Ubuntu On Sony Vaio FW Series

Tips & Tricks related to Sony Vaio FW series laptops

Stay Wireless

with 17 comments

My laptop have Atheros AR928x wireless card installed, and it’s not work in Ubuntu by default.

Earlier, madwifi drivers was the best for Atheros cards, now madwifi not work for my card. But they have released opensource driver for new chips like AR928x and it’s named ath9k.

More information is on kernel wireless ath9k page.

You can download it here http://wireless.kernel.org/en/users/Download

I have 2.6.24-21 kernel on Hardy at the moment, so I downloaded compat-wireless-old.tar.bz2

Then done this:
tar jxvf compat-wireless-old.tar.bz2
cd compat-wireless-2.6-old
sudo make install
sudo make unload
sudo make load
sudo modprobe ath9k

Now if you run iwconfig, you should get something like this:
wlan0 IEEE 802.11bgn ESSID:"spongebob"

It means that driver is working and we have wireless interface. Now you can right click on network manager in tray and select your wireless network (you should disconnect ethernet first).

P.S. To compile driver, you shoud have developer packages is installed i.e. autoconf, linux-headers etc

UPD: For those who have Intel PRO Wireless 5000 card please read this comment describing how to install driver for Intel PRO Wireless 5000 and check topic on ubuntuforums.org

Written by egaistek

September 11, 2008 at 08:24

Posted in Vaio

Tagged with , , , ,

17 Responses

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  1. Ah, thanks for this. One step closer to being happy with linux on my FW.

    Unluckily for me I did not get the FW model with ATI drivers. My rationale was “I’ll get the cheaper model with intel graphics. Intel graphics drivers are open source, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?”

    Well, the only distro I have been able to display X in is a beta version of Mepis. Do you know anything of what wizardry is needed for my FW to be happy with xorg? Or should I try to return this thing for an ATI model? Thanks!


    September 11, 2008 at 21:08

  2. scott, can you say what model you have? I’ll take a look about this problem then.


    September 11, 2008 at 22:06

  3. i just wanna say… LOVE THE SITE.. LOVE THE WORK YOU’RE DOING.

    Im about to order a sony vaio FW.. and i dual boot with XP and linux mint (ubuntu based distro)

    i was sorta worried about comparability issues and mic/headphone problems and wireless etc..

    i can tell you how happy i am.. im gonna read and learn every thing you write so by the time i get my vaio FW, i’ll be able to have fun with my linux.

    plz keep up the good work.. and feel free to contact me via my email




    September 12, 2008 at 07:53

  4. oh and by the way .. have you tried linux mint on your vaio? do you think it would work?

    how’s the vaio FW performing so far? is it good with videos? movies etc…? sound quality?


    September 12, 2008 at 07:57

  5. jungar, thanks =)

    I’m going to try Mint soon, it’s based on Ubuntu, so it should work too of course )
    I just tried openSUSE 11, it have the same problem with fglrx and it’s not able to show GUI in live cd because of that.

    FW is just pretty at videos ) sound from laptop speakers is just average, you better use headphones if you need quality ) or other sound system.

    And sound from AC3 sound tracks in video is a bit low volume, but i guess it depends on codecs.

    And i see a huge performance difference with my older laptop vaio fs series +)


    September 12, 2008 at 14:47

  6. I agree, watching hidef videos on a laptop with a 16:9 screen is a nice luxury. FW for the win.

    I’m using the VGN-FW140e, and it appears that the reason we are having trouble booting live cd’s is that the intel drivers trickling to all of the distros are buggy. The Radeon FWs have next to no trouble with linux. Anyone with Cantiga graphics on the other hand (Intel GMA x4500hd) is going to have trouble.

    There are various forum posts I have found where developers are starting to get a grip on this issue.


    If you switch your video driver to vesa instead of intel then you should get a working X desktop, albeit with a low resolution and no hardware acceloration.

    Ubuntu’s new Ibex Alpha comes out on Thursday, hopefully these issues will dissapear. Anyone having luck with this?


    September 15, 2008 at 19:07

  7. I tried for hours to get this to work on my FW-190, I would be able to enable wireless but could not see any access points. Finally I found out that in order to support the intel pro 5000 I had to do the following:

    1) edit the config.mk by adding:


    at the end

    2) Download intel pro 5000 firmware and put it in lib/firmware/(kernel version)

    link: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/download.aspx?url=/4677/eng/5000_apfw_1.3-18.5.exe&agr=N&ProductID=808&DwnldId=4677&strOSs=All&OSFullName=All+Operating+Systems&lang=eng

    3) make, sudo make install, sudo make load


    September 17, 2008 at 03:52

  8. So you have another wireless card in your model, thanks for the tip Mohammad


    September 17, 2008 at 04:27

  9. I posted the wrong link, you can get the firmware at:



    September 19, 2008 at 04:02

  10. Hi,

    I am seeing an error when I use “sudo make load” it says the mac80211 is in use.

    Which processes I should kill??

    Please help



    October 1, 2008 at 17:55

  11. Have you did “sudo make unload”? You could just “sudo make install” then reboot and “sudo modprobe ath9k” that should help.


    October 1, 2008 at 18:09

  12. Hi,
    Thanks so much for your valuable tips above. I ended up downloading the compat-wireless-2.6-old as I’m using the 2.6.24-19-generic kernel and it required me to use the older 2.6 driver – worked fine after this. Just a question, though, you mention setting CONFIG_IWLWIFI_RFKILL=y – is this so the wireless switch at the front of the vaio will work?

    Tim Knapp

    October 5, 2008 at 14:17

  13. My switch work and I have Atheros card. I have not change any config. You should use CONFIG_IWLWIFI_RFKILL only if you have Intel wireless card.


    October 5, 2008 at 14:40

  14. Has anyone been able to get a sony vaio FW laptop with the 16:9 screen to work with any version of linux, so that the resolution is 1600×900? I am new to linux and am eager to learn more about how to use it.


    June 10, 2009 at 23:31

    • All FW with 16:9 screen. And yes, I have 1600×900, works fine.


      June 11, 2009 at 00:17

  15. Hello.
    I have problem with my wi-fi on sony vaio fw11er.
    I have done all steps from your article. I can see my wi-fi lan. But I can not connect to it. What should has file etc/network/interfaces ?
    Network manager can’t connect and Wi-fi radar too.
    My info:
    sudo iwlist scan
    wlan0 Scan completed :
    Cell 01 – Address: 00:1B:11:6B:31:6D
    Frequency:2.472 GHz (Channel 13)
    Quality=63/70 Signal level=-47 dBm
    Encryption key:on
    Bit Rates:1 Mb/s; 2 Mb/s; 5.5 Mb/s; 11 Mb/s; 6 Mb/s
    12 Mb/s; 24 Mb/s; 36 Mb/s
    Bit Rates:9 Mb/s; 18 Mb/s; 48 Mb/s; 54 Mb/s

    uname -a
    Linux sony 2.6.28-11-generic #42-Ubuntu SMP Fri Apr 17 01:58:03 UTC 2009 x86_64 GNU/Linux

    Please help!


    July 14, 2009 at 12:21

    • On Jaunty wireless should work out of the box without compiling new drivers. If you have problems try to install package from like in this comment


      July 16, 2009 at 21:17

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