HOWTO – Ubuntu Dapper Drake on a VAIO SZ Series Laptop

Ubuntu Dapper Drake was officially released on the 1st of June. It is an incredible product and the last year has taken linux much closer to mainstream adoption. Out of all the free distros dapper easily has the widest range of supported hardware out of the box and the best integration among apps. If you have never tried linux then now is a good time to give it a go.

I’m also running it on my new SZGP15 Vaio. I have always been a fan of sony’s laptops, and the SZ series has some beautifully light but powerful machines. The SZGP15 shows sony at their best with a multitude of ports (SD, firewire, Duo Memory Stick), light design, widescreen XBRITE screen and a nice big keyboard you can hit pretty damn hard that is ultra flat so as not to make impressions on the screen. It is pricer than mac dual core counterparts, but runs far cooler despite drawing a lot of power. My only gripes have been the price and the battery life, which is about 3 hours.

I followed this guide for setting everything up but I have a few pointers for anyone walking the same road.

Ethernet. 0000:07:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8036 Fast Ethernet Controller (rev 15)

The author claims it works out of the box, I am assuming he is using the new sky2 driver. This driver did not work for me at high speed and would silently fail with the network simply becoming unaccessible. A better alternative is to use the proprietary sk98lin driver from Marvell.

0000:06:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation: Unknown device 4222 (rev 02)

Use the 0.0.70 version of the ipw3945 module. Newer versions didn’t work for me, this one seems to be the most stable. ALso check out the linux-restricted-modules-`uname -r` package but be careful as it will overwrite any modules you have compiled. I’m a little miffed by this package as it seems like a bad idea to package about a whole bunch of proprietary modules into a package partly because people never have to agree to a license to install it and partly because it seems like a bad idea to throw a whole bunch of modules into a package since it breaks the atomicity of a package.


Edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the line

Option “SHMConfig” “on”

Edit /etc/modules and add the line


You will now be able to use qsynaptics or similar to modify the behaviour of the touchpad.


The snd_hda_intel module that comes with Dapper doesn’t seem to work with headphones. Download and compile the latest alsa drivers if you want to get it working. Keep the PCM below 70% to avoid distortion – unfortunately its not that loud on my sennheiser headphones.

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