v4.0 which include hibernate to disk code,
invoked by pressing Fn-F12.
This displays the `hibernate to disk' BIOS screen,
and then the green `on' (left most) light should go out (rather than flashing
red as it does in suspend mode) after about 20 seconds.
It can save to a file called save2dsk.bin on C:
(may need to be FAT16, or have the boot flag set),
or it can save to the end of the disk to a `IBM Thinkpad hibernation'
(type 0xa0) partition.
In each case, the area has to be initialised using the Phdisk.exe programme.
This can be copied to a bootable DOS floppy.
Before running PHDISK, ensure that there is sufficient space FREE
at the end of the disk.
It needs to be able to create its partition as a primary,
so hda4 is kept free for this purpose.
It needs `a bit more that the RAM size'
(e.g. an extra 13976 sectors)
A 128MB machine requires 137664Kbytes of `good disk space',
1K of reserved sectors, and 305K for bad block growth, making 137970KB.
ENSURE THERE IS NO USEFUL DATA at the end of the disk,
and then free up the space.
is probably the easiest tool to use to make a free area of disk at the end of
a pre-existing extended partition, as it resizes all the necessary partitions.
On a 128MB machine, it uses 275940 starting at sector 23302755.
This has the side effect of making partition 4 extend beyond the
`last cylinder' of the disk, with the result that cfdisk will not run.
Ensure there is no old file by using `PHDISK /DELETE /FILE /NOREBOOT'.
Create the new one using `PHDISK /CREATE /PARTITION'
(If it warns about destroying things, say no, and go back and make the free
This creates a type a0 (IBM Thinkpad hibernation) partition.
It appears that the built-in ethernet does not recover from hibernation.
On being left by the user for about half an hour
(or after `apm -s'),
XF 4.0.1 goes into a loop
`sigreturn()', `-- SIGALRM (Alarm clock) --'
if running Linux 2.4.
As busy, does not listen to keyboard, so can't select another VC.
Linux 2.2.16 seems to work OK ...
It appears that at least our wirless cards do not `wake up' after `apm -s'.
As such, use a sledge hammer, and set
`PCMCIARESTART="yes"' in /etc/sysconfig/apmd.
There is currently no option in /etc/sysconfig/apmd to request that the network
card be restarted after resumption, so it is necessary to manually restart it.
A wide range of problems appear to occur on reboot, apparanetly associated
with the USB floppy drive being inserted at boot time.
It has been reported that having the USB floppy plugged in
(need not be in use)
`increases the load',
i.e. raises the Load Average to 1.
Note that the machine is not actually busy,
just that the load average is spuriously high.
As such, it does no harm, but may be misleading.
The `Fn-<N>' buttons appear not to work, so it is stuck with full
brightness, full speed, and it cannot be suspened from the keyboard.
However, it is reported that if M$ is run, any changes in the settings
- `eepro100 wait_for_cmd_done timeout!'
- Audio does not work using ALSA if `Both Sides' in enabled in the BIOS- it repeats the initial sounds, and eventually stops with an IO error message.
- Do not set `plug & play OS' to Yes, or it freezes when starting up ALSA.
- Starting ALSA seems to hang if `plug & play OS' is enabled,
or sometimes if the machine reboots.
If the latter occurs, use the power button to stop and then start the machine,
and it should work.
To use the VGA port
the IO adaptor has to be plugged in and a monitor
(or null monitor)
should be connected at boot time.
It uses Phoenix BIOS 4.0 Release 6.0, which may explain the following.
Suspend to RAM works (which really soaks up the power - lasts about 16 hours),
but hibernate to disk does not.
It appears to be a `WinBIOS' ...