This is a subnotebook (“ultraportable”) sold by Sony with quite a nice hardware lineup. Installing Ubuntu on it wasn’t quite easy due to graphic drivers but fear not! There is a solution that makes it work 100%, including 3D acceleration. Also, the touchpad doesn’t work at first. Doesn’t matter either, we’ll fix that too.
Issues with this laptop
- Graphics issues (wrong resolution, only VESA works)
- Touchpad doesn’t work
- Battery meter in GNOME panel doesn’t show the remaining battery power
All those issues have fixes.
Per default, the device comes with
- Intel Pentium U4500 1,2 GHZ (with two cores)
- 4 GB RAM (shared with the graphics chip)
- Intel HD graphics (doesn’t really seem to have a “model name” other than that. It’s integrated into the CPU
- 1366x768 display at 12”, also has HDMI and VGA ports
- WiFi: Atheros AR9285 (b/g/n), Ethernet: Atheros AR8131 (Gigabit)
- some 320 GiB SATA HDD
- multitouch Touchpad
- the usual other ports: Firewire, 3x USB, headphone and microphone, SD Card reader
Per default, the laptop comes with 3 Partitions already:
- /dev/sda1 9,61 GiB (rescue partition)
- /dev/sda2 100 MiB (system reserved)
- /dev/sda3 the rest (Windows 7)
When booting from standard Ubuntu installation media, the screen goes blank right at the beginning, even before the boot splash. This is due to the graphics card not being supported correctly by the kernel. What doesn’t work is Kernel Mode Setting (i.e. switching resolution etc), hence the black screen.
To install Ubuntu correctly, you will need the Alternate Installation CD. And since your laptop has 4 GiB of RAM, you will need the amd64 variant.
- Get the alternate amd64 installation ISO from the Ubuntu homepage
- Burn an installation cd or write it to usb and boot from your medium.
- On the first splash screen,
press any keyto be shown the boot options.
F6to see advanced settings and select
nomodeset. This will disable Kernel Mode Setting and allow you to see at least text.
- Installation should work self explanatory from there.
- After the reboot, you should see the standard greeter and log in.
Don’t worry if the touchpad doesn’t work. We’ll fix that later. Also, we’ll improve the screen resolution. Until then, plug in an USB mouse.
Installing another kernel
Since we disabled kernel mode switching before installation and Intel has removed User Mode Switching in their drivers, we’re running on VESA drivers that support only 1024x768. To fix that, we will have to both re-enable kernel mode switching and install a newer kernel with the appropriate drivers.
Before we install a new kernel, re-enable KMS:
gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub
In the line that starts with
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX= remove everything between the quotes. Leave the quotes where they are.
As of 2010-12-28, I had the best luck with the 2010-12-24 snapshot of 2.6.37rc3:
Install the packages you just downloaded.
Installing the latest video drivers
Add the Ubuntu X-Swat-Updates PPA:
sudo add-apt-repositry ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates; sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -u
To see your current battery capacity, you’ll need to install an updated GNOME power manager.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:brian-rogers/power; sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -u
After reboot, the new kernel and system updates will have taking care both of the graphics issues and the nonworking touchpad. The new GNOME power manager and upower packages should show the correct battery capacity, too.