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running ubuntu on a vaio BZ series laptop

January 18th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
! This post is pretty old.

I recently purchased a sony vaio VGN-BZ31VT. To be short, everything works for as far as I know and care.

Specs

CPU: Intel® Core™2 Duo-processor P8700 @ 2,53 Ghz
mem: DDR2 SDRAM (2 x 2 GB)
graphics: Mobile Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD

Wifi: intel wifi link 5100
audio: intel HD audio
ethernet: Intel 82567 Gigabit
bluetooth: ?  2.0 + EDR

what works

Well all the basics seem to work, the special function keys on the keyboard, the mouse pad, the screen, wifi and ethernet port.
But most importantly, suspend and hibernate also work. All of this out of the box, just install and go.

incidentally, this CPU also support intel VT, it is off by default, but you can easily enable it in the bios. If like me you use virtual machines a lot, it is rather nice to have. Haven’t done any real tests to see if it is faster, but at least it’s there.

Not tested

I haven’t tested bluetooth, don’t need it.

What doesn’t work

The laptop also has a fingerprint scanner, which with some tinkering can be used. It’s not so much a problem of hardware support it seems, but more that there isn’t a mainstream way of integrating fingerprints scanners with the security system in linux. The solution I read needs you to install some fingerprint scanning software and load that as a module in PAM. Too much work for too little gain for my taste, but if you really want it, then you can get it to work (probably).

conclusion

I wanted a no-nonsense development laptop with lots of memory and preferably virtualization support in the CPU, it should also work under linux with minimal fuss and suspend working was a must have.
Mission successful it seems.

Seeing as there is very little recent user experience info about this laptop out there at the moment, i figured i should write this little blog, if only to give people the peace of mind that you can safely buy this laptop for running linux.

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  1. Michael
    July 11th, 2010 at 06:08 | #1

    Hi,

    could you please say something about its noice? How is the fan?

  2. admin
    July 14th, 2010 at 21:41 | #2

    I of course can’t confirm that it happens with all these laptops, but seeing as a lot of people comment on it seems to indicate it is pretty much always the case, or at least mostly.

    But yes, the laptop has a annoying high pitch hum. Interestingly enough, i don’t think it is a fan problem. I think it might be a condensator.

    The sound only appears when the laptop is plugged into power (which is almost always because it won’t last very long without power, a few hours tops)
    Also, if you sit directly in front of the laptop you probably won’t hear the sound. At least that is my experience.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Eric Donkersloot
    July 16th, 2010 at 19:33 | #3

    Strangely enough, I own a BZ12XN with almost the same specs and standby does not work the first time I close the lid, and here’s why:

    ericd@vaiopro:~$ cat /proc/acpi/button/lid/LID0/state
    state: closed

    To get the internal mic working (i.e. for Skype), I had to add a line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf:

    options snd-hda-intel model=toshiba-s06

    Cheers,

    Eric

  4. admin
    July 20th, 2010 at 01:27 | #4

    Ah, I don’t exactly use the lid for sleep. I put it to sleep manually. Not sure why really. So I might actually have the same problem.

    Also I wasn’t even aware it even had a internal mic. :)
    I bought a headset for use with skype years ago, one that folds in on itself so it can be easily stuffed into a side pocket of my carrying bag.
    Also the front head/mic sockets are mighty handy as a side note.

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