LINUX on the Sony VAIO PCG-Z505HE

Picture of VAIO
William A. Stein
Last updated 16 May 2002      


This web page describes how I installed RedHat Linux 6.2 on two Sony VAIO Z505HE's. It is aimed a little more towards the beginner than the other pages on the Z505HE. After writing the first version of these directions, I completed another installation on a brand new Z505HE. I found that these instructions assume familiarity with slightly nontrivial aspects of Linux such as kernel compilation, but not too much more.

Many of the tricks mentioned below were found in the Source Forge mailing list and on Dalrymple's web page. See also Alex Stewart's excellent page.

For help or comments, please send email to Please do not send me Microsoft Windows related questions, as I don't know anything about Microsoft Windows.


There is now an easy-to-install driver for the modem that is
built in to your laptop.  I just tried it and it works.  The
drivers are here.


The jog dial also works now.  The drivers are here:


When installing the rpm for the jog dial, rpm complains
about a missing libgtk+.  I just used the --nodeps option
and sjog still worked.


Basic configuration:
Unresolved problems
System information
Shrinking the windows partition
Installing Redhat 6.2
Installing kernel 2.3.99-pre3
USB Mouse
External video
Taking It Apart (Hard Drive Upgrade)

Fine tuning:
Rearranging the keyboard

RIO 500 (via USB)
onHand wrist PC
Olympus DS-150 digital recorder
Fuji 4700 digital camera

Field Notes

Unresolved problems

I have not attempted to use the following hardware:


System information

Processor: 450 MHz Pentium III
RAM: 192MB (64+128)
Dimensions: 1.15"x10.8"x8.9", 3.75 lbs.
Display: 12.1", 1024x768 XGA (Neomagic), 2.5 MB RAM
Hard drive: 8 GB
Ethernet: Intel Ethernet Pro 100
Sound: Yamaha YMF-744B chip
Floppy: USB floppy
Modem: Conexant Winmodem
Battery: Standard Lithium Ion

Shrinking the windows partition

  1. Turn on the Z505HE
  2. The default configuration is 4GB Windows/ 4GB other. If you don't want to shrink the windows partition, then you can skip this step.
  3. Create a FIPS floppy; this is a DOS bootable floppy that contains the files restorerb.exe, errors.txt, and fips.exe, which can be found in the dosutils directory of the RedHat 6.2 CD-ROM. Test that you can boot with this floppy.
  4. Disable virtual memory
      Control Panel-->System-->Performance-->Virtual Memory
  5. Disable the screen saver
      Control Panel-->Display-->Screen Saver
  6. Run CheckDisk (1 minute) by right clicking on the c:\ icon.
  7. Run ScanDisk (20 minutes)
  8. Boot from the FIPS floppy.
  9. Follow the instructions and give 2.5GB to Windows.
  10. FIPS should work perfectly, though it exists with an error about loading COMMAND.COM. (Verify this by booting from the flopping again, and getting a directory listing on C:)
  11. Now reboot windows and re-enable the screen saver and virtual memory; windows will restart.

Installing RedHat 6.2

I installed over a network. The directions below assume that you also have access to a desktop computer, which you can connect your Z505HE to.
  1. Place a blank floppy in the floppy drive of your desktop computer.
  2. In the images directory of the CD-ROM, type
       dd if=bootnet.img of=/dev/fd0
  3. Turn on the Z505HE, with your ethernet wire connected to the ethernet port, the USB floppy drive connected, and the disk created above in the floppy drive.
  4. Hit F2 when booting up, and make absolutely certain that "Plug and Play" is turned ON in the BIOS, otherwise the ethernet card wll not be detected by the RedHat install program.
  5. Hit return at the boot: prompt. It takes 1.5 minutes to boot Linux.
  6. What type of media contains the package to be installed?
    NFS image
  7. Enter network info. (This depends on what sort of home or office network you've set up for this install. If you are not using a home network to do the install, you'll have to do something different here.)
  8. Here's what would have happened if "Plug and Play" had been turned off:
  9. It hangs, so hit ctrl-alt-del
  10. Type expert at the boot prompt.
  11. It asks for a driver disk; just say CANCEL.
  12. When the Devices window appears, select
       Intel EtherExpress Pro 100B
  13. It hangs.
  14. Remember that I've read that windows leaves the ethernet card in a strange state, and also that the ethernet card was X'd in the windows device list, I try the above procedure but from a cold boot.
  15. It hangs (I wait 1 minute).
  16. From windows the network card works perfectly.
  17. Trying Linux boot again; maybe I'll just wait longer (2 minutes).
  18. It hangs
  19. Try switching from NSF to FTP (no expert mode)
  20. It hangs immediately, so the problem is with the card being detected.
  21. Idea: turn plug and play back on in the BIOS.
    This time it works!!!
  22. Install KDE Workstation
  23. PARTITION: 2.5 GB windows, 20MB /boot, a grow-to-fit available space / partition, FOUR 127MB swap partition. (There are four swap partitions because I'm a mathematician, so I need all of the memory I can get, as large matrices often occur as a result of intermediate steps of a computation.)
  24. The mouse is a generic ps2 mouse. Do emulate 3 buttons.
  25. Over a 10Mbps local area network, it takes less than 15 minutes to install all of the RedHat packages.
  26. Skip boot disk creation, as Linux is not aware of the USB floppy drive.
  27. It's rebooting, having installed LILO without my even noticing it.
  28. Reboot and start windows, to test that the windows partition hasn't been damaged.
  29. Booting Linux -- first test.
    • Networking works with the default 2.2.14-5.0 kernel.
    • Suspend/resume works fine, even under X, but the ethernet card disappears. However, issueing the command
           su -c '/sbin/ifdown eth0; /sbin/ifup eth0'
      correctly restarts the ethernet card.
    • Suspend to disk works fine. It takes under 30 seconds to save my 192MB of RAM. Resuming takes less than 20 seconds.
  30. Replace the XF86Config file with this file or run XConfigurator.
  31. Try shutting down and booting Windows, and then warm booting into Linux. It works, but the ethernet is gone, just as the web pages warned.
  32. APM: gives bogus time, but doesn't crash machine.

Installing kernel 2.3.99-pre3

As of this writing (May 18, 2000), the newest kernel is version 2.3.99-pre8. I tried to install and configure my devices using this kernel, but ran into a number of problems. For example, my USB Diamond Rio 500 would not work, and the usb-uhci.o module crashed my system. However, upon falling back to kernel version 2.3.99-pre3, these problems went away. Thus, as of (May 18, 2000), I recommend installing kernel version 2.3.99-pre3.
  1. Obtain linux-2.3.99-pre3.tar.gz
  2. Decompress in the /usr/src directory:
        mv linux-2.3.99-pre3.tar.gz /usr/src
        cd /usr/src
        tar -zxvf linux-2.3.99-pre3.tar.gz
  3. For some reason "make xconfig" doesn't work, so I use "make menuconfig".
  4. Here is my .config file.
  5. Do
      make dep; make install; make modules; make modules_install;
    then carefully study your /etc/lilo.conf file, make appropriate modifications, and issue the command /sbin/lilo. Here's my lilo.conf file:
  6. We must create a file in /lib/modules/2.3.99-pre3 called .rhkmvtag which contains the first line of output from dmesg, after booting the new kernel.


In the kernel installation step above, we configured the kernel with the following options:

The following script can now be used to mount the floppy on /mnt/floppy. Sometimes it has to be run twice because it takes too long for the USB bus to discover the floppy, so the mount command is missed. If your floppy is ext2 formatted, make the appropriate change below.
cd /lib/modules/2.3.99-pre3

echo "Inserting USB core."
/sbin/insmod usb/usbcore.o
echo "Inserting USB UHCI hub driver."
/sbin/insmod usb/usb-uhci.o

echo "Inserting SCSI modules."
/sbin/insmod scsi/scsi_mod.o
/sbin/insmod scsi/sd_mod.o

echo "Loading USB storage module (please wait!)"
/sbin/insmod usb/usb-storage.o

echo "Telling SCSI about the USB storage device"
echo 'scsi add-single-device 1 0 0 0' > /proc/scsi/scsi  

echo "Pausing..."
echo "Mounting floppy on /mnt/floppy."

mount -t vfat /dev/sda /mnt/floppy   

echo "Type umountfloppy to unmount the floppy, when done."

WARNING: When I tried kernel version 2.3.99-pre8, I had to insert the module uhci.o instead of usb-uhci.o. When I insert usb-uchi.o, and then insert a USB device, the system HANGS. However the USB floppy does work fine if I use uhci.o, though the Diamond Rio dies.


The Z505HE contains a Yamaha YMF-744B chipset, which is not currently supported by RedHat 6.2. As of May 17, 2000, the only easy option is to buy version 393j of the
4Front Technologies OSS driver, which costs $30 (you can download a free trial version). After installing this driver, use a file containing the following two commands to turn on sound:
   /usr/bin/aumix -m 0
Without the second command, which turns off the mike, there would be an initial loud feedback sound.

Suspend/Resume problem.
With the above configuration, if I suspend then resume, then run a program that uses sound such as xmms, the program will crash and the /dev/dsp device will become inaccessible until I reboot. The best fix I found was to create a file /etc/sysconfig/apm-scripts/apmcontinue which contains the following three lines:

   /usr/lib/oss/soundoff 2> /dev/null
   /usr/lib/oss/soundon 1> /dev/null 2>/dev/null
   /usr/bin/aumix -m 0   # turn down the mic
With this fix in place, the /dev/dsp device will not become inaccessible upon resume, so long as there are no device actively using /dev/dsp when the laptop is suspended. The only program I use that uses /dev/dsp is xmms, so I only have to remember to press the stop button on xmms before suspending.

Under kernel version 2.3.99-pre3, it is essential to pipe the standard error and output to /dev/null in the apmcontinue script, otherwise the X-windows display will be drastically shifted to the right. This is because of a bug somewhere, which the following July, 1998 Linux kernel mailing list message from Allan Cox allerted me to:

  Linux is supposed not to dump stuff to the text screen in graphics modes
  and if that check has escaped then it may be an explanation. 


-- and then --

  The problem is that console output to the screen is not disabled when the
  console is in graphics mode (vc_mode != KD_TEXT). On a graphical console
  this doesn't matter because the kernel knows how to print text to it.
  With vgacon or vgafb things may go wrong.

The free ALSA sound driver may soon support this chip. UPDATE: I now use the ALSA drivers exclusively, because they seem better than the OSS drivers and are open :-). The only drawback is that they don't seem to work with my Olympus record on vmware.

WARNING: I could not install the OSS driver under kernel 2.3.99-pre8. However, the installed fine under 2.3.99-pre3.

The Alt-F4 key seems to have no effect on the volume, so one must use a program like xmixer to adjust the volume.


In the kernel configuration step, we included the APM option (not APIC!), which makes available the following commands:


For testing purposes only, I inserted my PCMCIA 10/100 Linksys Etherfast card and it worked fine.

Port replicator

No known problems. The serial port works fine.


The modem is a Conexant Winmodem which, to the best of my knowledge, is not currently supported under Linux. However, this may change, because of the project.


The only IrDA device I have is an onHand wrist computer. I don't think anyone has ever synced one of these with Linux via infrared. However, using the following message of Oscar Boykin I was at least able to see something happen when I ran irdadump.
  I have been trying to get IR working on a z505hs, and I finally
  did. Here's how: 1) the irport is seen as serial port: ttyS2 at
  0x3e8 as an 8250 and irq 4.  there are a few things wrong with this
  picture. First, irq 4 is probably not right. In my case the bios
  actually had irq 10. Second, I am told that the chip is 16550
  compatible, not 8250, so that is wrong too. But most importantly,
  you don't even want to use it as a serial port.

  step 1) setserial /dev/ttyS2 port 0x4e8. This is a hack, it is just
  to get the serial driver from locking up the io port. If
  you have a modular serial driver it is best just not to
  load it.

  step 2) edit /etc/conf.modules to include: 
  alias tty-ldisc-11 irtty 
  alias char-major-161 ircomm-tty 
  alias irda0 nsc-ircc 
  options nsc-ircc dongle_id=0x09 

  last, issue the command: 
  /usr/sbin/irattach irda0 -s1 

  Now you should have working irda. 

  This all assumes that you compiled the irda as modules and included
  the nsc-ircc driver, which is the proper driver for this

  To look at the ir-howto, and you should be able to figure it out
  from this point on. The serial driver, and irtty is a red-herring, I
  could never get that to work.

  With the nsc-ircc I could do a palm V sync by: 

  /sbin/mknod /dev/ircomm0 c 161 0 
  /sbin/insmod irda 
  /sbin/insmod ircomm 
  /usr/sbin/irattach irda0 -s1 
  /usr/bin/pilot-xfer -p /dev/ircomm0 -L 

  and after a few seconds it listed all my databases. I did not feel
  that it was very fast, but at least it works. I will not be
  experimenting with other things, sending files to windows users,
  etc. . . I have not done any trouble shooting, after a few hours I
  was just ecstatic that the laptop could see the palm and vice-versa

  I found the following links helpful: 

  Let's keep the solutions coming! 
  Oscar Boykin

External video

I have experienced no problems. However, somebody else did:

   There is a problem when using the video port.  Upon pressing
   Fn + F7 the fourth time, the display gets scrambled.
   The fix is to press Fn + F, which toggles the 
   unsynchronized mess mode on and off.


  To brighten display   Fn+F5
  To dim display        Shift+Fn+F5


I have no problems whatsoever with ethernet, using the above configuration. Note that I have plug-and-play off, so that I can use the OSS driver.

However, according to an email from David Fox, the ethernet adapters in Z505Hs with an older BIOS have problems resuming:

   Bios 116 is the one that fixes a problem with the ethernet resuming
   after suspend.  I haven't found it, I think I have 110.

   William A. Stein writes:
   > David Fox wrote:
   > > By the way, do you know what BIOS do you have on your machines?
   > BIOS Version:   RO116Z1  /  RK116Z1
   > Serial Number: 28305630-3207642   (of one of the machines)

Fine tuning

Rearranging the keyboard

Though the keyboard layout on the VAIO leaves something to be desired, it is easy to re-arrange the keys as follows.
  1. Create a file called keymap that contains the following lines:
       ! Make some substitutions...    
       !  (type xmodmap -pke for a list of keycodes)
       ! For example, the following line makes 
       ! the windows key into the `~ key.
       keycode 115 = asciitilde grave  
       ! This makes the other windows key into 
       ! the delete key.
       keycode 117 = Delete
       ! Make the ~` key into an Escape key (the 
       ! previous escape is not disabled.)
       keycode 49  = Escape
       keycode 37  = Control_L
       keycode 66  = Caps_Lock
  2. The command
       xmodmap keymap 
    then makes the above changes, at least until you restart X windoes.
  3. By placing inserting the keymap file into your .Xmodmap file, they will automatically take effect when you start X windows.

Tuning your hard disk

Here's another tip from Erez Strauss that increases hard disk performance:

The hard disk can be made about three times faster by issueing the following command.

  /sbin/hdparm -c3 -m16 -d1 /dev/hda
To make these changes permanent, put them into your /etc/rc.d/rc.local file.

Taking the Z505HE Completely Apart

This page has pictures that describe how to INCORRECTLY take apart the Z505HE. That web page claims that you must take the screen apart, but this is completely wrong. In fact, the plastic pieces on the back left and right can be popped out without removing the screen. I did this and took pictures, which you can see here.


Digital camera

I use an Olympus D340R digital camera, which communicates with my laptop via the USB port. At around $250, the D340R is simple and inexpensive, but frequently produces crisp photos, albiet not of the quality of more expensive cameras such as the Kodak DC-280. I am aware of two programs for downloading digital photos:
photopc and gphoto. For me, these programs tend to crash after downloading a few pictures, so I wrote a Perl script to repeatedly call photopc, once for each pictures. This works very well.

RIO 500 via the USB port

The Rio 500 MP3 player is
supported under Linux, as a kernel module. To insert the necessary kernel modules needed to enable communications with the RIO, I execute the following script:
  cd /lib/modules/2.3.99-pre3/usb
  /sbin/insmod usbcore
  /sbin/insmod usb-uhci
  /sbin/insmod rio500


I ported some software from the Japanese version of this watch, so now there is
some support for the onHand PC under Linux.

Olympus DS-150 digital recorder

There seems to be absolutely no Linux support whatsoever for the Olympus DS-150 digital recorder, or the files it produces, under Linux. The only solution I've found is to run Windows 98 under

WARNING: It seems that the Olympus DS-150 playback software does not work under vmware version 2.0, at least with my version of Windows 98. I instead use version 1 of vmware, which works fine. UPDATE! There was a problem with the real-time clock. I installed Linux 2.4.0 with the real-time clock option in the kernel turned on. I then installed the ALSA sound drivers and VMware-2.0.3-799. Playback of DS-150 .dss files worked perfectly.

Fuji 4700 digital camera

my Fuji 4700 page.

Field Notes

Missing Key

From: William Stein 
To: "john" 
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 12:29:40 -0500
On Monday 28 October 2002 10:40 am, you wrote:
> my name is john
> was just searching for spare parts for my sony z505-je notebook and came
> across your site
> i have a key missing from it ( the FN) key, second key from the left at the
> bottom
> just wondered if you knew where i could get one from?

I have no idea.  Many of the keys are interchangeable; maybe you could
use your menu key, which is just to the right of the alt key on the
right side of the space bar, as a Fn key.  This would make sense if
you use your Fn key a lot, but never use the menu key (e.g., I never use
my menu key).

 -- William

Hard drive remark

From: William Stein 
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 13:58:24 -0400

On Friday 25 October 2002 12:00 pm, you wrote:
>    Apparently they can't find the disk you mentioned in stock
>    anywhere. Do you have a suggestion as to where to look? Or should I
>    just get another disk?
>   Thanks for your help,

Any 9.5mm 2.5inch laptop drive should work in the VAIO; it's very

I recommend getting a Toshiba that is at least 40GB, since they're
quiet.  Fujitsu's suck.  It probably doesn't matter if the model is
exactly the same as the model for mine.  Also, if they say they can
get a certain model, try to find a review or opinion about it on the
web to see if it is decent.
 -- William

Hard drive death!

Date:  Mon, 21 Oct 2002 15:17:10 -0400

On Monday 21 October 2002 02:15 pm, you wrote:
>   Guess what, my Vaio's disk died last weekend... We tried to
>   repartition it with the syst adm here to no avail. Could you please
>   tell me what of new disk did you put in yours? I remember when you
>   were going to change it. Also do you have suggestions for changing
>   it? The sys adm will try to so it himself but he, of course, can't
>   guarantee what the result could be and any help could be useful!

It's easy to do if you are VERY CAREFUL.  It is necessary to take the
laptop completely apart, but fortunately I made complete illustrated
directions about how to do this:


WARNING: There are other illustrated directions on the internet for
taking the Z505 apart, but they are wrong.

I first put a Fujitsu 10GB drive in my computer, but it SUCKED,
because it was incredibly loud.  I took that one out, and put a huge
Toshiba MK4018 40GB 9.5mm 2.5inch drive in, which is wonderful.  You
should be able to buy such a disk for less than $200.

   -- William

Weird X crash

From: Kevin Buzzard

A warning. I went to London and was using my laptop there, after bashing it around on the train journey, and to my surprise, after about an hour's use, X seemed to crash in a really interesting way: the LHS 50% of the screen became lots of bright coloured lines, and the RHS was just about readable but there was still lots of interference. I switched to a text console and was slightly disturbed to find that this was also full of coloured squares! But on the other hand things were still clearly "working" in the sense that I could type commands like startx and go back into broken X. I remarked to the friends I was with that this was the worst I'd ever seen linux crash on my machine, and rebooted. Imagine my horror when I got the SONY screen with the 1 second of music and the "warp" from SONY to VAIO but the screen was _still_ all wrong, much too colourful with white and orange small dots everywhere. I booted up Windows and it was just as weird. Ugh, I thought, and wondered whether I was still under warrenty. I figured that there was very little I could do, but fortunately a brief inspection of the machine showed me that in fact very little needed to be done: the "unlock" switch on the battery was half-switched over, and the battery was slightly out of place, not quite as connected as it should be, resulting in the machine continuing to operate but with not enough power (presumably) to drive the graphics card. Pushing the battery back in solved the problem instantly. Just to let you know that this can happen :-) I was terrified for about a minute!


Melted Screw

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000 12:54:13 +0100 (bst)
From: Kevin Buzzard 
Subject: My computer is broken

My computer is a little bit broken. Imagine there were 4 screws somehow holding the keyboard fixed, and imagine if the top right hand one came out. Then every time you pressed the backspace key, the entire top right hand area of the keyboard would go down about 1.5 mm until it hit something in the box, so backspace would make a much bigger "clunk" than all the rest of the keys and also whenever you hit it, you'd be smashing something important underneath the keyboard. Well, that's what seems to have happened to my computer. I dunno about the explanation, but certainly the symptoms are happening (the top RH part of the keyboard goes down 1.5 mm whenever I press it). What the hell do I do next? Take it apart, phone someone up, or take it to a computer shop or what? Is it under warrenty? Kevin

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 16:57:36 +0100 (bst)
From: Kevin Buzzard 
Subject: Keyboard problem---fixed (I think)

OK, so I took those magic 11 screws out of my computer. I did this by buying a screwdriver, getting Tamzin to look after Joel, turning my computer off, closing the lid, removing the battery, turning the computer upside-down so that I could see the 11 screws, and then starting. The orientation of the computer when I turned it upside-down was such that the words "LOCK" and "UNLOCK", referring to the places which lock/unlock the battery, were upside-down. I dismantled from left to right, so the first screw I removed was quite near the headphone/mike outputs, the ninth was by the button which rotates but doesn't do anything, and the tenth was by the power-on switch. This brings us to the 11th, which floored me for a while because I couldn't get it out for a good few minutes! The 11th screw is the one near the ethernet-or-whatever-it-is input and the fan. I didn't want to push down too hard because I didn't want to smash the screen of the monitor; on the other hand, I seemed to be destroying the screw at the beginning---ruining the screw head instead of rotating it, which didn't look so great. After a while I got it to budge but even then it was non-trivial to get it out: even after the initial movement, the screw did not move freely. After some coaxing I got it out. The screw was clearly different from the others: it was blackened at the bottom and was obviously slightly damaged. Having done all this I was interested in the state of the keyboard so I kept the computer turned over and opened up the monitor. I don't recommend this: the monitor opened and the keyboard fell out onto the table, together with a piece of metal. Having cursed my stupidity at not guessing that things perhaps would not be as joined together as usual after having removed 11 screws, I decided not to take the back of the computer off, but to leave it in the state it was. I turned the computer over and worked out what had happened. The piece of metal appeared to be a heat sink and the word "UP" was written on it; I was now sitting with the computer opened and oriented as if I were using it. I put the piece of metal back so that the word UP was face up and upright :-) and it fitted nicely over two chips. Now the computer looked normal, except the pieces of plastic on the sides were kind of falling out, and the keyboard was off. My first piece of relief was that I realised that I had misguessed what was happening: underneath the delete and backspace keys there was *nothing* important at all that I was continually bashing whenever I pressed them; there was just plastic/metal/whatever it is. So I realised that I probably hadn't (yet) done the computer any damage unless I'd damaged the keyboard (I was worried that when the keyboard was "loose", I was smashing into a chip or something, whenever I pressed the delete key). >From the bottom of the keyboard it was clear that the troublesome 11th screw was holding the keyboard _down_ and that in fact the reason the keyboard was "giving" slightly at the top RH corner was that it was about 1mm too _high_. I then simply put everything back together, exactly as it had originally been, except that I put the damaged screw in the unique hole which could reasonably be called "the middle hole" and I put the screw from the middle hole back into the RH centre hole, the one near the fan. Then the keyboard was back to normal and the computer seems to work fine, and the problem looks solved to me.

My conclusion: leaving my VAIO on for about 10 days straight computing modular forms and hence processing _hard_ has kept the fan on "high power" and has kept the computer running slightly hot (start up a long and complicated magma calculation, leave it for a while, and then kill it and listen: the speed at which the fan is going decreases noticeably!). Not only did we have this 10 day marathon; I have basically left my VAIO on doing very CPU-intensive things ever since the 26th June or so, which was about 3 weeks ago, only rarely switching it off---usually it's on all day and all night. The resulting heat seems to have mildly damaged this 11th screw with the result that it wasn't holding the keyboard down correctly any more. Perhaps in retrospect, if I'd known this was the problem, I would have just removed this one screw and put in a new one. It frightens me slightly though: if this is the damage caused to a screw by leaving the computer on for 3 weeks, what else have I damaged? There is in fact no indication that I've damaged anything else, and the screw was only mildly "charred", it wasn't completely melted or anything, but it was distorted enough to make it hard to remove.

I am now in a slight quandary: I really want to leave my VAIO on all the time, but I don't want to damage it any further. What do you think?


Sound card fell out (A little adventure in Paris)

Subject: A little adventure in Paris...
From: "William A. Stein" 
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 06:36:31 +0000

I spent Saturday working on research in my hotel room in Paris. You would think nothing interesting might happen, but something interesting did. I was using my new laptop to listen to mp3's when suddenly the left speaker died. By pressing on the speaker, it seemed to work for a moment. Then it totally died. Then the right speaker died too! Argh! However, the headphone jack still worked, so I used headphones for a while. Then the headphone jack died as well. I'm in the middle of a long professional trip, which depends heavily on my laptop working and it has just broke.

I swear to myself that I won't take apart my laptop and try to fix it. I don't want to break it any worse, as I depend on it. Also I don't have any tools like a solder iron. Then I spy the knife my dad gave me as a graduation gift, and my resolve breaks. I take apart the computer carefully, and poke around for a while. I discover a wafer-thin card below where my left palm usually sits while typing, and it seems loose. It is not plugged in well! I plug it in harder, and start the computer up. Sound works! It works so well I hear fireworks outside.

Fireworks. I peer out the window and see a giant fireworks display in southeast Paris. -- William

Another Sound card fell out

sony vaio sound card fallout
From: Samuel DeWitt Montgomery-Blinn 
 Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 02:52:28 +0000

just wanted to drop a note thanking you for your web page.

my wife's Z505JS started having weird sound problems - the internal speakers didn't work, but the headphones worked fine. then the headphones stopped working too... and a web search (google of course) led me to your page and your 'note from paris'.

it helped me fight the fear of wreaking havoc on the little parts of the vaio and start hacking into it. sure enough, part of the sound card came unplugged and after pushing it back in, everything was great.

also, at least on her vaio, you can unplug the keyboard by releasing a little lock and move it out of the way.

however a couple tiny little tabs became broken - perhaps a 'howto' of vaio disassembly would be in order?

  1. note these directions are for sony vaio z505js. if you follow them and break your computer/electrocute yourself don't come crying to me.
  2. unscrew all bottom screws.
  3. raise monitor and lift back of keyboard.
  4. release keyboard lock and put keyboard out of harm's way.
  5. unscrew the screw which the keyboard had been hiding underneath near the center of its top.
  6. open the monitor all the way, so the laptop is fully opened.
  7. press the bottoms of the small pieces covering the monitor hinge and pull them up and out.
  8. slide each of the speaker cover panels to the side.
  9. unscrew the screw next to each speaker.
  10. gently lift the panel - be careful of
    1. speaker wires
    2. touchpad connector
    3. monitor connector
    4. anything else dangling between your panel and the motherboard
  11. underneath where your left hand sits while typing is a small riser board which has probably either completely or partially come out of its socket. gently push it back in.
  12. put it all back together.

i wish i had brought my webcam home from work to document the process. there was some interesting hardware in there!

thanks again for your page, i found it very helpful.


Recreating the Hibernation File and Partition

Re: my win disk
From: Kevin Buzzard 
To: "William A. Stein" 
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 21:37:19 +0100 (BST)

> Are there notes somewhere that summarize what you did?

Unfortunately, what I did was surely a superset of what needed to be done.

I can simply tell you the relevant parts though, and you can edit them if necessary.


The problem I had, I caused myself. To cut a long story short, I deleted the Win95 FAT32 partition on my VAIO because I was finding that I was simply never booting into windows, and I reformatted it as a linux partition. As a result, suspend-to-disk ceased to work. There are web pages explaining why this slightly annoying thing happens, for example

and this page also contains a lot more useful hints than this brief description below, anyone who is interested and has some time to spare should surely look there.

I didn't have too much time to spare, and wanted a fix. My first fix, which I lived with for about a year, was the following: I used fdisk to create a Win95 FAT32 partition, which happened to be /dev/hda1, I then umounted it (I suspect I should have done this rather earlier), formatted it under linux by typing

# mkdosfs -F 32 /dev/hda1
(of course, don't type this word for word if your FAT32 partition happens to be /dev/hdan for some n>1! In fact, if you don't know what you're doing, don't use things like mkdosfs or fdisk at all until you've read at least the man pages!), I made the partition bootable (again using fdisk), I probably rebooted the machine several times during this process out of paranoia, and then the coup de grace, I mounted /dev/hda1 on /win, I ftp'ed a copy of a friend's save2dsk.bin from the internet, and put it in /win . I can't remember whether I re-ran /sbin/lilo, and don't know enough about what I'm doing to know whether this is necessary.

The upshot of all this was not 100% satisfactory---suspend-to-disk *usually* worked, but sometimes after a suspend my machine would not reboot---it would nearly resume but would get stuck with one red square left and hang forever. The sole purpose of this note is to explain what I did to attempt to get around this, but it's slightly ridiculous that I'm writing it now because I've only suspended to disk twice since then and hence have no real data to suggest I've fixed the problem.

What I did was simply followed the golden rule---if you want to create and format a DOS partition, do it from within DOS. Perhaps the only reason this note exists is that this was a little harder than I expected. The first time I tried this, I booted my VAIO from a dos disc that had been created using a Windows 95 machine. This is no good---the format command doesn't know about FAT32. DOS fdisk reports the partition as being "unknown" and if one formats it, one gets FAT16. This is not good enough.

So I used a newer dos disc, but by that time the problems had started. Linux thought that the partition was FAT32 and DOS thought it was FAT16, and no amount of rebooting would fix this.

The fix to the above problem was: I booted into linux, formatted the darn partition using mkdosfs -F 32, rebooted into DOS and then formatted it *again* using DOS format. I then booted back into linux, copied save2dsk.bin over, and, well, it didn't work, but I knew I was close. I re-ran lilo, probably un-necessary, and then I noticed that I had not got /dev/hda1 marked as bootable. Fixing this did the trick. By the way, permissions on save2dsk.bin seem to be irrelevant, as does creation date etc. Also, a major word of warning, if you take a friends' save2dsk.bin and run it through the strings command, all sorts of stuff comes out, things that your friend typed months ago etc. So be warned, there's a lot more in that file than you might think.

Anyway, even though I can't say with 100% certainty that I've fixed the problem, I have noticed a huge difference with suspend-to-disk: it's now much much quicker! I don't know what linux did when it formatted /dev/hda1 as FAT32 but I certainly believe now that it didn't do it very well.

> Could you time it?  It would, of course, be interesting to know if
> your suspend to disk is considerably faster than mine.

I think it's a red herring. The first time I suspended, I did it just after changing the partition table a bit with fdisk (making /dev/hda1 bootable) and rebooting, and the moment I got a prompt (in text mode) I suspended. I just rebooted and tried again. t took about 10 secs to switch to the blue-green screen with the 3 red lines in it, but then only 4 seconds to suspend! Before I rebooted I suspended a couple of times more, and both times it took about 10 secs to get to the blue-green screen and then 34 more seconds to suspend or so. So it's probably to do with the fact that memory is much cleaner after a reboot. Try suspending just after a reboot though, it's pretty surprising!


Installing a New Hard Disk

From: Nick Sayer 
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 15:02:21 -0700 (PDT)
> I'm glad you found them useful.  If you wrote a paragraph or so
> describing how you upgraded your hard disk, other people might find
> that useful.  For example, exactly what hard disk did you install?

It appears that thickness is an issue. I used an IBM Mobilestar 20G. I
think the IBM 2.5" disks are the only option. :-(

> Were there any problems?

No. I toasted my old drive trying to connect it to my desktop machine, but
that's beyond the scope of this conversation. :-)

> Did you reinstall the operating system from
> scratch?

Actually from backups, but I'm running FreeBSD, so that procedure would be
unlikely to be of significant interest to your audience. :-)

Unresolved problems

I have not attempted to use the following hardware:

Contact info

Email me at with questions or comments. I will add any interesting solutions we find to this web page.