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Ubuntu 10.10 on Sony Vaio VPCF13V5E: work in progress

My Sony Vaio VPC-F13V5E

Some weeks ago I bought a new notebook Sony Vaio F-series VPC-F13V5E which I’m going to use mainly for programming.
Its strong points are:

  • CPU Intel i5-460M
  • 6GB RAM
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 425M 1GB
  • HD 320GB 7200rpm
  • Display resolution 1920×1080
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports

Of course I immediately tried to install Ubuntu 10.10 64bit on it but I run into unexpected problems some of which I’m still trying to work out.
In this article I’m going to describe what works and what doesn’t so far.

First off, this is what worked out of the box:

  • Audio output (read on for audio input review)
  • The web camera (this was unexpected, I wouldn’t have bet a cent that it worked!)
  • Wireless card
  • Ethernet card
  • Increase/Decrease volume via Fn key

Now the sore points.

Problem #1: display resolution

After installation completed, the display resolution was completely wrong (something like 1024×768 if not lower, don’t know exactly, but surely not the one I expected). This was solved by installing the proprietary NVIDIA drivers. But then something else happened…

Problem #2: NVIDIA drivers

After booting with the new proprietary divers the display turned blank with the blinking cursor on the top left corner. This was due to the latest NVIDIA drivers not loading correctly or the X server not working correctly with these drivers (I didn’t understand actually).
This is still an open bug (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nvidia-graphics-drivers/+bug/655078) but has a temporary solution: downgrade the NVIDIA modules to version 256.53-0ubuntu3_amd64 (see bug report for the links to the deb packages).

25th December – Update

Installing the bleeding-edge drivers (provided by a PPA, not officially released by ubuntu) seems to solve the issue. Add this repository to the APT source list, update and upgrade the drivers: http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates/ubuntu. After a reboot you should see the NVIDIA logo.

Problem #3: touchpad 1/2

Touchpad didn’t work out of the box, I had to change the following parameter in /etc/default/grub from



GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash i8042.reset i8042.nomux i8042.nopnp i8042.noloop"

and then run sudo update-grub2.
This fixed the problem and after reboot the touchpad was working again (buttons, third button emulation, touchpad click and vertical scrolling).

Problem #3: touchpad 2/2

The touchpad is working but, as I discovered, it’s not detected correctly. In facts, xinput --list reports it’s an ImPS/2 Generic Wheel Mouse rather than a Synaptics TouchPad. This is quite annoying because some configuration programs (like synclient and touchpad-indicator to tell a few) don’t work at all. For example, you cannot disable the touchpad click or turnoff the touchpad when an USB mouse is pluggged in.
The issue seems to be reported in Lauchpad (https://bugs.edge.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/565543) so maybe in a near feature it will get fixed.

Problem #4: suspend

Suspendo to RAM doesn’t work, it leaves the screen blank and pressing the power button doesn’t resume it. I’ve yet to investigate about it.

Problem #5: hibernate

Same story, it doesn’t work. Maybe there’s a common reason with the suspend stuff.

14th January – Update

Thanks to Greg who pointed me to a possible solution to the suspend to ram and hibernate issues. That post is few months old but, despite the module name that changed in the meanwhile, it still holds.
You just have to create two files (/etc/pm/config.d/00sleep_module and /etc/pm/config.d/unload_module) and paste this content:
If I understood correctly, that line makes the kernel to unload the xhci_hcd module before suspending or hibernating. It’s not clear to me whether this is a temporary solution until a new kernel will fix the module, but it works (and I’m happy with it). To follow the discussion on Launchpad go to this other link: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/522998.

Problem #6: microphone

Doesn’t work yet but a fix will be included in kernel 2.6.36 (see http://code.google.com/p/vaio-f11-linux/wiki/EnableMicrophone). I’ve not much time to waste in kernel compiling so I’ll wait for the fixed version to become available.

So far so…

I’m a bit disappointed about all these problems because they reminded me the old times when I struggled to get Linux installed on new hardware and I had to wait for months before someone came out with a valid solution. Not that I cannot use Ubuntu for my projects and daily usage but for a while I really hoped I could say “I installed Ubuntu and everything worked out of the box”. The fact is these issues are not minor, these are something that prevents the average user from start (or keep on) using Linux.
Anyway, I’ll try to keep this post up to date so that it could help those who are installing Linux on this notebook.