Monday, August 20, 2012

Ubuntu on the Vaio S series

At the end of the spring I have bought a new laptop, my previous one (Samsung Q…. not sure what the exact model was too slow for me). My choice came to the Vaio S series from Sony, it’s a nice laptop with hi-res screen and keyboard illumination (which is important for me when I code in the night).

It has pre-installed windows OS, but recently I tried to move all developments to linux and what a surprise.. after installing ubuntu on it, the laptop was heating like crazy.
So after digging more into the subject I have tried the following things:
  • Tried gnome shell
  • Installed “battery indicator” (for those who’re interested see ppa below) and switched to Powersave mode.
  • Installed proprietary drivers for the video card (this was my biggest mistake because after installing them unity switched to 2D mode and gnome shell was loading only in classic mode).
  • Dancing with a tambourine and putting ice around the laptop..
After a few hours of searching I finally found what the problem was, the vaio has a hybrid video card (it has integrated card on the motherboard and another ATI video card for faster graphics). You may switch between these modes using the STAMINA/SPEED switch and it works very well on Windows but unfortunately no drivers available for Ubuntu.

Well the solution is to use vgaswitcheroo mechanism to turn the ATI card off. Here is how to do this:
  1. Edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
  2. Add the the following line to the end of the file:
    blacklist radeon
  3. Then edit /etc/rc.local file
  4. And add the following code before exit 0
    modprobe radeon
    chown -R $USER:$USER /sys/kernel/debug
    echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
  5. Restart PC
To check if the above worked open a terminal and execute:
sudo less /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
If output is similar to this:
Then all worked fine and your PC becomes less noisy.
1:DIS: :Off:0000:01:00.0


Battery Indicator applet

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:iaz/battery-status
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install battery-status


  1. omg. i seriously don't know how to thank you for this. i have been looking for a solution for the very same problem for ages. you're a genius, thanks :D


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