Ubuntu On Sony Vaio FW Series

Tips & Tricks related to Sony Vaio FW series laptops

New sony-laptop brightness control

with 44 comments

I’m thinking on updating this module with another brightness control which does not require DSDT patching.

It’s based on changing hardware registers on Ati card and work with radeonhd and fglrx drivers only. Worth it or not, what do you think guys?

It’s possibly would not work with power manager, only with fn keys and maybe without onscreen osd 🙂

If someone have laptop with fullhd screen, I would like to test this method with you, because you have another Ati card.

Written by egaistek

January 7, 2009 at 15:58

Posted in Vaio

Tagged with , , ,

44 Responses

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  1. I think it would be a great option. I really hate patching the kernel as I really do not know what I am doing. Anything that would give me control of the brightness without patches would be great.
    What kind of an app? Gnome based, CLI or KDE? If it had a CLI that we could just assign keys to, it would be desktop agnostic.

    I am not sure if you are asking for someone with a different brand of laptop with fullHD or another Sony fullHD laptop. If you are wanting a test subject with a Sony fullHD, I am happy to help. I am running a vgn-FW139E/H with a Radeon HD 3400 video card.


    January 8, 2009 at 07:35

  2. Well it’s still a patch ) Currently I’m working on to include sony-laptop patch in official Ubuntu kernels, so you will not do any patch by hand except DSDT (for now). But new version does not need DSDT. And possibly cause no osd and such.

    I’m asking for FW laptop with fullhd screen 🙂 I have older version with 1600×900 screen and have another Ati card.
    Well, I guess I should make some test version and we can test on your Ati card and mine.


    January 8, 2009 at 13:15

  3. I’m willing to test I have a FW290 with the full HD screen and ATI 3650

    Intrepid Newb

    January 9, 2009 at 12:59

  4. ok guys, when I’ll be ready, I’ll post.


    January 10, 2009 at 20:42

  5. hey, i am willing too. I have Vaio FW290 with ATI 3650.


    January 12, 2009 at 13:31

  6. hi guys,

    i just got the laptop.. its amazing!

    but i have a problem..i got it with ati mobility radeon HD 3650

    but when i click on update and go to the site.. i cannot find an update

    why???? :s


    January 12, 2009 at 21:27

    • mido, I did not get what are you talking about )


      January 16, 2009 at 18:40

  7. egaistek,

    Sorry to post this here but I couldn’t figure out how to contact you.

    If you are looking for other stuff to get working on the VAIO FW with Ubuntu, a tutorial on getting Intel “Virtualization Technology” working would be great. You would be my hero if you could give some clear/safe instructions on hacking the BIOS. I’m trying to run some Qemu virtual machines and it’s painfully slow. I’ve emailed Sony support about this and it seems they have no plans on allowing us to turn on this feature despite the fact that they have no reasons for disabling it (and it’s enabled by default apparently).

    Thanks again for the site, keep up the good work.


    January 17, 2009 at 07:34

  8. mido, if you want to install latest ATI drivers for Windows Vista on ur laptop. Download the latest ATI catalyst for normal desktop and download mobility modder from here:

    u need to run the Catalyst installer, extract its contents and mod it using mobility modder. I am using the latest ATI Catalyst 8.12 on my laptop.


    January 17, 2009 at 09:31

  9. Guys, this blog is about Ubuntu, don’t forget this. Do not talk about Windows software here (there are thousands forums/blog about it), this can disorient another readers.


    January 17, 2009 at 10:40

  10. Matthew I’ve talked with support too. First time they said that my CPU does not support it, then I’ve pointed them onto Intel page about my CPU. Then they said that they are enable VT/VMX on their business laptops BZ series only. Yep, that’s sad.
    I have patched my bois rom dumped from linux, but I can’t test it, because it can broke my bios, and I can’t restore it then. I’m not fully sure that I’ve patched that right, because it’s dumped from memory. If Sony will release some update for our bios, then I can try to research it again.


    January 17, 2009 at 10:47

  11. oh, my email is in the qr code image (top right corner on the page) and in the sony-laptop patch 🙂


    January 17, 2009 at 10:48

  12. sorry about talking about windows in this. I just wanted to help that guy.

    I’ll be waiting for ur brightness application on Ubuntu


    January 17, 2009 at 13:27

  13. montylee – thank you very much … i just thought the majority of us here own a sony vaio FW and we Dual boot.
    and since im a regular reader of this blog i just wanted to ask a quick question.

    egaistek – im sorry for asking a question about windows, i am still learning to use vista and will install ubuntu as soon as i know how to use vista properly cuz i heard that if you mess up the grub, you;d lose everything and cannot get vista back again.

    thats why im a bit afraid and want to make sure i know 100% what im using before taking any steps, since vista came pre-installed and i dont have any backup CDs.


    January 20, 2009 at 00:55

    • np, with Vista Home Premium there is no fear to install Ubuntu on another partition. Anyway you can do restore dvds from Vista, there is software by Sony preinstalled already to do restore discs.


      January 20, 2009 at 01:15

  14. thank you 🙂 and keep up the good work my friend

    your blog is very nice


    January 20, 2009 at 04:30

  15. mido. i am using Ubuntu with Vista in dual boot. If you want to try out Ubuntu and don’t know much about partitioning etc. just download and install Wubi from here:

    Using wubi you can install Ubuntu on ur laptop without creating a new partition. Wubi can create a virtual Ubuntu partition on ur windows partition. It’ll automatically add Ubuntu in dual boot options. Try it, i am using it too.


    January 20, 2009 at 09:01

  16. montylee,

    so let me get this straight.. whats the difference between wubi and installing ubuntu the old fashioned way via partitioning?

    is this actually ubuntu 8.10 ?

    if there is no partition, isnt there a risk of infecting my PC with spyware/malware etc that i contractt when using ubuntu (it doesnt do anything to linux, but since there is NO partition, would it affect my vista) ???

    the primary reason why i like to use linux is because it is more secure (and well, its open source)

    especially after reading about this new worm/virus that has hit windows recently…

    damn vista.. i wish sony would have XP pre installed so i could install ubuntu the way i know. just pop in the CD, create/edit the partition when creating ubuntu, and install 🙂


    January 20, 2009 at 21:07

  17. wubi is perfectly safe. The benefit of using Wubi is that you don’t have to burn a CD/DVD and you don’t have to do any partitioning at all. If you want to install Ubuntu in a new partition, just create a new NTFS partition in Vista and install Ubuntu thru Wubi on that partition. This way Ubuntu will be installed on a different partition.
    I am using it on my lappy and it’s perfectly safe.


    January 21, 2009 at 08:29

  18. montylee .. have you got the vaio fw with the 64 bit vista?

    did you guys install ubuntu 64? or 32?

    just checking so i know which one i should download.


    January 21, 2009 at 23:29

  19. i have Vista 64 bit. I tried Ubuntu 64 bit but it gave an error so i am using Ubuntu 32 bit.


    January 22, 2009 at 12:58

    • Which error, montylee? I’m on 64bit now.


      January 22, 2009 at 15:40

  20. now im confused guys ;p which one should i get?


    January 23, 2009 at 05:41

  21. Just got my FW-390J today. I really like the blog but I could not get the brightness patch to work with my model. I thought it would work since it uses the same hd 3650, but I guess not. I would be interested in testing some things for you however. I currently have 8.10 x64 installed.


    January 23, 2009 at 13:10

  22. so whats the latest update with the brightness fix/patch?

    let me get this straight.. if i install ubuntu, the brightness will be on FULL (high) all the time? theres no way of dimming down the screen?

    are there any more problems i should know about before i go ahead and install ubuntu 64.

    by the way… did anyone else here use EasyBCD? i just installed it and am waiting for some replaies before i install ubuntu, because im NOT an expert and i dont wanna mess things up and not be able to retreive anything 😦

    all the best to you fellow linux users 🙂



    January 24, 2009 at 07:08

  23. hey guys,

    and luck with the brightness controls?


    January 25, 2009 at 00:58

  24. Hi all, does anyone know if Ubuntu has an equivalent to Sony’s “battery care” feature? I’ve fallen in love with it to the point that it’s keeping me on Vista instead of Ubuntu.


    January 25, 2009 at 09:35

  25. I just installed ubuntu 8.10 64, and i CANNOT bear the ultra BRIGHT screen:(

    plz fix this soon. i cant use ubuntu untill it gets fixed.


    January 25, 2009 at 23:09

    • derk, what’s stop you to read the brightness how to and fix it yourself?
      If it’s too hard for you to read the previous posts (listed on the right), no one will help you.


      January 26, 2009 at 01:12

  26. Hi, why don’t u write more? This blog has been for me really useful. Now I am studying abroad and I have had to come back to Vista to use Skype and is a pain in the ass. It would be great to have our laptop withUbuntu pre-installed instead of Vista because is the best way to enjoy it. The brightness with the Catalyst driver was a huge advance but the built-in mic still doesn’t work. Do u know something new about it?
    Thanks for your blog.
    Kind regards from Eindhoven


    February 16, 2009 at 07:12

  27. There is just no way to enable internal mic. We need to patch driver for alsa I guess, but I don’t know how yet.
    And I’m working on new brightness control. There are seems all work except mic and memorystick card reader.


    February 16, 2009 at 07:54

  28. Hello egaistek.

    I have a problem with openbox.
    Just can’t figure it out how to switch the keyboard layout on the fly.

    I tried to use the setxkbmap but then I can’t change the layout to us, coz atm it’s impossible to type english commands in the terminal.
    Changing openbox’s rc.xml is not the right way.

    Can you or somebody else help me?


    February 17, 2009 at 20:21

  29. I appreciate all your hardwork with this post.

    I have a new FW390. This post seems to have tailed off in the last few months. I was wondering if the issue of brightness has been readdressed?

    I patched the kernel, but could not apply the DSDT changes. My brightness is still locked at 100%, and the battery lasts like 1.5 hours. That’s my only complaint, but it kind of sucks. Thanks.


    February 22, 2009 at 11:12

  30. Sorry. I see this is addressed in the original brightness post. I thought that the new postings had moved over to this thread.


    February 23, 2009 at 08:18

  31. Hi, i have some question about the VAIO FW11E microphone. With my ubuntu the microphonone doesn’t work, so i hope you have find some solution for this…thaks a lot !

    giuseppe fiorentino

    February 28, 2009 at 01:06

  32. ive got VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Mobility Radeon HD 3400 Series
    with 1600×900 screen, if i can help, im open, as i want to have brightness working


    March 13, 2009 at 22:47

  33. I’ll try to check new Ubuntu as soon as I can.


    March 14, 2009 at 03:55

  34. Late response: If the new method would block the old one, I’d hate it! I really like powermanager to manage my brightness (that’s what it’s for), so blocking that would make me saying ‘no’


    March 21, 2009 at 14:13

  35. Hey!

    I have a FW 292 with ubuntu 8.10 32 bit/vista 64 bit dual boot with a radeon hd 3650 on it..

    Everything (including wireless) works fine other than:

    1. brightness control

    2. microphone ( I cant use skype/gtalk voice cos of this and this is the only reason I still have vista on, as skype is the only way I can talk to my folks who stay on the other side of the globe right now)

    3. I can’t see the files (music,pics & videos) which I can normally access thru vista. I used the wubi installer that came in the ubuntu installer image on the site. So its an un-partitioned install.

    I googled around for a bit and tried to find a way to mount the vista drive (and I came across ntfs-3g and stuff) so that it is visible in ubuntu but I dint find any easy way to do it.

    Can someone please help me out with these issues so that I can say goodbye to vista?


    April 2, 2009 at 12:12

  36. and also I have a only one partition on the whole hard disk and my max screen screen resolution is 1600×900 @ 60hz and I have fglrx drivers for the ATI HD 3650 which ubuntu found it by itself thru system > administration > hardware drivers


    April 2, 2009 at 12:16

  37. Look at http://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11682 , attach in comment #32

    it works on vaio FW21M (ATI .. HD 34xx) ,not sure about others


    April 20, 2009 at 05:05

    • Yea, that’s the way I’m trying to do.


      April 25, 2009 at 04:46

  38. I have a Sony vaio VGN-FW270jmodel…Can any suggest me…? Which distribution Linux is appropriate for this model…

    Thanks in Advance

    Black Berry…

    Black Berry

    April 24, 2009 at 19:41

  39. Hi egaistek,

    I have a fullhd screen (FW31ZJ) and would really like to try this patch since none of the others allowed me to change the screen brightness (albeit the Fn is recognized).

    Please, this is turning Ubuntu into a real nightmare…



    May 26, 2009 at 15:48

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