Installing Archlinux (or others) on Vaio Z (Z1 and Z2 series)

Date:2011-08-15

Note

This how-to is only interesting if: + you want to keep the softraid setup (aka dmraid) which is the default. + you want to dual-boot with Windows (otherwise I don’t see why you’d keep softraid).

Partitioning

First of all setup your partition using the Windows disk manager, or the Windows installer. Make sure you have enough space for everything. You can also just make sure you have unused disk space (unpartitionned) and partition it in Linux if you prefer, but since you’ll need Windows to resize the stock partition you might as well do it in Windows.

Feel free to delete the OEM partition if you made Vaio restore disks as well. They include that.

Reboot in Linux on the Archlinux install CD.

Grub

While Grub2 nowaday works out of the box, this how-to works with Grub1 in mind. Grub2 is not available on the current Archlinux boot CD anyways and using it is complicated (have to install it in the chroot).

Login as root and run these commands:

# modprobe dm_mod
# dmraid -ay

This will load the software raid support and should list some /dev/mapper/isw... partitions.

Run

# fdisk -l /dev/mapper/isw_....Volume0
And note the heads, cylinder, and sector counts.

# dmsetup mknodes
# grub -device-map=/dev/null
# device (hd0) /dev/mapper/isw_....Volume0

# geometry (hd0) C H S
(eg: geometry (hd0) 313311 255 63)

# root (hd0,0) < = replace the second 0 by your linux partition if its not first, it should detect 0x83 for ext234
# setup (hd0)

and done.

if you get an error 22 at setup do:

# ln -s /dev/mapper/isw_....Volume0pX /dev/mapper/isw_...Volume0X (no p)

and run setup (hd0) again

If 0x6 is detected as format instead of 0x83 run fdisk /dev/mapper/isw...Volume0 again and hit p, then:

  • Look for the partition that is your /boot partition (or / if you dont have a separate /boot) and hit t.
  • Type the number of the partition I just made you look at, then type 83 as type.
  • Type w to write the changes, confirm, go back in grub and try again.

Don’t forget to add dm_mod to MODULES and dmraid before filesystems to HOOKS in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf.

Touchpad

On the Z1 series, you can just start with these options in your grub’s menu.lst or grub.conf, appended to the kernel command line:

i8042.nopnp

or

i8042.nopnp i8042.reset i8042.nomux i8042.noloop

On the Z2 this isnt necessary, however the trackpad has a single button and you need a special driver until synaptic is patched upstream. They call it a clickpad.

You can find it on AUR: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=38120

Just install it and restart X.

The patched driver is no longer necessary, Clickpad support is included in newer Xorgs. However, you still have to configure it a little as the autoconfiguration fails (no left button).

You’ll need to adjust the Clickpad area for buttons. It doesn’t accept percentages (might be a bug so it might change in the future) but absolute ranges instead.

Simply add this to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-synaptics.conf:

Option "SoftButtonAreas" "3900 6000 3500 7700 2800 4199 3500 7700"

This makes the small area above the fingerprint reader the middle button. That’s right, you’ve a middle trackpad button now. Hurrai!

It actually works very good with these settings. Feel free to adjust to your liking, “man synaptics” explains each value, which are the button area delimiters.

Fan noise, power consumption (Z2 especially)

On Windows the Z2 uses a trick to reduce the fan noise (not that it would be loud, it only is if you play games or the like), specially for desktop use. While it has a 2.7Ghz i7 for example, it reduce the max frequency even during load to 2.0Ghz.

You might want to change this value depending on your CPU.

To emulate this on Linux, install cpufreq and change /etc/conf.d/cpufreq with these settings:

governor="ondemand"
max_freq="2.0GHz"

Then add cpufreq to your startup daemons in /etc/rc.conf and acpi_cpufreq in your modules in the same file).

Restart or load them manually. Don’t forget to change to the max freq if you need the performance. Eventually this can be managed with a small systray switch, if none is available I might make one.