Thibaut Wdowiak's Blog

Install of ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx on a Sony Vaio VPCS12V5E

14 Aug 2010 // how-to

I lastly bought a brand new shiny Vaio laptop to replace my 6 years old HP. Of course it ships with window$ $even preinstalled. As I have been using Ubuntu for years, I want to use the latest version, and keep windows as a fall back solution in desperate cases. So I want dual boot. Here I go with the latest ubuntu cd. All in all, it is not that bad: everything works except the microphone. But it didn't work like that out of the box. Let me tell you:

Black screen on booting from cdrom It boots, starts to load stuff in memory, and then the screen goes black. As I understood it, it has to do with the nvidia graphics card. To get rid of that, choose nomodeset on the F6 install menu.

Black screen on next boot The next boot will be from hd. So you need to tell grub not to go graphic at ounce. Bonus: when booting in the train, you'll make a strong impression with all the text flying by. Yeah you're a hacker dude! Edit /etc/default/grub

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nomodeset"

Have the touchpad recognized Edit /etc/default/grub

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nomodeset i8042.nopnp"

Then in a terminal

update-grub

Install nvidia drivers First of all, you have to know that the screen of this computer is not well recognized by the nvidia graphics card. Somehow the card can't manage to read the EDID sent by the screen. But you have paid for this nvidia card with dedicated video memory, you have to get this working! So you have to provide the driver the correct information in a separate file. To get this file, you have to boot from the windows partition, then download a program like softmccs.

  • Click on file, save edid in .bin format.
  • Copy this file to a usb stick.
  • Then, reboot under ubuntu.
  • Add ppa repositories to get the latest nvidia drivers :
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install nvidia-185-modaliases
  • Copy/paste the edid file on /etc/X11/edid.bin
  • Then goto System > Administration > Drivers
  • Choose the nvidia proprietary driver.
  • In a shell, execute nvidia-xconfig. This will generate the xorg.xonf file.
  • Edit xorg.conf and tell the driver where the edid information is:
Section "Device"
Identifier     "Device0"
Driver         "nvidia"
VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
Option         "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP-0"
Option         "CustomEDID" "DFP-0:/etc/X11/sony_vaio_edid.bin"
EndSection

Sound not working The sound is actually not working out of the box. All you have to do is activate the backports in /etc/apt/sources.list, then

apt-get install linux-backports-modules-alsa-lucid-generic
reboot

And there you go, you can play some music.

What still does not work The internal microphone does ont work. Which is quite annoying for such a great Skype terminal. Too bad, I did not investigate any further when I understood it was a kernel module problem fixed in version 2.6.36. We are going to have to wait for ubuntu to catch up on the kernel developments.

Thoughts I thought ubuntu was supposed to be for the average Joe coming from windows or for the computer newbie. It is supposed to just work. And it is really getting better and better on that matter, but not on the newest hardware. New hardware is always what gets in the way. For people like me who absolutely want a linux box, it is not really a problem, we are going to fight our way through anyway. It can even be fun, because you get to understand some technical details. But for people who consider computers are just a tool to go shopping on the internet or on facebook... ubuntu linux still has a long way to go.