I haven't found many people on the internet trying to install linux on the VPC S12 C7E laptop and so I thought that I'd post my experience. If you are a beginner or intermediate Ubuntu user I'd advice the purchase of a different laptop as so far this has proved to be a much more frustrating experience than I am used to.
This was purchased from a store with a standard specification. It has InteCore i3 processor, Nvidia GeForce 310M GPU, 6GB memory, 1366x768 LCD screen, and a built in optical disk.
Due to the memory size I have tried to install 64 bit versions. The only features which have worked automatically are the keyboard and the wifi.
After booting the disk the screen goes blank. This seems to be common with other Vaios and replacing 'quiet' and 'no-splash' with 'nomodeset' seems to fix this problem. After installing to disk I added these to Grub so that I can see the screen after booting. Adding 'i8042.nopnp' makes the touch pad work as well.
The default video driver wouldn't seem to work at the native resolution of the monitor. I installed the nvidia binary driver, which was not successful to start with. It seems that there is some problem with the edid data coming from the LCD panel. I found a solution to this in another post. Using a Windows tool I extracted the edid data into a file called edid.bin and then added
Option "CustomEDID" "DFP-0:/etc/X11/edid.bin"
to my xorg.conf file. I think that there is a linux tool to extract this data, but I found that out later. I have no control over the screen brightness. I have tried many of the fixes suggested in the forums.
Initially there was no sound from the internal speakers and I struggled with a few different solutions. Eventually I downloaded the latest ALSA source and compiled it. Since then everything has been working well - except the internal microphone. The function key volume controls work.
I have not managed to get the VGA or HDMI ports to work. I have tried a few suggestions, but I think that this is a problem which should be easy to fix. Many people with a similar laptops had the same problem with the edid data found that external monitors worked well.
By following http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1562873 I have managed to get VGA and HDMI out working,
but without sound.
The above line is the key change in my xorg.conf.Code:Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP-0,DFP-1,CRT"
I think that the intel i3 has on board graphics. If it has perhaps it is possible to use instead of the nvidia chip to reduce power consumption. I have not found any reference to this anywhere. The power consumption under Windows seems to better, but that may in part be due to lower screen brightness, or it may be circumstantial as I have not used windows much. FYI it is just under 3 hours under Ubuntu when used as a work processor.
I have tried to get the WWAN working, but I have not managed to so far.
To sum up the following features (which are important to me) are not yet working as I would like :-
internal microphone; screen brightness; WWAN; and battery life.
Other features such as the finger print reader and S400 and bluetooth I have not tried (and probably won't).
I will try to post the links to some of the pages that helped me get this far, and I will be most grateful for any suggestions which help with the above problems.