Laptop How-To for the Sony VAIO 705C

The Specs

The VAIO 705C has a 150 MHz cpu with MMX instruction set. The laptop comes with 16 MB of RAM, 2MB RAM for video (256bit Neo-magic chipset) and an IBM 2.1GB hard drive. The LCD panel is a SVGA 800x600 resolution 12.1 inch screen. And comes in a very lovely two toned purple color. It also has an integrated 33.6Kbs modem, USB port, and 15 pin VGA and TV rca out.

This laptop was designed for people who wanted a light weight computer who needed just the basics. It's got an interchangable floppy and cdrom drive (though they can be used concurrently in linux with the floppy plugged into the parallel port). The PS/2 port can be used either as an external keyboard or mouse. In both cases, the external device is emulated as a PS/2 device.

The first thing I did, when I got my hands on the 705, was to add 64 MB of ram (about $95 but now much cheaper) as soon as I could. Now, with a ram totaling 80 MB, I set about preparing myself for installing linux.

The only real gripe I have about the 705 is how Sony implemented the home, end, page up, and page down keys. It requires two hands at all times. A major impedement for me. Perhaps I will look into remapping them.

Installing Linux:

Selecting the OS

For me, that was an easy choice: Redhat 5.2

I have been using RedHat almost exclusively for over a year. It was also the latest version of linux that I could get my hands on. This ensured that I would have to worry less about having the latest glibc or some other patch essential to the progression of this project.

I, of course, plan to upgrade to 6.0 soon, pending a hard drive upgrade.

Repartitioning the hard drive

Sony, like most vendors, prepackages Win@ows 95 with all of its computer systems and this poor laptop didn't escape that scourge. However, this isn't why you are reading this. For now, we will only discuss dual booting both systems using lilo. Please note that this howto assumes that you know the basics about installing linux on a system already.

  1. Defrag the hard drive using MeSsy DOS mode.
  2. Using Partition Magic (tm) 3.0*, shrink that windows partition down to just under 800 MB.
  3. Exit out of Partition Magic (tm) 3.0 and reboot the system with the cdrom drive and bootable linux cd (RedHat 5.2) in the expansion bay.
  4. Install as if it were a normal desktop until you get to video drivers for X-Windows.
  5. Select the Neo-Magic chipset. However DO NOT select LCD panel for display. Create your own custom display and force it to 800x600 resolution. Selecting the default options will pretty much get the job done.
  6. With all this done, one last thing to set up your laptop: Install the apmd rpm so that you will have battery status checking.
* - Be aware that when Partition Magic displays partition information, it will display the Win@ows 95 partition and another 130 MB partition. *LEAVE* it alone. That is where the bios saves the memory registers when proceeding on a hard suspension or save to disk command.

PCMCIA Drivers and Advanced Power Management

I went to the Linux PCMCIA support page to get my Texas Instruments PCMCIA chipset working.
I also visited the APM page to make use of my bios driven suspend keyboard command.

Getting Linux to automatically shutdown on System Halt

This is as simple as adding the -p flag along with the shutdown -h now command. If you want it to do that without the extra flag, you need to edit some files. Log in as the superuser and type:

$ cd /etc/rc.d/init.d/
$ vi halt

Scroll all the way down to the last line where it says:

# Now halt or reboot.
echo "$message"
[ -f /fastboot ] && echo "On the next boot fsck will be skipped."
eval $command -d

On the last line, add a -p to the line which will not affect a reboot, but when the system is told to halt, it will turn off the system. As shown below:

# Now halt or reboot.
echo "$message"
[ -f /fastboot ] && echo "On the next boot fsck will be skipped."
eval $command -d -p

Good Luck!

Please e-mail suggestions or corrections to: Tim Mui.

For extra help, please see this page by Ed Falk on the similar Sony VAIO 707C. Or visit the Linux Laptop site.

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Last modified for human consumption on June 22, 1999