This page describes my experience installing Red Hat Linux 6.0 on my SONY VAIO 505F in September 1999. I did a network install over PLIP, since I do not have an Ethernet card or a cdrom drive for the VAIO. I preserved the original Windows 98 installation on the first partition and configured the machine to dual boot Linux and Windows.
This is intended to inform experienced Linux users of the VAIO-specific details of my installation. It is not a comprehensive guide to installing Linux on VAIOs, or on anything else. See Eric Raymond's Linux Installation HOWTO for general advice on installation. Kenneth Harker's Linux on Laptops is a great resource, and it includes links to additional installation reports by other VAIO users. I did my installation with Joseph Chui's more comprehensive summary of Linux installation on VAIOs in hand. And, although it is not Linux oriented, Emanuel Brown's VAIO page is a good, active starting point for information about the VAIO. I especially recommend his VAIO mailing list for its good technical discussions on all matters VAIO.
I had only minor difficulties getting Linux installed on the VAIO, nothing more complex than the ordinary snags that crop up when installing Linux on desktop hardware. I repartitioned the disk in one shot, without breaking Windows. I got Red Hat to download the RPMs from a remote host via PLIP with only minor software aggravations. Some simple additional configuration was needed to use X. I have never had an easier time configuring PPP. The result is terrific: my VAIO is the nicest Linux machine I have ever used.
If you find any errors on this page, please notify me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I repartitioned the drive with fips to preserve Windows. There was less than 1GB used on the Windows partition as delivered. I left a 1.5GB partition for Windows and created two new partitions, one for the Linux filesystem, one for its swap space. The steps I followed mirror what is suggested in the fips documentation and on other Linux/VAIO webpages:
Here is how Linux fdisk prints my partition table:
Disk /dev/hda: 240 heads, 63 sectors, 559 cylinders Units = cylinders of 15120 * 512 bytes Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/hda1 1 204 1542208+ b Win95 FAT32 /dev/hda2 * 205 531 2472120 83 Linux /dev/hda3 532 544 98280 82 Linux swap /dev/hda4 545 558 105840 a0 IBM Thinkpad hibernation
Note /dev/hda4 is the partition used by the hibernation (suspend to disk) feature. Conveniently, this partition was assigned to 4 before I ran fips, so I didn't have to do anything to preserve it when I split the first partition. And, hibernation in Windows still works fine.
I changed the boot partition to /dev/hda2 from within the Red Hat installation system. I had Red Hat install LILO on /dev/hda2, not the MBR, on advice given on Joseph Chui's page. This worked fine -- both Linux and Windows boot perfectly. However, I think his advice stems from an assumption the "V-Communication System Commander Deluxe" boot manager is installed. Since I did not use this thing, I wonder whether LILO on the MBR would work just as well in my case.
PLIP creates an IP connection between the parallel ports of two computers. This configuration has its quirks -- it is slow, poorly documented, and a bitch to debug -- but it is inexpensive, requiring only a "laplink" cable to connect the parallel ports ($16 from CompUSA, probably half that anywhere else). For installing Linux, it is a good alternative to buying a cdrom drive or a PCMCIA Ethernet card for the VAIO.
PLIP required some fiddling. On the VAIO, the Red Hat installation system started PLIP smoothly, without any input from me other than selecting PLIP as the network driver. However, sometimes I found it impossible to recover from my configuration errors on the desktop without rebooting one or both of the computers.
The main problem with PLIP appears to be that the modules involved do not automatically configure the parallel port IRQ correctly on the desktop machine (they work fine on the VAIO). I worked around this by manually loading the modules and setting the interrupt, as follows:
/sbin/insmod parport # load base parallel port module /sbin/insmod parport_pc # load PC-specific module echo 7 > /proc/parport/0/irq # set the IRQ to 7 /sbin/insmod plip # load plip module
I assigned 192.168.0.1 to the desktop machine and 192.168.0.2 to the VAIO. On the desktop machine, I started the PLIP connection with:
/sbin/ifconfig plip0 192.168.0.1 netmask 255.255.255.0 up
At first I tried to mount the cdrom with NFS, but I could not configure the desktop machine to allow the VAIO to mount it. It claimed there was no export information for the VAIO's IP address, even though I had it there in /etc/exports. I spent way too much time debugging this; eventually I had to give up.
FTP, a better idea in the first place, worked on the first try. The Red Hat installation system allows you to select the IP address, the directory, the username, and the password of the remote host. The only thing I needed to do on the desktop was make sure that ftpd worked.
It took about two hours for the Red Hat files, about 600MB in all, to be copied over the 10 foot PLIP connection. Throughout the transfer both machines logged many "transmit timeout" messages. Since the data was actually being delivered, at whatever rate, I felt no urge to try to understand this.
I plan to use PLIP for all my short-term future VAIO networking. I like that the cable is heavier than the computer.
I could not get X to start from the configuration created by the Red Hat installation system. As suggested on Joseph Chui's page, I downloaded the XFCom-neomagic X server RPM from ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/XFCom (the filename is XFCom-neomagic-glibc-2.0.0-1.i386.rpm), and followed his instructions for installing it:
rpm -ivh XFCom-neomagic-glibc-2.0.0-1.i386 ln -sf /usr/X11R6/bin/XFCom_NeoMagic /etc/X11/X mv /etc/X11/XF86Config /etc/X11/XF86Config.old cp /etc/X11/XF86Config.neomagic /etc/X11/XF86Config
After this X worked fine, except it defaulted to 8-bit depth. I changed the default to 16-bit by removing the entries for 8-bit and 24-bit depth from the Screen section of /etc/X11/XF86Config.
The mouse worked fine from the beginning. The Red Hat installation system correctly determines that it is a PS/2 mouse.
The modem worked fine. The Red Hat installation system did not offer to configure my modem (perhaps because I used the "bootnet" boot image). I had to manually create the /dev/modem link to /dev/ttyS1. Through careless meandering I wound up configuring PPP twice -- once with linuxconf, and once with kppp, the KDE PPP tool. I doubt the linuxconf configuration was necessary. In the past I have always configured and started PPP with handwritten scripts. kppp is the first tool I've let do it for me, and I am impressed by its robustness and reliability.
I haven't touched APM -- I don't even know what it means under Linux. However, system suspend and resume using both the "suspend" (suspend to RAM) and "hibernate" (suspend to disk) functions work flawlessly under Linux. This still impresses me so much (it's my first laptop) that I haven't looked into any other APM features yet.
I got sound to work by following the instructions on Joseph Chui's page. Use sndconfig to select a Sound Blaster 16 compatible card. Set the parameters to:
I/O ADDR IRQ 1 DMA IRQ 2 MPU I/O 220 5 1 5 330
sndconfig updates /etc/conf.modules so that the sound configuration persists on reboot.