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Installing Mandrake Linux 10.1 on a Sony Vaio A series


VGN-A190, VGN-A170, VGN-A130, VGN-A140, VGN-A150, VGN-A160
VGN-A290, VGN-A260, VGN-A250, VGN-A230, VGN-A240, VGN-A270



The screen on this laptop is amazing. I tested Mandrake on a VGN-A190 but it should work also for any the other VGN-A models as well.


- You can use Mandrake installation to resize your NTFS partition without losing any data, in case you want to keep dual boot.
- Mandrake 10 or 10.1 installs without any problems and very quickly. Less than 10 minutes for default installation.

After you boot the first time you will see the KDE front end if you selected the KDE.

A230Good things after installation:

- The display driver is working
- The mouse pad, and my external Microsoft wireless mouse both work under X.
- The sound works
- The DVD burner works
- The mute button works, this is because this is a hardware button.
- The Ethernet card works.
- Closing the screen works as a button action on the kcontrol Laptop battery module, so you can configure it to perform an action you think is adequate.
- The Power button, Lid Close/Open and the plug and unplug ACPI events also work.
- PCMCIA works
- You can adjust the LCD brightness after installing sonypi driver and using spictrl on command line or KControl battery GUI, but not using the keyboard keys.
- When the laptop is docked, the speakers on the docking station work (see instructions below).
-  The Dock Station Ethernet port, USB ports, VGA port, DVI-D port and 2 external speakers are working.

Does not work:


- The wireless card does not work after installation, but there is a driver ipw2200 for it but it's still in early development.
- In The A190 dock station, I was not able to make the IR, TV tuner/Video, and the Remote card work.
- The other buttons are software buttons so I did not spend any time on those yet, but they do not work for now.
- Suspend/Resume does not work. On Mandrake 10 Official.
- Auto brightness (XBrite) does not work.
- For Audio CDs the sound does not work (you can play the wav files or create the ogg/mp3 files and play it in amarok or juk).

Works but not is not very stable:

- Suspend/Resume works better on the new Mandrake 10.1 Beta but still not stable.
- Hibernate work sometimes. You need to have a swap partition 30% than your physical memory.
  Example: for a laptop with  2 GB memory, you need at least 2.6GB swap partition to be able to hibernate. Make sure to setup this at installation time.

Not tested:

- The other ports on the Dock Station: VGA, DVI-D, S-Video in/out, audio RCA in/out, Video RCA in/out
- Dock Station Parallel port - some people reported that their where able to use the parallel port without configuration.A170
- The modem [looks like a win modem]
- The fire wire port [it looks to be configured]
- The Memory stick reader [it looks that it's configured]

The dock station gives A190 one extra parallel port, 1 Gb Ethernet port, 1 IR port, TV tuner/video card, 4 USB ports, 1 VGA, 1 DVI-D, 1 S-Video in, 1 S-Video out, 1 audio stereo RCA in, 1 audio stereo RCA out, 1 video RCA in, 1 video RCA out, 1 audio optical out and 2 external speakers.
The A190 dock station as you can see from lsusb output, shows all the hardware in the dock station as usb devices.

lsusb output:

Bus 007 Device 002: ID 067b:2305 Prolific Technology, Inc. PL2305 Parallel Port
Bus 007 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 005 Device 003: ID 054c:01aa Sony Corp. [ TVC-U02 ]
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 004 Device 004: ID 054c:00d4 Sony Corp. [ Sony IR Receiver ]
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 045e:008a Microsoft Corp. [ My Microsoft Wireless Mouse ]
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 0409:0059 NEC Corp. HighSpeed Hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000

lspcidrake output:

intel-agp       : Intel Corp.|82855PM Processor to I/O Controller [BRIDGE_HOST]
unknown : Intel Corp.|82855PM Processor to AGP Controller [BRIDGE_PCI]
usb-uhci : Intel Corp.|82801DB USB Controller [SERIAL_USB]
usb-uhci : Intel Corp.|82801DB USB Controller [SERIAL_USB]
usb-uhci : Intel Corp.|82801DB USB Controller [SERIAL_USB]
ehci-hcd : Intel Corp.|82801DB USB Enhanced Controller [SERIAL_USB]
hw_random : Intel Corp.|82801 Hub Interface to PCI Bridge [BRIDGE_PCI]
unknown : Intel Corp.|82801DBM LPC Interface Bridge [BRIDGE_ISA]
unknown : Intel Corp.|82801DBM IDE Controller (UltraATA/100) [STORAGE_IDE]
unknown : Intel Corp.|82801DB SMBus Controller [SERIAL_SMBUS]
snd-intel8x0 : Intel Corp.|ICH4 845G/GL Chipset AC'97 Audio Controller [MULTIMEDIA_AUDIO]
slamr : Intel Corp.|82801DB AC [COMMUNICATION_MODEM]
Card:ATI Radeon (fglrx): ATI|Radeon Mobility 9600 (M10) NP (AGP) [DISPLAY_VGA]
unknown : Texas Instruments|PCI7420 CardBus Controller [BRIDGE_CARDBUS]
ohci1394 : Texas Instruments|PCI7x20 1394a-2000 OHCI Two-Port PHY/Link-Layer Controller [SERIAL_FIREWIRE]
unknown : Texas Instruments|PCI7420 Flash Media Controller [STORAGE_OTHER]
ipw2200 : Intel Corp.|Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG [NETWORK_OTHER]
e1000 : Intel Corp.|82547EI Gigabit Ethernet Controller [NETWORK_ETHERNET]
usb-ohci : NEC|USB [SERIAL_USB]
usb-ohci : NEC|USB [SERIAL_USB]
ehci-hcd : NEC Corp.|PCI to USB Enhanced Host Controller [SERIAL_USB]
hub : Linux ohci_hcd|OHCI Host Controller [Hub]
usblp : Prolific Technology, Inc.|PL2305 Parallel Port [Printer|Printer|Unidirectional]
hub : Linux ohci_hcd|OHCI Host Controller [Hub]
hub : Linux ehci_hcd|EHCI Host Controller [Hub]
unknown : SONY|TVC-U02
hub : Linux ehci_hcd|EHCI Host Controller [Hub]
hub : unknown (0409/0059/ffff/ffff) [Hub]
usbhid : Microsoft|Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop® 1.00 [Human Interface Devices|Boot Interface Subclass|Keyboard]
usbhid : Sony|Sony IR Receiver [Human Interface Devices|No Subclass|None]
hub : Linux uhci_hcd|UHCI Host Controller [Hub]
hub : Linux uhci_hcd|UHCI Host Controller [Hub]
hub : Linux uhci_hcd|UHCI Host Controller [Hub]

RPMs you need after install

I installed the acpid daemon, sonypid, spicctrl, pcmcia, and wireless tools
urpmi acpid                            [ACPI Server]
urpmi pcmcia [PC card utilities]
urpmi acpi [ACPI command line gui]
urpmi wireless-tools [wireless card utilities]
urpmi noflushd [Daemon that sends idle disks to sleep]
urpmi cpufreq
urpmi cpufreqd [CPU frequency scaling daemon]
urpmi gnome-cpufreq-applet-0.2.1-1mdk
urpmi sonypid [control brightness and special keys]
urpmi spicctrl [control brightness and special keys]

Remote URPMI

For easier installation of rpm's you can go to easy urpmi web site and look for a mirror.
Here is an example for Mandrake 10.0:
urpmi.addmedia proxad_plf with
urpmi.addmedia --update proxad_updates with ../base/
urpmi.addmedia proxad_main with ../base/
urpmi.addmedia proxad_contrib with ../../i586/Mandrake/base/

If these command lines are executed with success you can remove the local media images using drakrpm-edit-media.
To install and remove rpms you can use drakrpm and drakrpm-remove. For updates you can use drakrpm-update.
If your network connection to the internet is slow you should avoid doing this. This is not a required step.

For Mandrake 10.1 Official/Community use the 10.1 mirrors:
urpmi.addmedia plf with
urpmi.addmedia main with media_info/
urpmi.addmedia contrib with media_info/


In my case /dev/hda6 is the swap partition. The swap partition should be 30% bigger than your physical memory to allow the suspend to disk (hibernate) to work. My lilo includes two entries to allow me to boot with the noresume option to avoid resuming in case of problems.
My lilo.conf looks like this:

    append="nolapic devfs=nomount acpi=on resume=/dev/hda6 splash=silent"
    append="nolapic devfs=nomount acpi=on resume=/dev/hda6 splash=silent noresume"

Execute lilo on a root command line window to make these settings active, after making your changes.


Edit the file /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia and change it to:

and type
service pcmcia start
on the command line to start the pcmcia service

Power Management ACPI

I use KDE KControl to control the Battery and the power settings and brightness.
Load the ACPI modules if it does not get load automatic and them start kcontrol again.
modprobe ac
modprobe battery
modprobe button
modprobe fan
modprobe processor
modprobe thermal

After making this changes you can use kcontrol, kde control center to arrange your power settings

In a nutshell, acpid appears to catch 3 events -- "power button" , "lid close" and "plug and unplug of ac adapter". Closing the screen works as the button action on the kcontrol Laptop battery module, so you can configure it to perform an action you think is adequate, when you close your screen. The power button is preconfigured to shutdown the machine. You can change these in /etc/acpi/events/ files or in kcontrol.

You need to add the "nolapic" option to allow the laptop to shutdown without getting stuck at then end of the shutdown process,. For restart you do not need this hack it works fine without this option. Apparently this disables the Local APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller). But I have no idea why this would affect the poweroff of the machine.

You can browse your local ACPI support on /proc/acpi and change the supported events scripts in /etc/acpi/ or using Kcontrol - PowerControl - Laptop Battery module.


CPU frequency modules for Intel Centrino do not work with VGN-A190 because it uses Dothan Intel processor but it should work for previsions version of this CPU. This is supposed to be fixed in kernel >= 2.6.9.


Intel(R) PRO/1000 MT Network Connection
Works fine with e1000 module driver.


Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection
I was not able to make it work yet but the driver for linux if available from Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG Driver for Linux web site but is still in a very early development phase. Some people have reported success with newer versions of this driver.

Other solution is to install ndiswrapper and then grab the windows drivers from the Windows XP hard disk/Sony installation CD or random place on the web found by google. Follow the instructions in /usr/share/doc/ndiswrapper-0.2/README. Use iwconfig to sniff out wireless hot-spots and ifup wlan0 to bring up the wireless interface.

Resume, Suspend to ram and Suspend to disk

I was not able to make suspend and resume work with the Mandrake 10 official out of the box. But there are some people, who have reported it works better under kernel 2.6.7.
Suspend to ram/Resume works better on the new Mandrake 10.1 but it's not stable for now.
Suspend to disk (Hibernate) work sometimes, and you need to have a swap partition 30% bigger than your physical memory.
Example: for a 2 GB memory, you need at least 2.6GB swap partition, to be able to hibernate. Make sure you setup this at installation time.

Video and LCD

size and rotate tool
Start Screen Size & Rotate tool from KDE Menu from "System/Configuration/Hardware/Screen Size & Rotate" to allow you to \switch resolutions in an easy way. Sometimes this tool is needed if you think the resolution is to small or to big.
3D is not working because, the Xorg drivers do not support 3D for ATI  cards yet. You need to download the linux drivers from ATI, they should work fine on Mandrake 10 which uses XFree 4.3 server. But because the Mandrake 10.1 uses the new XOrg server, the ATI drivers do not work out of the box. They will probably be available from Mandrake when 10.1 is released.

I created 3 files to control the Brightness on the command line and copy them to /usr/local/bin, but I also use the the Klaptop slider.

/usr/sbin/spicctrl -b  $((`/usr/sbin/spicctrl  -B`-30))
echo Brightness `/usr/sbin/spicctrl  -B`

/usr/sbin/spicctrl -b  0
echo Brightness `/usr/sbin/spicctrl  -B`
/usr/sbin/spicctrl -b  $((`/usr/sbin/spicctrl  -B`+30))
echo Brightness `/usr/sbin/spicctrl  -B`

Special Keys

Works fine:

- Power button, works
- mute, works
- Fn + Scr Lk, works
- Fn + Pause, works
- Fn + Break, works

Does not work:

- volume up
- volume down
- brightness button
- zoom button
- S1 button
- Fn + brightness up [F5]
- Fn + brightness down [F6]
- Fn + LCD/Monitor [F7]
- Fn + hibernate [F12]
- DVD eject key, [but you can use the eject command line utility, the eject on KDE icons, or the second small eject button on the DVD]

All the specials key, the eject button are detected by the sonypi driver has events. The sonykeyd project allows you to that allow attach programs to sonypid events (Sony key-strokes).
There is also the sonyfxd project also does the same but is last maintenance was in 2002.


Alps Wide Pointing-device for VAIO, Apls, Alps Electric
Works fine.


 CXT AC-Link Modem for Intel
 I did not spend any time to make this work, but is wintel modem.


I use alsa module snd-intel8x0.
Works fine.

Sound on the dockstation

To make the dock station speakers work I followed some instructions provided by James and Chris, but made some changes to make it easier and more user friendly. Here are the steps:

- Use the alsa drivers snd-intel8x0. You can validate this by running draksound tool.

- Force your sound to go out at 48000khz on KControl from KDE.

kcontrol sound configuration

kmix sound config

- You need to use KMix or alsamixer to un-mute "IEC958" (needs to be green) and set "IEC958 Playback AC97-SPSA" to 0 (move the slide bar to the bottom). Don't be confused (as I was) about seemingly turning off the IEC958 Playback by setting it to zero: this control is a state enumeration, not an amplitude, and we want state 0.


Alps Wide Pointing-device for VAIO, Apls,  Alps Electric
Works fine.

Extra Hardware info

Support for the keyboard special keys:

Here is a TV tuner reference about someone trying to make a sony PCG-GRT260G work with ivtv drivers.

Extra Software

Installing the Flash Media Player, Firefox and Amarok for Mandrake.

flash player
urpmi.addmedia  Macromedia with

urpmi mozilla-firefox [web browser]
urpmi flash-plugin [Flash plugin]
urpmi amarok [Multimedia Player]


XF86Config Example for XOrg server, should also work with XFree server.

# File generated by XFdrake.

# **********************************************************************
# Refer to the XF86Config man page for details about the format of
# this file.
# **********************************************************************

Section "Files"
# Multiple FontPath entries are allowed (they are concatenated together)
# By default, Mandrake 6.0 and later now use a font server independent of
# the X server to render fonts.
FontPath "unix/:-1"

Section "ServerFlags"
#DontZap # disable <Crtl><Alt><BS> (server abort)
#DontZoom # disable <Crtl><Alt><KP_+>/<KP_-> (resolution switching)
AllowMouseOpenFail # allows the server to start up even if the mouse doesn't work

Section "Module"
Load "dbe" # Double-Buffering Extension
Load "v4l" # Video for Linux
Load "extmod"
Load "type1"
Load "freetype"
Load "speedo"
Load "dri" # direct rendering
Load "/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/extensions/libglx.a"

Section "DRI"
Mode 0666

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Keyboard1"
Driver "keyboard"
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "en_US"
Option "XkbOptions" ""

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Mouse1"
Driver "mouse"
Option "Protocol" "ExplorerPS/2"
Option "Device" "/dev/mouse"
Option "ZAxisMapping" "6 7"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "monitor1"
VendorName "Generic"
ModelName "Flat Panel 1920x1200"
HorizSync 31.5-90
VertRefresh 60
# Sony Vaio C1(X,XS,VE,VN)?
# 1024x480 @ 85.6 Hz, 48 kHz hsync
# ModeLine "1024x480" 65.00 1024 1032 1176 1344 480 488 494 563 -hsync -vsync

# TV fullscreen mode or DVD fullscreen output.
# 768x576 @ 79 Hz, 50 kHz hsync
# ModeLine "768x576" 50.00 768 832 846 1000 576 590 595 630

# 768x576 @ 100 Hz, 61.6 kHz hsync
# ModeLine "768x576" 63.07 768 800 960 1024 576 578 590 616

Section "Device"
Identifier "device1"
VendorName "ATI"
BoardName "ATI Radeon (fglrx)"
Driver "radeon"
Option "DPMS"
Option "AGPMode" "4"
Option "AGPFastWrite" "true"

Section "Screen"
Identifier "screen1"
Device "device1"
Monitor "monitor1"
DefaultColorDepth 24

Subsection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1920x1200" "1600x1200" "1680x1050" "1400x1050" "1440x900" "1280x1024" "1280x768" "1152x864" "1024x768" "960x600" "800x600"

Section "ServerLayout"
Identifier "layout1"
InputDevice "Keyboard1" "CoreKeyboard"
InputDevice "Mouse1" "CorePointer"
Screen "screen1"


I want to give my thanks to the feedback I received from James, Alexander and Chris.
I did not have time to test some of their changes because my A190 was broken and I have been dealing with sony support terrible quality.

Email from chris


I would first like to thank you for posting you Mandrake HOWTO and to
report a fairly painless and stable installation of Debian Sarge on my
brandy-new A190.

Other smaller nuggets of wisdom:

I got the ipw2200 driver (v0.7) working fairly well using a custom 2.6
kernel (2.6.9-rc1) on Debian Sarge. All I had to do was follow the
directions, though it helped that I have been building my own kernels
for a couple years now.

I don't think the MemStick Slot can easily be made to work under linux.
In their infinite wisdom, TI made themselves a 3-in-1 integrated PCI
chipset (the PCI7420) that handles CardBus, 1394a, and Flash Media. All
the specifications are out there to be found on TI's web site, it just
doesn't seem anyone has picked up that ball yet.

The Parallel Port is a run-of-the-mill USB-Parallel converter based on
the Prolific PL-2305 chipset. I don't think there's a linux driver for
this yet, or at least one that's been merged with the kernel.

The remote control is just a glorified (and fairly bizarre) keyboard.
If you have all the right kernel modules installed, you can play with
the remote's buttons and see characters pop onto the screen.

The video out should work with ATI's fglrx drivers. The video in and TV
Tuner are all part of some USB2.0 device cooked up by Sony. As I
understand it, standards exist for these kinds of things, but I have
been unable to find linux drivers for it, nor is it clear to me that the
device is even cleanly integrated into MS windows.

I am now working on all the fancy little buttons (Fn+? and the
volume/brightness buttons). Also, with any luck, I will able to get the
photo sensor that Sony calls XBrite to do some automagical brightness

If/When I figure out anything else, I'll let you know.



Mandrake 10 works fine and is very stable. You do not need any special skills to make this work on this new Vaio A190/170 laptops.
The biggest problem is that it still does not support suspend/resume, hibernate and the wireless card. As always you need a good Internet connection to grab the latest updates, about 200 Mega for the Mandrake Official. This is not essential but is highly recommended.

Mandrake 10.1 is as good as Mandrake 10 in supporting the hardware. On ACPI, suspend, resume, hibernate is a little bit better than Mandrake 10 but still not very useful. The wireless card might work with ipw2200 driver, that is included in this release but I did not test it yet. If you are installing the OS again Mandrake 10.1 is a better choice because of all the updates on the kernel, software, and all the GUI clean up that was done since version 10.

This document was produced during the development of Mandrake 10.1 Community using many daily updated cooker versions, including the latest stable Mandrake 10.1 Community edition.

Other References

This report is listed at Linux on Laptops
This report is listed at TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, PDAs, mobile phones.

Other linux instalations are described on the web sites above for other distributions and other laptop combinations.


     29 July 2004 - First version for Mandrake 10 official.
30 July 2004 - Some typos corrected.
4 August 2004 - Updates to Mandrake 10.1 Alpha/Beta, everything should still work fine with Mandrake version 10 Official.
9 August 2004 - Updates to Mandrake 10.1 Beta, more info for wireless and keyboard keys.
10 September 2004 - Some feedback I got thru email but that I can't validate because my laptop broken.
20 October 2004 - Updates to Mandrake 10.1 Community, include some feedback I got thru email.
  25 October 2004 - Updates to make sound speakers work on the dockstation and updates to make the brigthness control work.
5 November 2004 - Updates on sony special keys using sonykeyd.


Luis Alves

Contact me in case of any troubles, questions, opinions, ideas...
The newest version of this document can be found on my website.

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