Linux on the Sony Vaio PCG-F807K notebook
Summary and disclaimer The short story is that I have
successfully installed RedHat with XFree86 from CD-rom on this machine
alongside Windows 2000. I am not expert with Linux, my previous
experience being limited to getting RedHat running on a desktop last
year. Please remember that in what follows!
This is a Sony "Europe-only" model. Whether it is identical to something sold elsewhere under a different model number, I don't know. It has a 12 Gb Hard Disk (Sony gigabytes that is - it is nearer 11Gb according to everybody else's measure), DVD, internal modem, ATI Rage Mobility P/M AGP 2x video card with 8Mb memory and a 1024x768 14" screen.
Making space The machine comes with Windows 2000 and the disk
occupied with a large (about 9Gb) C drive (containing windows 2000,
etc) and a smaller D drive (empty). I decided to keep this set-up,
but scaled down to make room for Linux. I reinstalled windows from
Sony's "rescue disks" selecting an option where the C drive is 6Mb and
everything else is D. There seems to be no facility for leaving space
on the disk at this stage. I then booted the machine from the RedHat
7.0 CD and used disk druid to delete the D: partition and put some
linux partitions in place, leaving about 1.25Gb unoccupied. I then
finished installing Linux (see below for details). I then booted DOS
and from windows used the Windows 2000 "Computer management" facility
to create a D occupying the 1.25 Gb left for this purpose. I found
this program (which is under Control Panel/Admin Tools/Computer
Management) quite useful for seeing and messing around with partitions
while I was experimenting. I saw no sign of one of these "hibernation
partitions" that are often present in machines that can hibernate.
The machine booted fine from a RedHat 7.0 CD. The installation
switched automatically to text mode. Other than that it went smoothly
as far as XFree86 configuration. Here the video-card was correctly
identified, but it was unable to probe the memory, etc. I tried
various settings for the monitor (generic LCD panel 1024x768 and
non-interlaced SVGA 60Hz, the latter inspired by the windows set-up),
etc, but the X-server would crash when I opted for it to be tested.
I went on and finished the installation. I was unable to get X
working with any of Xconfigurator, XF86Setup and
XFree86 with the option "-configure".
RedHat 6.2 followed by upgrade
I finally tried going back to install RedHat 6.2 from a CD that in fact came
with a book. This installed fine in graphics mode including XFree86
with no hitches. (My memory is that I had tried this
earlier on, and that it had failed in a similar way to 7.0 - either my
memory is faulty or I did something silly first time round or
something is subtly different this time. I really don't know.)
Having tested briefly and seen that X was working, I booted from
the RedHat 7.0 disk, selected "upgrade existing installation", let
everything else take the default option, and I now seem to have 7.0 up
and running just fine with X. Why I couldn't install it directly is
a mystery to me. Here is the XF86Config file
that results from all this.
Summary and other remarks
Linux seems to be working fine: I can log in and out, run emacs,
copy files to and from the floppy drive and run X-windows.
The configuration utilities do not find the
"winmodem" and I expect this is difficult
or impossible to use under Linux. I have made one brief unsuccessful
attempt to configure the sound card, so that may be a problem too.
On the subject of sound, I received the following in an email from
"The Yamaha sound chip can
be easily driven using the OSS kernel modul ymfpci, which is
included at least in kernel 2.4.3. I had absolutely no problem
compiling and installing the driver and it works fine on my F807K."