Running Linux on a VAIO Z600RE


PIII-500, 128MB, 12GB UDMA, 16x CD-ROM external, FDD external, 12.1" TFT XGA

  $ lspci -vt
  -[00]-+-00.0  Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX - 82443BX/ZX Host bridge
        +-01.0-[01]----00.0  Neomagic Corporation [MagicGraph 256AV]
        +-07.0  Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ISA
        +-07.1  Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 IDE
        +-07.2  Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 USB
        +-07.3  Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ACPI
        +-08.0  Sony Corporation CXD3222 iLINK Controller
        +-09.0  Yamaha Corporation YMF-744B [DS-1S Audio Controller]
        +-0b.0  Intel Corporation 82557 [Ethernet Pro 100]
        +-0c.0  Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c475
        \-0d.0  Sony Corporation: Unknown device 808a


The procedures explained in this document worked for me, but there are no guarantees whatsoever ...


The Z600 comes with the other OS preinstalled in a 7G primary partition and a 4.5G logical partition. I defragmented the first one, then used fips (2.0) on it and removed the extended partition to make space for Linux ext2 and swap partitions.

I have used SuSE 6.4 which boots from the external CD. To recognize the CD you should enter "linux ide2=0x180,0x386" at the LILO prompt (otherwise Linux will continue to boot but complain about the absence of a CD-ROM drive later). The setup tools work w/o problems and after 20 minutes or so I had X running on the VAIO. The parameters for the CD-Drive have to be added to /etc/lilo.conf as

       append = "ide2=0x180,0x386"

By now (October '00) I have upgraded the system to SuSE 7.0. The upgrade went very smoothly. After installing the XFree86 4.0 Server modules by hand the SuSE tool SAX2 generated the new configuration files. Only the additional options for the wheel of the USB-mouse had to be added to /etc/X11/XF8config by hand:

     Section "InputDevice"
       Driver        "mouse"
       Identifier    "USB-Mouse"
       Option        "Device"        "/dev/input/mice"
       Option        "Protocol"      "IMPS/2"
       Option        "Buttons"       "5"
       Option        "ZAxisMapping"  "4 5"

fine tuning

With VESA framebuffer support compiled into the kernel you may want to replace the line "vga=normal" by "vga=791" in /etc/lilo.conf for a nice 1024x786x16 text console.

The access time to the hard disk (measured with "hdparm -tT /dev/hda") is greatly improved by

     $ /sbin/hdparm -d1 /dev/hda

which puts the chipset into UltraDMA mode. You may want to add this command to the file boot.local in /sbin/init.d/ (for SuSE 7.0 this is taken care of in the idedma-script).


Since release 0.5.8 ALSA provides a driver for the Yamaha Sound chip (rpm's are on the SuSE-server). alsaconf generates the following entries in /etc/modules.conf:

     alias char-major-116 snd
     alias snd-card-0 snd-card-ymfpci
     alias char-major-14 soundcore
     alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
     alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
     alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
     alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
     alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
     alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss
     options snd snd_major=116 snd_cards_limit=1\
	 snd_device_mode=0660 snd_device_gid=17 snd_device_uid=0
     post-install snd  alsactl restore

For sound to work you need to disable the PnP-OS option in the BIOS (to enter the BIOS setup press F2 at boot time).


Although there were successful reports on use of USB mice (see links below) when I first got the VAIO one of the unsolved problems appeared to be how to access the (USB) floppy. First thing to make the usb-uhci modules load is to set the BIOS option "PnP OS" to NO (to enter the BIOS setup press F2 at boot time).
[ Note that with this option Windows will refuse to boot. A hack of the Linux kernel > 2.3.99-pre6 allowing to use USB with "PnP OS" set to "YES" is discussed here. ]
After that the driver initialized and appeared to recognise something, but the usb-storage module couldn't be loaded since the SCSI driver (compiled into the 2.2.14-kernel shipping with SuSE 6.4) refused to talk to it.

As of writing I have kernel version 2.2.19pre11 up and running with the PCMCIA Card Services v3.1.24. Sound is provided by the ALSA driver v0.5.10b. USB support is in the kernel since version 2.2.18, before you had to patch with a backport from the 2.4 tree, found on the USB-site). Most things work fine, I can use the USB-Wheelmouse (modules hid, mousedev) and access the floppy as /dev/sda (module usb-storage).

memory stick

According to a note on the Z505 sourceforge-pages the memory stick on the newer VAIOs can be mounted just like the floppy as a SCSI-disk after loading the usb-storage module. I don't have a memory stick at hand, so I can't try this. If anybody verifies this statement on a Z600, please let me know.


The VAIO has an IrDA port which (after being enabled in the BIOS) is detected by the serial driver as

   ttyS02 at 0x03e8 (irq = 4) is a 8250 
On the other hand, the findchip-utility from the irda-utils recognizes the port as
     $ findchip -v
     Found NSC PC87338 Controller at 0x398, DevID=0x0b, Rev. 2
         SIR Base 0x3f8, FIR Base 0x3f8
         IRQ = 10, DMA = 0
         Enabled: yes, Suspended: no
         UART compatible: yes
         Half duplex delay = 0 us                    
(by the way, the (default?) setting I've used in the BIOS is base=0x3e8, irq=10).
To use the IR port compile the kernel including
  • IrDA subsystem support
  • IrCOMM protocol
  • IrDA Protocol options
    • Cache last LSAP
  • Infrared-port device drivers
    • NSC PC87108/PC87338
(at least the NSC driver as a module) and add the following lines to your /etc/modules.conf:

     alias irda0           nsc-ircc
     alias char-major-160  irda0
     alias char-major-161  ircomm-tty
     options nsc-ircc dongle_id=0x09 io=0x3e8,0x3e8,0x3e8,0x3e8 irq=10,10,10,10
After rebooting the system the attempt to activate the IR port by

 $ irattach irda0 -s
fails with the message "nsc-ircc, Wrong chip version 0c".

As has been discussed by various people (on the Linux-IrDA mailling list or e.g. in this note by Jordan Ritter) the problem is the serial driver grabbing the IrDA controller. This is solved by executing "setserial /dev/ttyS2 uart none" somewhere in the startup-scripts. Now "irattaching" the IR port with the above command results in something like

     nsc-ircc, Found chip at base=0x398
     nsc-ircc, driver loaded (Dag Brattli)
     IrDA: Registered device irda0
     nsc-ircc, Using dongle: IBM31T1100 or Temic TFDS6000/TFDS6500
Now you are ready to exchange data between your VAIO and a Palm device using the command pilot-xfer or the conduit of the StarOffice suite through the device /dev/ircomm0.

jog dial

A kernel driver module and user applications to use the VAIO's jog dial can be found here. I had to change the fontname definition in the applications' source to see anything. Upon loading the module the jog dial is recognized as

    SONY Programmable Interface Controller Driver ver1.0 <>
    spic: found spic device on Bus:0 Device:59 ... initialized.


Power Management functions such as suspend or hibernate work (sound and network drivers may have to be unloaded before that, apmd_proxy takes care of this).

  • The network driver "eepro100" has to be unloaded before suspending the system.
  • A BIOS bug appears to prevent "change power" events from being reported to the APM daemon (this is also discussed on the APMD mailing-list).
  • apm reports a battery life time which is too large roughly by a factor of 4.


The ComOne MC221 Platinium Discovery Card which comes with the Z600 is a winmodem. After inserting it lspci reports it as

  $ lspci -v
  20:00.0 Communication controller: Lucent Microelectronics 56k WinModem (rev 01)
          Subsystem: Unknown device ff00:0440
          Flags: medium devsel
          I/O ports at <unassigned> [disabled]
          I/O ports at <unassigned> [disabled]
          Capabilities: [f8] Power Management version 2
According to the manufacturer it cannot be used with Linux ("this card is a host based, controller less modem").


Sony-Europe on the Z600RE

Other Linux-installations on a Z600RE have been documented by Thomas Renard, Andy Schofield. The experiences of E. Weitz with a Z505SX and W. A. Stein with a Z505HE were also particularly helpful.
More information can be found on Kenneth Harker's page on Linux on Laptops (look also for entries on the newer Z600NE) and the Z505 sourceforge pages. [de] · Linux PCMCIA · ALSA Project · Linux APMD · Linux IrDA

© H. Frahm

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Last modified: Tue Feb 27, 2001