Fedora 3 and a Sony Vaio VGN-S3HP
Linux on Laptops

I have installed Fedora Core 3 on a Sony Vaio VGN-S3HP. The information herein, I think, is also relevant for anyone with a S3 machine as the main hardware is the same.

Please note that that I DO NOT give any warranty on the information contained below. If you computer doesn’t work after you have used the following then tough. However everything here is what I have tried and tested myself !

Firstly the machine comes with three partitions. The first is a system restore partition which contains all the Windows XP files together with all the software that Sony sell with the machine. Next we have the NTFS primary Windows partition, and finally a D drive using the rest of the space on the hard disk.

The machine, under XP, will remind you to create a DVD will all the files to restore the system. DO THIS!! Sony do not supply software on CD nor DVD and as such it is your responsibility to make the DVD (or CDs) yourself. Check the Sony documentation on the procedure to do this under XP.

Installing Linux

I firstly created a DVD copy of the ISO DVD file of the Fedora 3 core. Booting from this will start the Fedora installation.

During install I used Disk Druid to partition the drive. I decided to delete the system restore partition (approx 7Gb) and use this for my Linux partition. I setup 6Gb as the basic ext3 partition and the rest for a swap partition. Note if you have not created a DVD copy of the Vaio restore partition you will not be able to reinstall windows in the future !!! You can of course delete the extended NTFS partition and use that to install both Linux and have the rest for NTFS. Doing this will keep your restore partition in case needed in the future.

After completion of the installation the Grub loader will allow you to load either Windows XP or Fedora.

X Windows

The video card included in this Vaio is an nVidia GeForce Go 6200. Download and install the nVidia Linux driver : http://www.nvidia.com
The install is seamless and will then allow hardware acceleration of the card to be used in X.

As standard X will run in 1024 x 768 mode. This is great but does not use the full screen capacity (1280x800) of the Vaio. After much googling, I found the correct ModeLine which will allow the full screen to be used.

ModeLine "1280x800" 87.09 1280 1336 1616 1728 800 802 814 840

The relevant sections of my /etc/X11/xorg.conf are included below; note this needs the nVidia driver to be installed already !

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier "Monitor0"
    VendorName "Monitor Vendor"
    ModelName "LCD Panel 1280x800"
    HorizSync 31.5 - 90.0
    VertRefresh 60.0 - 60.0
    Option "dpms"
    ModeLine "1280x800" 87.09 1280 1336 1616 1728 800 802 814 840

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Videocard0"
    Driver "nvidia"
    VendorName "nVidia"
    BoardName "GeForce Go 6200"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Screen0"
    Device "Videocard0"
    Monitor "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth 24
    SubSection "Display"
    Viewport 0 0
    Depth 24
    Modes "1280x800"

Section "DRI"
    Group 0
    Mode 0666

Wireless card (Intel IPW 2200)

There is a driver for this card available in the 2.6.11 kernel. Simply connect a cable to the Ethernet port and you should be able to boot directly onto the Internet. Next use up2date to download the updates for the new kernel and anything else available.

After this has been completed, reboot the machine. This will then recognise the card but it will not function !!

You will now need to install the firmware for the card. These are available from : http://ipw2200.sourceforge.net/

First install the firmware into /lib/firmware

After rebooting the card should be recognized and you should not have any errors of the driver not finding the firmware files. If you do have this error then edit the file /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1 and change the ONBOOT value to ‘no’. Rebooting should now get the card functioning.

In Gnome, open a terminal window and type ‘NetworkManagerInfo &’. This will add the icon to the side of the clock and start to search for wireless networks. Let it find your AP, clicking it will then ask for your WEP password. Type this in and you should now be on the Internet ;-)

Note that I needed to use 'WEP Hex key' to type in my WEP password.

Sound card

This was probably the most difficult because of the complete lack of any documentation. When I look now, it is actualy remarkably simple to get working.

Windows XP reports the card to be a Realtek High Definition audio card. There is a driver available on the Realtek web site (http://www.realtek.com.tw) however the documentation provided is unclear at best. Note that the card is also referred to as an Intel High Definition audio card !

Download the Realtek driver from their web site (linux_r31.zip). Unzip and then go into the directory alsa-driver-1.0.4. Note that make will crash when trying to compile. I then told ‘configure’ just to compile the relevant audio driver which worked ! :

./configure -–with-cards=azalia
make install
(this makes the /dev entries)

Next edit your /etc/modprobe.conf file and add the following lines, make sure you put them at the top of the file, if not the card sometimes fails to initialise at boot time :

alias char-major-116 snd
options snd major=116 cards_limit=1
alias snd-card-0 snd-azalia
options snd-azalia index=0 id="Azalia"
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

Reboot and you should have full audio !


There are a lot of needed additions to this document, but I hope in the current format it helps others at least to get the basics up and functioning.

Paul Taylor - 11/04/2005
(Note I will try and help if time allows, if you don’t receive a reply I apologise in advance as I am very overworked.)