Linux on a Sony VAIO PCG-GRT170
Last modified 7/17/03
I purchased a Sony PCG-GRT170, because it had a beautiful screen and
the FX 5600 Go graphics card. We are investigating using NVidia
hardware for our movie graphics rendering work, and the FX 5600
supports the (current) latest vertex and pixel shaders.
Another nice thing is that the VAIO came with a D partition that was
huge and empty, so I didn't have to reformat the drive to make a linux
partition. This is always a pain, and one less thing to do.
I installed RedHat 9.0, removed the windows D partition, and used that
space for a Linux '/' and a swap partition. I was careful (the
second time) to use the 1st block of the boot partition to store the
boot loader, and the machine dual booted Windows XP and Linux with no
problem (that same second time.) The VAIO doesn't come with a
floppy installed, I used an Iomega external USB floppy to make the boot
disk. It will boot from that disk, although we use the GRUB boot
loader instead of the floppy. Installation was almost completely
painless and intuitive.
So far, I cannot get the screen to work at any better than 1280x960
resolution. The screen's native resolution is 1400x1050, but try
as I might I can't get that to work. I've tried multiple
modelines, so far to no avail. At that lower resolution, the
screen looks pretty bad, text is fuzzy and off-color. Except for
that, the machine works well. Unfortunately, this is a really big
The machine, as installed out-of-the-box, doesn't seem to work with
power management, and in particular it doesn't know about the battery
status. I'm somewhat concerned that there may be an issue with
temperature sensing and fan speed; some VAIO/Linux pages warned about
that. I suppose I'll have to build a custom kernel to get those
features installed and working.