I am no longer updating this as of April 2011Sections:
2.What doesn't work
3.What you will need
4.Installation – Briefing
5.Post-Installation – Where you're at
7.Graphics – 256 and 260 drivers covered
8. HDMI Audio
10. Link to new kernel image and headers
1.This guide will tell you how to get Ubuntu up and running on a Sony VPCCW21FX laptop. This guide will use Ubuntu 10.04-64bit for installation. There are 2 main problem areas that you are going to run into, and these will be the focus of this guide. If you are looking for step-by-step installation directions, please use some google-foo or look into the absolute beginner forum. There are loads of guides there. It isn't that I don't want to give you step-by-step installation directions, but I don't do normal Ubuntu installs anymore so I do not want to give out half-right statements to any first-time users.
2. Wireless - The built in AR9285 wireless card drops packets like an armless juggler. If you compile a new kernel, or install the latest wireless drivers, it works a little better but is still far from reliable.
Video stuff - As of the nVidia 256.53 drivers, HDMI works fine. I have not tested VGA. Brightness controls still do not work.
3.What will you need?
1.Alternate or Network Install disc for 10.04 Ubuntu (normal install had no video for me)
2.Network cable (wireless doesn't work very well “out of the box”)
3.Some time – An afternoon to dedicate to this would be nice.
4.As I stated earlier, this isn't a step-by-step guide. Go ahead and install Ubuntu using your alternate or network install disk. Installation is normal (and pretty fast depending on your connection speed) for this laptop. I would recommend keeping your /home partition separate, as you may want to reformat / in the future. I know I will be doing that now that I have everything working.
5.Okay, the installer is done doing it's thing and it's asking you to restart. Go ahead and pop the disc out and reboot your laptop. At this point one of two things is going to happen. You will either have absolutely no video, or you're you'll bad video. If you have no video, read below. If you have bad video, move onto section 6.
No video – Hah, sucks don't it? Okay, reboot again (just hold the power button down to shut it off). Hold the shift key as it starts back up. The GRUB menu will load asking you what OS you wish to start. The default option should be selected, press 'e' to edit the boot lilne. Next to "quiet" add a space and "nomodeset". Then press CTRL + X. (thanks onhafoghefifo) You will have to remember this step until you get the nvidia drivers installed on step 7.
6.At this point your wireless card appears to work. And it does to a point... packet loss plagues this card. If you wish to improve it a little you will want to install a newer kernel (22.214.171.124 kernel at end of this document, or compile your own).
I ended up replacing my wireless card as I stream a lot of media to my PS3 and I like to game on this thing. For normal use you can probably put up with the crap Atheros card. However for best results I highly recommend getting a different one. I went with an Intel WiFi Link 1000 card.
7.Now for video. You may have a desire to simply download the nVidia drivers Ubuntu provides. Just say no to this method, only madness and headaches will follow for the 310m card that's inside this machine. Instead we'll download the latest from nVidia's website. Go to nVidia's site and download some drivers (any 256 driver will work, and 260.19.29 works, other versions may or may not work. After the drivers are downloaded you have to quit X and install them from command line. Pay close attention to where you've saved them (home folder makes things easier).
Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to be dumped to a terminal. Login. Run the following command to shut down the X server.
Now navigate to where you downloaded the nVidia drivers. If you saved them to your home folder, you're already there. For first timers... Use "cd" to change directory. Use "ls" to list the items in your current directory. To mark the nVidia drivers as executable use the following command...
sudo service gdm stop
To install the nvidia drivers use the "./" command, as follows...
chmod +x NameOfNvidiaDrivers
./ means "Run this file that is in the current directory." Simply typing the files name will attempt to run a file location in /usr/bin rather than the current directory.
Towards the end of the install the drivers will ask if you would like to run nvidia-xconfig. Go ahead and say yes and continue on.
8. HDMI Audio - Doesn't work by default. Below are the steps I took to correct this on my system, I'm not sure if all steps are required.
It looks like the 260 drivers from nVidia (260.19.29 right now) work for video.
Huge kudos goes to this wiki.
However in case anything changes, I will post exactly what I've done here.
1. I upgraded my nVidia drivers to 260.19.29
2. I updated my Kernel to 126.96.36.199 - Not sure if this step is needed, but .debs of this are at the end of this post.
3. Added the following line to /etc/pulse/default.pa
4. Make sure your device isn't muted in alsamixer. Run 'alsamixer'. Press F6. Choose HDA NVidia. You can unmute all of them if you want, but it's the 2nd option on our laptops so that's the only one that doesn't need to be muted.
load-module module-alsa-sink device=hw:1,7
5. Reboot (remember to use 'nomodeset' if you need it)
6. Open up your Sound preferences (System > Preferences > Sound) and choose your new output device (High Definition Audio Controller)
9.That's it. You should be up and running now. Just remember that your wireless card will disappoint you until you replace it or Atheros finally fixes the packet loss issue.
As of April 2011 I am no longer updating this guide. Ubuntu has steadily moved away from "bleeding edge but buggy" and more towards "stable but old", and that's not something I want for personal use. I have moved to Debian unstable. Ubuntu, I'll still see you every day at work. I hope we can still be friends and that things won't become awkward.
10. Links to kernel headers and image...