Fedora 8 on Sony SZ6: bright side of Mordor

I have been planning to write this guide for a long time. Unfortunately, I was busy as hell. Who’s not? Anyway, here it is.

Somehow, I can’t manage myself to use Ubuntu. There is something seriously lacking in that distribution. Perhaps, it’s that ugly brown color theme. Or is it the ugly fonts? I have loaded it several times but never could use it properly. I hate ugly fonts. But what I can tell for sure is that Fedora 8 is the most beautiful Linux distribution I have ever used. I have been using Linux full-time for the last seven years. Yes, I know what beauty is when I see one.

Fedora 8 reached Mordor alright. No problems there. On the way it found these:

  1. Suspend/Hibernate works right out of the box. For Nvidia cards you should load the proprietary driver to get the suspend working.
  2. Networking works. Except that the Intel wireless driver has problems in finding hidden access points with WEP. You need to scan the card first while the Networkmanager applet running to make a successful connection. VPN works fine too with vpnc. You should not face any problem with WPA connection. Here is a small tip to get this scanning working. Make a file containg the key and access point SSID and the run:
    /usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant -c myfile -iwlan0 -Dwext -d

    Ofcourse, here myfile is your file. And remember to run the Networkmanager as usual. As soon as the scan is complete you should see an established connection.

  3. DVD+RW drive works.
  4. Sound works. Except the fact that when you plug in a headphone the speakers are not muted. This can be solved by an easy fix. See below.
  5. Twinview with external monitor works with Nvidia driver
  6. USB/Firewire
  7. Fn keys for Volume up/down/mute keys.
  8. CPU frequency control.
  9. Touchpad scrolling, both horzontal and vertical.
  10. Fan control.

As you can see, Sauron is not that evil after all. Most of the things that make a successful Linux installation work out of the box, except for two glaring omission,

  1. Aforementioned sound problem.
  2. Webcam
  3. Brightness control

The sound problem can easily be solved by adding to your modprobe.conf,

options snd-hda-intel index=0 model=vaio

When I first installed I had to do some hoolahoops to get the webcam working. Right now there is a new driver available from here, http://wiki.mediati.org/R5u870. Download the driver and as usual install it using,

make

make install

Now the problem with Fedora is that if you simply modprobe the driver, it won’t work. The file permission won’t be right. So a simple hack will be to create a file with the name r5u870.modules in your /etc/sysconfig/modules directory with the following content,

#!/bin/bash

/bin/mknod /dev/video0 c 81 0

/bin/chown user /dev/video0

/bin/chmod a+wrx /dev/video0

/sbin/modprobe r5u870

Substitute user with your username. The script simply create the node in the device directory and force it to make it executable before loading the webcam driver.

The last problem is slightly difficult to solve. Frankly speaking it has no solution right now for Nvidia driver. You can try using nvidia-settings brightness control, but it is not really a backlight control, so it won’t save you much power.

If you use Intel card then there is a solution. There is a small utility with Xorg distribution called xbacklight. Download it from here. Install it as usual. You can use it like,

xbacklight -set 50

to set the backlight to 50%.

We are nigh end of that darkness. Frodo you fool, throw that damn ring!

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