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Installing Linux on Sony PCG-GRV550

TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, PDAs and mobile Phones    This page is displayed in and also in

Laptop Specifications

 512 MB
 2.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4
 Operating System
 Windows XP Home Edition
 Conexant AC-Link Modem for Intel
 Display  16", ATI Raedon 7500
 Hard Disk
 30 GB
 Sound Card  AC'97 Intel Sound card
 CD Drive
 Sony DVD / CDRW Combo

For full specs, please refer sony site for PCG-GRV550 laptop model

Please see below for Installation in SuSE Pro 9.0

For any questions / info, please contact me at

Installing Redhat Linux 9

Windows XP Home Edition was pre-installed on my laptop. I wanted Redhat Linux 9 installed in my laptop as dual boot. I freed up some hard disk space under "Computer Management" Tab in Windows XP. I freed up 7 GB of hard disk space. Windows will show this partition as unused and free space. I inserted Redhat Linux , disk #1 into my cd drive and rebooted my machine. As soon as the m/c reboots, the Redhat Linux installation starts. After choosing the language and keyboard settings, you are prompted for partitioning option. I choose "Auto Partition" and selected the free space. Linux partitioned my free space of 7 GB into 3 partitions - / , swap and /boot. You are ready to go! I didnt want GRUB (Redhat Linux Boot Loader) in MBR but rather windows boot loader. You can choose "Advaced Configuration" in Boot Loader Menu and you have the option of installing GRUB in MBR or in the first sector in boot partition. I choose "First sector in boot partition". I choose Custom Installation and chose various packages and then select Next to start installation. You can take a break, now!

Post - Installation

This is a slightly tricky part as we have not installed Redhat Linux in MBR and also we dont have floppy in this laptop to create a rescue disk. So, we have to boot into Windows and you have to download LTOOLS software. This is a cool utility where you can access linux files from Windows. Once this is installed, please refer to this documentation for dual boot in Windows XP. To overcome rescue disk, you can do the following.

Re-insert Redhat Linux 9, #1 cd into cd drive and restart your laptop. At the boot prompt , please type "linux rescue". You have to choose language, keyboard , etc. After you have done with that you, get a prompt. Please type the following at the prompt.

# chroot /mnt/sysimage

You will have the entire linux image file system as though you had booted from a disk. After you have configured boot.ini , try rebooting the laptop and you will be prompted with the windows / linux option and you are good to go !!!

Congrats, you have installed Redhat Linux 9 successfully !!!

What works and What does not

After booting into linux and logging in, its time to test the hardware. Modem didnt work initially but I got it working. For this, you have to install acpi patch.  I havent tried ethernet network port or pcmcia card. The display is cool. I had some problems with my earlier laptop PCG-FX150K and Redhat Linux 9. I had to change the XF86Config file for display. But it works well on this model. I am still working on to make my laptop speaker to work. Sound works partially.

Modem Fix

I found out that the modem was Conexant Ambit HSF type modem. You can identify the type of the modem and also download the linux driver from here. I installed the appropriate driver from this website (you can skip this for now and install the driver after compiling kernel) and I opened up kppp and tried to query modem but found that I always got "Modem Busy". Then, I found that for this laptop model, there is a IRQ conflict. The modem is installed in com3 port. So, fixing this, we  have to re-compile the kernel with the ACPI Patch. ACPI Patch fixes the IRQ conflict in Linux. To download the appropriate ACPI patch, go here.  Identify the correct ACPI patch for your linux kernel.

Once you have downloaded the patch, login to linux and install kernel-source package. Go to /usr/src/linux and do the following

1. copy the acpi patch file  to /usr/src/linux folder.
2. do the following
        # gunzip acpi-xxx.diff.gz
        # patch -p1 < acpi-xxx.diff
3. Once this is done, you can now compile the kernel.

Note the acpi patch version must match the kernel version and when the patch command is executed, no error must be reported.

I have written my own document for kernel compilation that can be found here . Its a quick mini how to.

While re-compiling kernel, you must choose the "ACPI Support" under "General Support" option and enable it. You can enable the other options as well. One more thing that might be useful is enabling NTFS file support under "File Systems". Also, compile Sound , USB as "Module" (choose "M"). Now, you are ready to build the kernel.

Once, the kernel is up and running, you have to install the linux driver for the modem. This can be found here. You have to download a Generic Driver format. (I uninstalled the older driver that I had installed above). I downloaded Generic RPM Format for my HSF Modem and installed it.

Note : We have to install Generic format because the kernel is a custom built one, otherwise you have to go for the package containing the correct architecture and kernel version. Also, note that you have to download the minimum version of 6.03. Prior versions have some bugs.

Once you have installed and configured your driver, you can start kppp and click on "query command" and voila, modem is detected !! You can now setup a ISP account and dial in! The IRQ conflict is fixed and I found out few things like battery monitor, etc to work. I have installed vmware under Linux and have installed Windows 2000 as the guest operating system under it.

To make kppp work in Pulse dialing mode, choose "ATDP" in dial string.

Making Linux detect My Digital Camera

Hotplug is kinda cool stuff. I plugged in my Digital Camera (Canon Powershot A40) and typed in few commands and I could download all my images and video! Create a folder (for eg "/root/pictures") and then type in the following command. All the pictures from the camera will be downloaded into that folder.

    # gphoto2 --get-all-files

Making Sound Working

I have AC '97 sound card in my laptop. To make sound work, I had to make sure that Sound is compiled as a module in the kernel rather than as built-in. To make sure that sound is installed as a module, type this command

    # modinfo soundcore

If you get an error, then you have to recompile kernel with Sound as "M". Otherwise you are fine. Try

    # sndconfig

Kernel 2.6 Update

I had tough time installing and configuring kernel 2.6 and I have given it up. I downloaded 2.6.0-test6 kernel and started out my experiments. But, I could'nt make this kernel work. I installed it successfully but whenever I boot it, I had "Bad EIP" errors. So, finally I deleted this kernel and download 2.6.0-test1 kernel. This kernel installed fine and booted up nicely. I had few usb errors when I booted up but I got the login screen. But, my touchpad mouse never worked. I had enabled PS/2 mouse in the kernel configuration but mouse never worked and so I finally gave up this kernel. I followed this article for my installation.

I successfully installed 2.6-test9 kernel. I got the pre-compiled rpm's and installed it. My touchpad mouse works beautifully now. Its better to get the rpm's than compiling a new 2.6 kernel from scratch!

My .Config file

Config file for 2.4.20 kernel
Better Config file for 2.4.20 kernel
Config for 2.6 kernel

Making Java 1.3 to work in Redhat Linux 9

I have installed WebSphere 4 and WebSphere 5 in Linux and both works well. You need IBM HttpServer 1.3.19 for WebSphere 4 and IBM HttpServer 1.3.25 for WebSphere 5. Order "Speed Start for Linux" cd's from IBM website or you can download it from that site. You need IBM DB2 v 7 (or greater) for WebSphere 4. All these servers, use java 1.3. Java 1.3 does not run out of the box in Redhat Linux 9. You have to add the following in your ~/.bashrc file.

# export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL = 2.4

After this is done, you can install java 1.3 and then set JAVA_HOME and PATH variables in ~/.bashrc file.

# export JAVA_HOME=<your java home> (For eg, export JAVA_HOME=/opt/IBM-Java2-131)
# export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin

Now of you open a terminal and then type "java", it should work. You can verify the version using "java -version".

I installed and configured IBM Directory Server 5.1 (LDAP) successfully today. If you have "Speed Start for Linux" cd, then you can install from cd #1.   You can follow the instructions from here. Good Luck!

Cool Stuff

I downloaded and installed the coolest Desktop called XFCE. Check it out !!
Installed licensed copy of vmware and then installed windows 2000 in linux. So, I can login to Windows 2000 whenever I want from Linux desktop !!

SuSE Pro  9.0

I bought and installed SuSE Pro 9.0. The pack consisted of 5 cd's (lot of goodies!!). I finally thought of moving out of redhat and wasnt sure whether to upgrade to suse 9 or fedora core 1. I tried SuSE 9 after reading its reviews and I am surely not disappointed. SuSE 9 is just amazing.  This is one of the best desktop linux I have ever installed. I have become a SuSE fan after installing and working in it for a few hours !!


Insert SuSE cdrom #1 and reboot your machine.  Installation is similart to Redhat Linux 9. Yast is more user friendly installer and it automatically detects all the hardware and makes a perfect installation ! Similar to Redhat Linux, you have the option of installing the boot loader in MBR or in the first sector of the boot linux. I choose to install it in MBR. Then, I choose "Manual Installation". There is a choice of ACPI disabled and stuff like that but I need ACPI for my laptop. Then you can choose the packages that you need to install. This is the one of the tedius process in SuSE. I liked redhat way of choosing packages. After selecting the packages, you are good to go. This part is rather confusing. After the installation of cd #1, SuSE will reboot and you will be left wondering what happened. I had tough time to figure out how to proceed with cd # 2 installation. You have to insert cd #2 (while rebooting) and then should not select a new installation but rather select "boot already installed linux". The system will start loading and then you will get Yast loaded and installing from cd #2. Pretty confusing stuff !

There are so many packages in SuSE linux 9.0 Pro that you need at least 3 GB of disk space ! It has everything , right from java run time environment, ide (eclipse) to my modem driver (hsf). I didnt need to download and install anything. The cd's contained everything !


I am a KDE fan and so installed KDE as my default desktop. There are so many desktops to choose from in the cd's (including XFCE). I started up and I was amazed that SuSE detected my usb modem immediately and after logging in , it detected my sound card (intelx80 chipset) and I got music. I was so amazed! Also, since I enabled ACPI, my battery settings for laptop worked right away ! Also, I plugged in my digital camera and an icon appeared in my desktop "Still camera". All I had to was click on it and it displayed all my snaps in my camera and I can download in few seconds! I could'nt believe my eyes! In redhat, to achieve same thing, I had to recompile the kernel with ACPI patch and enable USB and sound. To find this out, I had recompiled my kernel upteem times. In SuSE, everything works right out of the box and you have so much packages to choose from. I inserted my favorite vcd and I was seeing movie in few hours. I never got this working in redhat. Also, I could burn my cd's with k3b in just few clicks. This desktop version is truly amazing. I cant stop talking about this desktop to anyone I meet ! In a way, I am both happy and sad that redhat linux stopped free desktop version. Sad that I have to change over from my favorite distro (for 5 years now) but very happy that I found SuSE linux. :)

I installed WebSphere 4 and 5, IBM DB2 8.1 and everything works terrific. You still have to set the environment variable "LD_ASSUME_KERNEL".

What does'nt work

I have to still make my dsl modem work with SuSE. SuSE detects my modem perfectly but that modem doesnt have compatible linux driver yet. Its Globespan chipset and I tried but to no avail.



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