Saturday, 3 November 2007

Installing Ubuntu 7.10 on a Sony Vaio Z600NE

Haven't used my old Sony Vaio Z600NE for a while (Windows XP was prohibitively slow). The Sony Vaio Z600NE was shipped with Windows 98 in 2000. Sony does not support any OS after W98 on this machine, but W2K Windows XP worked fine.

The machine came with a CD ROM that plugs into the PCMCIA slot. USB 1.1 connectors don't support booting from USB devices.There is a 10 Mbit Ethernet connector on board.

Booting LiveCD

First I tried to boot the LiveCD. The machine hung without giving any indication about the cause. I tried several boot parameters and settings:
  • set keyboard to German / left default
  • set graphics resolution to 1024x768 / left VGA
  • set kernel parameters: noquiet, nosplash, irqpoll, irqfixup, acpi=off, pci=off, clocksetup=hpet, clocksetup=pit (in any combination)
LiveCD would not boot, after the graphical or textbased loading of the kernel image (vmlinuz) the screen blanked and installation halted (even tried a full night in case Linux required longer timeout periode).

Booting the Alternate CD

Booting the alternate CD worked fine (I tried several boot parameters first with same results as with the LiveCD: the CD would not boot). Alternate CD boots into a textbased installer.

I entered username, password, keyboard layout and location. From there the installation went without any interupts. Installation took pretty long (approx. 50 minutes), after detecting the hardware, a default set of software packages was copied and in a third round installed.

After installation, a reboot was required.

My Sony did not boot up. Turning the machine off completely did not change the situation.

Removing the CD ROM from the PCMCIA slot and rebooting finally worked. The machine shows the GRUB boot loader prompt. It prints ACPI capabilities on the console. Then the splash screen shows up and with one hesitation it boots up quite fast.

Adding Netgear WG511T Wireless adapter

After the first reboot, software updates were available. In order to get higher bandwidth, I inserted a WG511T wireless adapter from Netgear. The adapter was recognized immediately and configured correctly. I had to enter key information and then could access my network at 108 Mbits/sec.

Software update after this was fast and reliable.


As a general office machine, the Z600NE is sufficient. Accessing the internet or reading E-Mails work fine. Even blogging this article works fine.

However, I tried to install TuxKart und Planet Pinguin Racer. Both programs crawl along so I deinstalled them. Other than this, I am happy having revived a long lasting companion.

Final steps

Sometimes the Z600 refuses to reboot. Kernel boot options were set to quiet splash. After changing this in /boot/grub/menu.lst to
quiet nosplash noapic clocksource=acpi_pm
the machine rebooted reliably.

No comments: