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Linux on the Sony Vaio UX280


2007-04-29 Update:
Fedora 7 seems to work pretty well with the UX280. the new xrandr 1.2 does the right thing with dual monitors. The iwlwifi driver doesn't seem to work as it should. Using the old style ipw3945 driver does work, but you have to remove the iwlwifi.ko and mac80211.ko files in /lib/modules/KERNEL_VERSION/.... as they seem to interfere with the ipw3945 workings.

Bluetooth is a little harder. I had to go into serviceconf (you can use chkconfig as well) and turn off hidd. Then I restarted the bluetooth system (/etc/init.d/bluetooth restart) and followed the steps below and it worked. It did feel like "jiggling the handle" on an old toilet as I had to get the timing right or the mouse wouldn't connect. Once it connected the first time though, it presents no problems later.

I recently bought a Sony Vaio UX280. Below are my thoughts on it and some tips on installing Fedora Core 6 Linux.

My goal is to have a small computer with a >= i386 chip with a keyboard. The two smallest, most featureful choices at the time were the OQO 1+ and the Vaio UX series. I was willing to put up with the extra size and cost for the extra power that the UX280 provides.

Since my work requires me to use linux, I had done some research on the UX280 and linux. The site with the most info to date is The author decided to use ubuntu and got almost everything to work. I stood mostly on his shoulders to get things running well on my UX280.

The install and config process follows. I'll only go into detail where one has to drift away from the default install/config.

Use these instructions at your own risk.

  1. Find or buy a DVD/CD writer/reader. You'll need a DVD writer to make the Sony recovery disks.
  2. Follow the Sony instructions to make the 2 recovery disks.
  3. You'll need to get into the UX bios to enable booting from the usb optical drive. When you reboot your Vaio, type f2 (Fn key + 2) a few times to bring up the bios.
  4. Under the Advanced tab, set "External Drive Boot" to Enable. Under the Boot tab, ensure that USB Optical Drive is first in the list. Exit, saving the changes.
  5. Ensure that your FC6 DVD or CD1 is installed and install FC6. Under the partition section, you will need to adjust to suit your needs. I deleted all partitions and set up a root (/), /home, and swap partitions.
  6. Customize your package selection and be sure to add the kernel and xorg development packages or add them after your first boot. We'll need these for the evtouch and wireless drivers.
  7. After your initial setup, you'll note that the touch screen doesn't work. To fix this, I followed the instructions at The Xorg Touchscreen Driver page. My xorg.conf InputDevice settings differ from the author's a bit. Here are mine:
    Section "InputDevice"
            Identifier      "touchscreen"
            Driver          "evtouch"
            Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
            Option          "ReportingMode"         "Raw"
            Option          "Device"                "/dev/input/event4"
            Option          "minx"                  "30"
            Option          "maxx"                  "990"
            Option          "miny"                  "50"
            Option          "maxy"                  "970"
    For some reason, whenever I suspend, the Device jumps around. Sometimes, it's /dev/input/event5. Sometimes it's /dev/input/event3. Suspend may be turning off something that it shouldn't.
  8. I got wireless to work with some effort. I couldn't find any rpms that would work, so I used the source packages. The packages are at: and
    I used version 1.1.3. On Fedora Core 6, you don't need the intel ieee80211 source as the modules in Fedora seem to work fine. Follow the instructions carefully. For me, the wireless range was only a few feet. I added an option to /etc/modprobe.conf that fixed this:
    options ipw3945 antenna=1
    I haven't set up the driver to autoload on boot, so currently I just:
    modprobe ipw3945 and use the gui network tool to set up the interface.
  9. I got sound to come out of the speaker by going to the Volume Control. Under the Edit/Preferences menu, check the "Speaker" box. Now you can un-mute and adjust the volume.
  10. Screen Rotation: xrandr seems to work fine for screen rotation. The manual page is pretty accessible. I'll be writing a script to do the rotation from an icon on the toolbar. Once the script is done, I'll post it.
  11. Bluetooth: I successfully attached a bluetooth mouse. In fc6, I ran this as root: hiid --server --search and then pressed the reset button on the mouse. After that, it connects automatically. Be sure the hidd daemon is set to run in the services tool or with chkconfg.
There are some issues I haven't addressed yet. As I fix them, I'll add to these docs.
  • Dual Head: I'd like to set up a big monitor as my primary display. The problem is that I have a different monitor at home and at work, so the settings are going to be different.
    Update 2007-04-29: Dual head works fine under Fedora 7 t4. One has to run the command: "xrandr --auto" when connecting or disconnecting the monitor.
  • The extra nav keys: I have to confirm that X can see them.
    Update 2007-04-29: I have not been able to get the extra keys to work.
  • Biometric Scanner: There is a program called thinkfinger which is supposed to work with this device, but I haven't managed to get it woking yet.
    Update 2007-04-29: After fiddling with the driver for a while, I found in the README that thinkfinger doesn't support the Sony biometric scanner yet.
  • The Cameras: There may or may not be drivers for the 2 cameras. I'd like to use them for video conferencing.
    Update 2006-12-31: The Ricoh cameras don't seem to have linux drivers. These may be a lost cause for the present.
  • Cingular Edge Modem: I'm not terribly interested in this yet. Maybe if I could remove the modem and use the cf slot for something...
  • Memory Stick Reader: There seems to be a driver out there for it called tifmxx. Normally, it is available at, but the page seems to be unavailable (2006-12-31). This driver may only work with SD cards.