[CALUG] Vaio VGN-TX651P and Linux

Derek Rogillio dereklist at rogillio.net
Sun Oct 23 11:37:51 CDT 2005

Hello all,

Once again, I have been enticed by the latest and greatest hardware on a new laptop and am now suffering through getting everything to work.  I purchased this laptop last week and am just now getting to the point where I am stuck.

First off, the laptop:

The TX is the new ultraportable from Sony and replaces the T[1-3]50 series.  On paper it is quite an upgrade, with a larger widescreen display, some nice enhanced features, and the i915 chipset instead of the i855.  At 2.75 lbs it is one of the smallest laptops available with a built in optical drive.

What works:

The widescreen display with non-standard resolution was detected out of the box by Ubuntu and works perfectly.  The DVD writer, PC card slot, USB, firewire, and bluetooth all came up with only minor tweaks.  As is usual with Sony products, all of the function keys are software activated.  I was able to get most of them working by changing the ACPI scripts.  Power control and CPU speed stepping worked out of the box.  The Alps glidepad works and I was able to enable all of its special features.

What doesn't work:

I can't even see the modem, SD slot, or MemoryStick slot from Linux.  The two slots show as unsupported with lspci and the modem is just absent.  The volume up and down keys both report the same ACPI event and are useless due to my inability to distinguish which of the two has been pressed.  I can live with all of these, but I hit a show stopper with the video card.  As of now, there are no drivers to mirror the i915 video out to the external CRT.  I can get it working to extend the desktop through X.org and Xinerama, but there is no way to mirror the LCD to an external display.  As a person who does presentations at least weekly, this is really bad for me.  I tried using i855crt with the i915 patch, but it doesn't seem to work on this laptop.  Strangely enough, it works fine on my company-issued Dell laptop.

There's also one other general annoyance that drives me up the wall.  It happens in both Windows and Linux, so it must be something in the hardware or the BIOS.  Even when idleing, the fan comes on and then goes back off in about a 15 second cycle, constantly repeating.  I wouldn't mind it if it ran all the time or not at all, but the constant on and off is distracting.


It's a nice piece of hardware and a good upgrade from the T series if you are a Windows user.  If you're using Linux, you may want to wait until it's a little better supported.  I'll probably hold on to mine but not use it as my primary machine until I can work out the problems above.

Derek A. Rogillio
dereklist (at) rogillio (dot) net

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