Fedora Core 6 on a Sony VGN-T350P

Introduction

I installed Fedora Core 6 onto a Sony Vaio VGN-T350P in November 2006 from the Fedora Core 6 DVD. The basic installation went fairly well, but there were a number of manual steps I needed to take to get some of the hardware working properly.

Listed below are the steps I took to get things working better than the post-installation condition.

Sound Card

By default, Fedora Core 6 recognised the Intel sound card, but nothing was coming out of the internal speakers when playing the test sound. A little bit of experimentation with alsamixer showed that toggling the external amplifier to 'off' enabled the sound.

To make this a permanent change, I edited the /etc/asound.state file:


control.28 {
  comment.access 'read write'
  comment.type BOOLEAN
  comment.count 1
  iface MIXER
  name 'External Amplifier'
  value false
}

Intel Wireless BG2200

This is ready-to-go, except for the missing binary firmware. A quick trip to ipw2200.sourceforge.net to download the v3.0 firmware was needed.

Once you have downloaded this file, you need to extract the three firmware files, which end in .fw, and put them into /lib/firmware.

$ ls /lib/firmware
ipw2200-bss.fw
ipw2200-ibss.fw
ipw2200-sniffer.fw

After this, reloading the ipw2200 module correctly loaded the firmware and basic wireless functions were available.

Screen Resolution

The Sony VGN-T350P has a 1280x768 resolution panel, but the default best-fit resolution is 1024x768 immediately after installation. There are two methods that I've found to correct this.

The easiest method is to change the X screen driver to 'intel' from 'i810'. The 'intel' driver automatically generates the correct mode settings, where the 'i810' driver doesn't.

The downside to this is that the laptop text console doesn't work after switching to the intel driver - CRTL-ALT-F1 crashes the machine, and there are a lot of horizonal bands on the screen when shutting down.

The second method is to use a program called 915resolution by Steve Tomljenovic. I downloaded version 0.5.2, and extracted the pre-built executable into /usr/local/sbin.

This runs 915resolution to override video mode 3c to be the needed resolution 1280x768. When X starts with the i810 driver, it sees this mode is a better match for the screen than 1024x768 so it uses it by default.

Note that the one caveat noted elsewhere on the internet is that changes made by 915resolution are lost when the laptop is suspended and restored. Hence neither method appears to be without a downside, but as I don't use suspend or hibernate, then I am using the second.

WPA Wireless

By default, wpa_supplicant is installed, and this is a key part of using wireless securely. Sadly, there doesn't appear to be any GUI support for configuring this from the normal Fedora Core 6 network tool, though it does support basic wireless hookups.

In order to connect to my protected wireless network, I needed to manually edit /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf, to add a section for my network.

network={
  ssid="MYNET"
  scan_ssid=1
  proto=WPA
  key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
  pairwise=TKIP
  group=TKIP
  psk="My Passphrase"
}

I also needed to edit /etc/sysconfig/wpa_supplicant to configure it to use eth1, and not wlan0 as the default interface, as the ipw2200 driver uses eth1. I also needed to change to use the wext driver, not the ndiswrapper driver.

As noted elsewhere on the internet, there doesn't appear to be a nice way to do this as a normal user.

As the next step, I configured wpa_supplicant to start automatically:

Finally, I modified /etc/init.d/wpa_supplicant to run dhclient on eth1, to avoid needing to do this by hand.

System Updates

Once the wireless hookup was working, I ran the system updates program to bring the laptop into line with any fixes since the DVD image was released.

I did notice that the text mode screen during shutdown was flickering with horizontal banding. Something to watch out for next time.

Virtual Machines

Apparently this is still a little bit incompatible with selinux, so you will need to disable it and reboot before you can play with virtual machines.

Please be very careful editing grub.conf. You can hose your machine if you do it wrong!

I also had to connect the laptop via wired networking, as Xen defaults to bridging the guest machines with eth0. If you are using wireless, this is something to bear in mind.

After this, I retried virt-manager, but I didn't have enough ram in the test system for a graphical install, which virt-manager assumes you want. Hence I followed the instructions in the FC6 Wiki for installing a guest using the xenguest-install program.

Eventually this was successful - but for a basic web server, the installer required at least 1GB of disk space. A little heavy, but it works, and I can proceed with migrating the current FC3 hosted-services onto the guest machine.

The final step was to move the 'WebServer' XML file into /etc/xen/auto for it to be started automatically, and to reduce the memory allocation to 48MB, which is plenty for a basic server running apache.

Non-Functional / Untested Things

The above gets pretty much all of the functionality I routinely use working, but there are a few things left that don't work or I haven't yet tested:


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Last Updated: 05-Nov-2006