Updating my dual-boot Linux laptop to Windows 10

Ok, I have to admit, I still have Windows on my laptop. I do about 90% of my work on the Linux (Debian) side, but there are some applications where I don’t have an alternative: Word (yes, I know LibreOffice, but it is still not capable enough to handle Japanese forms without breaking the layout), and much more, QuoVadis, a GPS and digital map program where I do have my whole history of moutaineering and bundled knowledge as mountain guide. So for the time being, I cannot switch away from Windows. Not to mention some of the Steam games that only work on Windows, unfortunately. So the other day I went ahead and accepted the upgrade offer and let Windows do its part …

win10

The machine is a Sony Vaio I have reported already many times, see the posts of the tag Vaio. All in all, it was a very smooth upgrade, to my complete suprise:

  • Windows 10 allowed me to make a backup to an external drive, as I didn’t have all those Gigabytes free it asked for
  • The first reboot brought me into a horribly small resolution, but an update check brought in newer Intel drivers and the resolution was back to normal.
  • Best of all, the Windows 10 update did NOT destroy my booting!! As I mentioned, booting is a bit a shaky thing, and I had my USB super boot stick ready, but without any need! What a positive surprise!
  • All the applications I normally use continued without any troubles, till now.

On the other hand, as it is well documented, Windows 10 is a beast when it comes to collecting all kinds of data. There are a lot of settings to be turned off just to make sure not all your details down to your shoe size and the x-ray of your grandparents are transmitted to Microsoft. I used the German Computer News page heise where I found this article.

All in all for now I am happy with the current situation, I could boot back into my comfy Linux and know that if it is necessary, I can switch to Windows (10) for some dirty work.

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Sony VAIO – wlan firmware update 23.10.10.0

Just a quick not for those using Sony VAIO on recent kernels: There is a new firmware version out there: 23.10.10.0

sony-wifi

Reading through my dmesg log I found

iwlwifi 0000:01:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-7260-10.ucode failed with error -2
iwlwifi 0000:01:00.0: loaded firmware version 23.214.9.0 op_mode iwlmvm
iwlwifi 0000:01:00.0: Detected Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless AC 7260, REV=0x144

which made me go to the linux firmware git repository, and indeed, in this commit “iwlwifi: add new firmware for 3160 / 7260 / 7265 / 7265D” a new firmware was added. After downloading the file iwlwifi-7260-10.ucode and putting it into /lib/firmware and rebooting into a recent kernel (in my case 3.18.0-rc7), I get the following lines in my log

iwlwifi 0000:01:00.0: loaded firmware version 23.10.10.0 op_mode iwlmvm
iwlwifi 0000:01:00.0: Detected Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless AC 7260, REV=0x144

Having had many problems with WiFi on Sony, I always hope that new firmwares and new kernels improve the situation. Let us see.

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Sony VAIO Touchpad toggling

Often traveling on trains and flights, I am used to type a lot during these time. Unfortunately, my Vaio Pro13 is a bit fragile, means that under normal typing, the weight of my hands near the touchpad makes the mouse pointer jump around indeterministically. Not only once a long text I typed was deleted due to this behavior. I tried to use the Synaptics feature that automatically disables the touchpad while typing, but I get crazy with the late re-enabling, so I quited using this approach. But there is a different way: On my VAIO there is a nice symbol on the F1 key that should toggle the touchpad state, but unfortunately it doesn’t work. So I tried to come up with a solution, but it was harder than I thought, because I wanted to do it via an ACPI event, which runs outside the user environment.

touchpad-button

The first step in activating a key is finding out whether it sends any event. Using xev it turns out that there is no response, so the easy way of binding a script in the X environment is blocked. Continue reading

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Sony VAIO Pro 13, Linux, WiFi

As I have written recently, my latest workforce laptop is a Sony VAIO Pro 13. At that time I posted something in the sense that with an update of the firmware my Wifi problems were resolved. Unfortunately this is not true. I had many problems running the latest release kernel 3.14, connections very instable, slow, or not existent.

But this is solved!

Vaio Pro 13

The whole magic is, if you want to run 3.14 kernel, that you also have to pull in the wireless-testing patches. Together with the patches for sony-laptop from Mattia Dongili, one can get a fully working setup.

Here is my current kernel-config file. It might contain a few more drivers than necessary, but it contains everything (AFAIK) for the laptop, and also everything necessary to run systemd.

To get the sources, do more or less the following:
$ git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git
$ cd linux
$ git checkout v3.14
$ git pull git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/linville/wireless-testing.git
$ git pull git://git.taihen.jp/linux-sony-2.6.git for_3.15

and then build your custom kernel as usual, using either my config file from above or something similar.

As far as I can see, linux kernel 3.15 will contain all of the above and thus will work out of the box. We are still pre-rc1, but most of the patches are already in there, good so. Probably due to the rumor that Linus himself owns one of these laptops, which means he want’s to see all the functionality properly working soon ;-).

If you need more information on how to initially get your Linux, in my case Debian, up and running on this laptop, see my previous post on it.

Anyway, with this setup I am now very happy!

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Debian/Linux on Sony VAIO Pro 13

I recently wanted to order a new laptop from work, and due to the ignorance of Lenovo I couldn’t get my preferred Thinkpad T41 in time for the end of the financial year. So I went for a Sony VAIO Pro 13 model. Having used a VAIO Z series laptop for quite some time, including maintaining soem extensions of the sony-kernel modules for some time, and implementing rfkill applets for Gnome, I expected a few problems with the new hardware.

Vaio Pro 13

Fortunately some other people have already posted various information on how to get the laptop properly running on linux, that helped. At the end it took me about two days to shrink Windows8.1, get linux to boot and run, move about 300Gb of data from the old laptop to the new, carry over all the configuration changes and adaptions, and tweak the behaviour. At the moment the laptop is in decent state with most things working properly, including suspend, wlan, multi-boot, etc.

Read on for details!

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