Ubuntu / Vista dual boot installation on a Sony VGN-FZ

So you want to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows on your Sony VAIO VGN-FZ** laptop? Here is a quick guide to help you through the procedure. It will assume you are starting on a brand new laptop with Vista pre-installed. If this is not a new laptop then backup, backup, backup.

  1. Remove all the useless bloatware which Sony has installed.
  2. Create recovery DVDs. Sony does not provide any recovery disks so you should make some in case….
  3. Use the Start Menu > Computer > Manage > Disk Management to “Shrink Volume” of the main system partition. Note that Sony will have a 9 Gb EISA recovery partition at the start of the drive (I would recommend leaving this alone).
  4. Yes, the Shrink Volume feature will only let you shrink it to about half, if you want to get by this then disable system restore, the pagefile, and hibernaion. With these disabled you can shrink the Vista partition to 48 Gb after defragmenting the drive. This allowed me to have the following partition setup on a 250 Gb drive:
    1. 9 Gb EISA recovery partition
    2. 48 Gb Vista partition
    3. 30 Gb FAT32 partition to share data between Windows and Ubuntu (created using Visa)
    4. 140 Gb Ext3 Linux partition (created by Ubuntu installer)
    5. 6 Gb Linux SWAP space (created by Ubuntu installer)
  5. If you want to be able to read your Linux data from Vista have a look at or
  6. Download the Ubuntu ISO for 64bit AMD and Intel computers from
  7. Although you could burn it to a CD to install it, I would recomend using a USB key:
  8. Download UNetbootin from
  9. Get a USB key that is at least 1 Gb and backup the data on it.
  10. Run UNetbootin, point it to the Ubuntu ISO you just downloaded, and select the location of the USB key.
  11. Once UNetbootin has created the bootable USB key reboot the computer.
  12. Ubuntu will go into live CD mode.
  13. Select Install and follow the instructions.
  14. Selecting the manual partition choice will allow you to create the 140 Gb Ext3 partition which will be mounted as root and the 6 Gb Linux Swap partition (double the RAM size).
  15. If all goes well you will see the Grub menu upon restart. Select the first choice.
  16. The Grub menu will have two identical choices listed at the bottom. The second to last choice is pointing to the VAIO recovery partition. This confusion can be cleared up by changing the Grub menu using “su gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst
  17. Go down until you see:

    title Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader)

    root (hd0,0)

  18. Change the title to “VAIO Recovery Center EISA Partition” to clear up any confusion.

Next we come to Sony VAIO specific problems in Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04):

  1. The backlight is stuck at full intensity.
  2. Download the xbacklight package using the System > Administration > Synaptic Packag Manager
  3. Write a small script which has the following two lines:

    xrandr –output LVDS –set BACKLIGHT_CONTROL native

    xbacklight -set 50

    where 50 is the percentage intensity.

  4. Headphones dont work without some modifications. Add the folowing line at the end of the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base

    options snd-hda-intel model=vaio

  5. To get mic working edit your /etc/init.d/alsa-utils as described here:
  6. Switch to the internal mic then enable Capture in the volume control panel and set your mic recording level as explained here:
  7. Get your Motion Eye Webcam working by following the steps outlined at this site:

Enjoy Ubuntu!

3 thoughts on “Ubuntu / Vista dual boot installation on a Sony VGN-FZ

  1. Thank you so very much for this contribution, do you know if there have been any strides in attaching the xbacklight to the HAL functions. I know for fact that Ubuntu 8.04 detects FN keys, and also that the music controls work out of the box. I’d just like to be able to use the FN keys to actually control the brightness instead of running a script.

    Email me, please and thank you!

    Your blog is going in my favorites.

  2. Little update

    1) For the Webcam, in jaunty, you need to do that (7 commands):

    sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev libusb-dev build-essential gcc automake fakeroot mercurial
    hg clone
    cd r5u87x
    make rules
    sudo make install
    sudo r5u87x-loader –reload

    2) the memory stick seems to work according to the posts of pulpo88, but I don’t understand what is exactly the procedure to follow source/linux-ubuntu-modules-2.6.22/ bug/159951 source/linux/ bug/222557

    Maybe U can help.

    Great page

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