Linux (Ubuntu 7.04) Sony VGN-SZ330P Laptop

Author / Автор: Sergey Satskiy
Publication date / Опубликовано: 16.06.2007
Version / Версия текста: 1.2


July 9, 2007. How to skip file system checks at the startup time.

June 17, 2007. Built-in camera works. A chapter is added; some changes are done as well.


Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T7200, 2.0GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB
Video Hybrid: NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. There is a socket to connect an external monitor.
Hard Disk Drive 120 GB, 5400, G-Sensor
Optical Drive DVD+R Double Layer/DVD+-RW
LCD Screen 13.3'' WXGA TFT with XBRITE technology 1280x800
Sound Sony Sound Reality, microphone
Modem Integrated V.92/V.90 Modem (RJ-11)
Ethernet 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet
Wireless Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11a/b/g, GPRS modem
Interfaces 2xUSB 2.0, Memory Stick, PCMCIA - Type II/Type I, Express Card, IEEE 1394, разъем VGA out
Camera Built-in camera
Action Buttons S1, S2, Stamina/Speed, Wireless On/Off
Pointing Device Touchpad
Additional Equipment Biometric Fingerprint Sensor, TPM module
Memory Cards 5-1memory card adaptor supporting memory stick, memory stick pro, SD, xD-Picture Card, MMC Card


There are no disks with any software supplied with the laptop. A copy of MS Windows XP Professional and all the required drivers are located on a hidden partition on the hard disk drive. The partion is located at the very beginning of the disk and its size is about 4 gigabytes. Sony provides a way to copy a content of that hidden partition onto DVD disks. It could be done running start -> all programs -> VIAO Recovery -> VIAO Recovery Tools -> Create Recovery Disks. Two DVD disks are required and Sony recommends using the best quality disks available.

As soon as the hidden partition is copied onto DVD disks it becomes unecessory to keep a copy on the hard disk drive. The hiddin partition could be deleted safely. If the partition is deleted the system (MS Windows) restore feature by pressing F12 at the startup time will not work however the system can be restored from the DVD disks.

Now using Partition Magic utility the following could be done:

  • To delete the hidden partition
  • To reduce the size of the MS Windows partition to ~20 gigabytes
  • To move the MS Windows partition to the hard disk drive beginning
  • To create a logic partition FAT32 of ~74 gigabytes


At the moment of installation Ubuntu 7.04 beta was available. A setup disk was downloaded from the Ubuntu site ( A manual disk patitioning was selected during the installation. About 20 gigabytes were reserved for Linux and ~3.5 gigbytes were reserved for a swap partition. The final partitioning looks as follows:

root@swift-laptop:~# fdisk /dev/sda

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 14593.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
   (e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sda: 120.0 GB, 120034123776 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 14593 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1            2551       11475    71690062+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda2   *           1        2550    20482843+   7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3           11476       14107    21141540   83  Linux
/dev/sda4           14108       14593     3903795   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda5            2551       11475    71690031    b  W95 FAT32

Partition table entries are not in disk order

Working Equipment

Equipment Description
WiFi It works out of the box. The only thing which I did is switching off the IPv6 protocol. Personal feeling is that web pages loading became a bit faster.
Video Both video cards work out of the box. Each card requires individual xorg.conf file file proper opration. A description of how to do it is given below in a separate chapter. External monitor connection was not checked. An update manager offered to update nVidia drivers at some stage and it was accepted. No difference before and after was noticed.
Touchpad It works out of the box. I did not like its default sensitivity so some changes were made in the corresponding section of the xorg.conf.
DVD drive It works out of the box.
USB It works out of the box. It was tested on a USB 2.0 Flash drive of 2 gigabytes capacity.
Bluetooth It works out of the box. It was tested on a Bluetooth mouse Genius Navigator 900.
Express card It works out of the box. It was tested on an SD card of 1 gigabyte capacity connected via memory card adapter. The card adapter is supplied with the laptop.
PCMCIA It works out of the shelf. It was tested on a two USB 2.0 ports board of nonamed manufacturer.
Camera It works. It is required to compile and install a driver. See a special chapter for details.



A default initrd file supplied by Ubuntu is about 6 megabytes. The file could be cut considerably. In order to do it the following steps should be done:

  • The existed initrd should be unpacked
  • The necessary changes should be done
  • The modified content should be packed
  • The grub configuration file should be modified

Copying and unpacking of the existed initrd.img:

root@swift-laptop:~# mkdir /home/swift/tmp
root@swift-laptop:~# cd /home/swift/tmp
root@swift-laptop:/home/swift/tmp# gzip -dc < /boot/initrd.img... | cpio -i

Now the changes can be done. For example some not used modules can be safely deleted.

Packing changes into a new initrd.img:

root@swift-laptop:/home/swift/tmp# find . | cpio --quiet --dereference -o -H newc | \
   gzip -9 > /boot/myinitrd.img

To check the myinitrd.img the grub configuration file (/boot/grub/menu.lst) can be extended with one more entry with a new myinitrd.img. Reboot and check if the new initrd works fine.


Each mode (stamina and speed) requires its own xorg.conf configuration file. This problem could be resolved as follows:

Create the /etc/init.d/xorg.conf file:


VIDEO=`/usr/bin/lspci | grep -c nVidia`

if [ "" = 1 ]; then
    rm -rf /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    ln -s /etc/X11/xorg.conf.speed /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    rm -rf /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    ln -s /etc/X11/xorg.conf.stamina /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Change rights to executable:

root@swift-laptop:/etc/init.d# ll xorg.conf 
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 259 Apr 21 20:26 xorg.conf

Create a symbolic link to that file in the /etc/rc2.d:

root@swift-laptop:/etc/rc2.d# ll S12xorg.conf 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 21 Apr 22 15:12 S12xorg.conf -> /etc/init.d/xorg.conf

Now copy into the /etc/X11 two files: xorg.conf.stamina for an Intel chipset graphics card and xorg.conf.speed for nVidia card.

The proper configuration file will be used at the startup time. A reboot is required to change the current video card similar to MS Windows case.

Touchpad settings are tuned in the xorg.conf files to make the touchpad sensitivity more comfortable. The keyboard layout is switched by Ctrl+Shift key combination. The Russian layout is indicated by the Caps Lock led.

Bluetooth Mouse

A Genius Navigator 900 bluetooth mouse was used. The description of the required settings is given here "postfactum" i.e. everything was done at first and then described some later. Therefore some details could be missed on not absolutely precise.

It is necessary to have the bluez-utils packet installed.

First of all run the Bluetooth devices scanning:

swift@swift-laptop:~$ hcitool scan
Scanning ...
        00:16:38:E2:70:5E       Genius Bluetooth Mouse

Before scanning it is necessary to push the "connect" button on the mouse. The most important information here is the device MAC address.

Add to the end of the /etc/bluetooth/hcid.conf file a new device description (use the discovered MAC address):

device 00:16:38:E2:70:5E {
    name "Navigator 900"

Now modify the /etc/default.bluetooth file so that it has the following lines:

# start bluetooth on boot?
# compatibility note: If this variable is not found bluetooth will
# start

############ HIDD
# To have Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support, get the
# Linux 2.6.6 patch or better from, and set
HIDD_OPTIONS="--connect 00:16:38:E2:70:5E --master --server"

After rebooting the mouse will be automatically recognized by the system.

Action Buttons

Keys MS Windows Linux
Fn+F1 Switching between wireless modules modes. Nothing happens.
Fn+F2 Mute Mute
Fn+F3 Volume down Volume down
Fn+F4 Volume up Volume up
Fn+F5 Brightness down Brightness down
Fn+F6 Brightness up Brightness up
Fn+F7 Switching external monitor mode. Nothing happens. I'll get back to this as soon as I buy a monitor.
Fn+F10 Magnifying glass mode Nothing happens. To be honest I don't see any sense in this feature.
Fn+F12 Hibernating Hibernating. There is a problem here. If the laptop was hibernated when it was connected to AC power then it was disconnected from AC adapter and the it was switched on again the OS hangs after a couple of minutes work. If you do not do this fancy adapter stuff the feature works fine.
S1 Programmable key Nothing happens
S2 Programmable key Nothing happens
Stamina/Speed Switching the current video card. A reboot is required to activate changes. Nothing happens
Wireless On/Off Wireless modules on/off. Wireless modules on/off.
Closing lid Switching to the sleeping mode It blocks the current session


It is necessary to compile and install a driver. The driver can be downloaded from here: I used the version 0.10.0. The installation procedure is described in details in the driver's instruction.

To make the camera module loaded automatically at the Linux start-up time the following line should be added into the /etc/modules file:


The device file /dev/video0 appears. The camera can be checked with xawtv:

swift@swift-laptop:~$ xawtv -device /dev/video0

a window similar to the following will appear:

Unnecessery Modules and Minor Details

Straight after installation the /bin/sh link was modified. By default it points not to a usual bash but to a simplified shell. So the following was done:

root@swift-laptop:~# cd /bin
root@swift-laptop:/bin# rm -rf sh
root@swift-laptop:/bin# ln -s bash sh
root@swift-laptop:/bin# cd

Unnecessery services and modules were stopped. Avahi, HP printers support etc were off in particular.

IPv6 protocol was switched off. The corresponding module ipv6 is not loaded any more.

The acpi modules loading procedure is about as follows. The acpi service configuration file dictates trying to load all the modules which are compiled for the kernel for the acpi subsystem. Due to this instruction there are messages in the kernel log that some unnecessary modules like IBM laptops support modules were tried to be loaded. In some cases unnecessary modules are loaded successfully like asus_acpi.ko. In order to avoid this it is possible to delete not required modules from the corresponding directory. I left the following modules:

root@swift-laptop:/lib/modules/2.6.20-15-generic/kernel/drivers/acpi# ll
total 196
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  8020 Apr 15 12:07 ac.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 13768 Apr 15 12:07 battery.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 11488 Apr 15 12:07 button.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  7004 Apr 15 12:07 container.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 13128 Apr 15 12:07 dock.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  7552 Apr 15 12:07 fan.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 15012 Apr 15 12:07 hotkey.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  7956 Apr 15 12:07 i2c_ec.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 38796 Apr 15 12:07 processor.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 19832 Apr 15 12:07 sbs.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 18452 Apr 15 12:07 thermal.ko
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 21068 Apr 15 12:07 video.ko

A considerable time at the system startup is consumed by the file systems checks. The largest partition on my laptop is a FAT32 one which is purposed basically for storing MS Windows files. This filesystem check can be skipped at the Linux startup time. The fsck utility is used to check the file systems state and the utility is ran with the -A key. This key makes the utility to look through the /etc/fstab file and check all the filesystems except of those which have 0 in the pass field. So it is enough to put zeros where it is necessary to skip the filesystem checks. For example my /etc/fstab looks as follows (UUIDs are reduced):

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# <file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
proc               /proc         proc    defaults                           0  0
# /dev/sda3
UUID=a5aeda75-00d7 /             ext2    defaults,errors=remount-ro         0  1
# /dev/sda2
UUID=DA58A66258A63 /media/sda2   ntfs    defaults,nls=utf8,umask=007,gid=46 0  0
# /dev/sda5
UUID=461D-67D9     /media/sda5   vfat    defaults,utf8,umask=007,gid=46     0  0
# /dev/sda4
UUID=730c32a0-e959 none          swap    sw                                 0  0
/dev/scd0      /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto                        0  0

Not Working or Not Tried Equipment

Equipment Description
Sound Does not work. There is an interesting detail here. At the X Window startup time the sound works fine - a "hello" sound is playing. After the X Window start however there is no sound at all.
Microphone Does not work
Headphone Jack Not tried yet.
Biometric Fingerprint Sensor Does not work and will not. There are rumors that Sony asked the scanner manufacturer to add some security code to all the API functions. This security code is not published and will not be.
IEEE 1394 Not tried yet
Ethernet card Not tried yet. A module is loaded successfully though.
External monitor Not tried yet
Modem Not tried yet
GPRS modem Not tried yet
Memory stick Not tried yet
TPM Not tried yet. A module is loaded successfully though.

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Last Updated: August 19, 2007
Linux On Laptops