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Sony PCG-C1VS/BW PictureBook

I've always loved this form-factor. Sony did a really great job early on with their Vaio C1 Series subnotebooks. Known as the 'PictureBook' (Product Brochure), it's a pocket-sized letter-box bundle of fun. This is one of the first, from Japan, with the a Transmeta Crusoe 600mhz. You may not have heard of Transmeta... they were the first company in a long time to try and beat Intel at their game and built 'low power' but performing CPUs for the 'mobile' (laptop or hand-held touch-screen [this OQO]) device market.


It came installed with Japanese Windows 2000. Not much fun and took forever to boot, so I attempted to get Windows ME on to it. Yes... Windows ME... there's even a sticker on the machine stating that it is designed for it! I didn't have an external drive for it, so I couldn't boot off anything but the internal HDD. It can't boot off USB, so you'd need one of the proprietary Sony external PCMCIA CD-ROM drives if you wanted to go down that route.

Instead, I grabbed a larger 2.5" IDE disk that I had lying around and created a bootable partition on it. This wasn't without its own complications! I then dumped the WinME CD onto the disk into its own folder before putting the drive into the Vaio.

Swapping out the HDD

Flip the beast over and take out all of the screws with an arrow pointing to them.


Now take the battery out and pop off the two dark-purple caps. These are only clipped on, but require quite a bit of force. Edge your way around the circumference, prying them off around 3mm at a time.

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Once off, flip the laptop back up to its normal orientation and take out the screw top-left on the hinge.


Now pry the keyboard up. Be careful once it is free as there are two ribbon cables that need to be undone before the keyboard comes completely away.



All of these ribbon cables are held into the motherboard by a socket that has a removable plastic 'chock'. Grab a small flathead jewelers screwdriver and pry the chock up on both sides. Once it has shifted around 2-3mm then the cable can slide out. To put it back, lift the chock, slide the cable in and then firmly seat the chock once more.


From here, there are 3 visible screws and one hidden. The hidden one is under the barcode sticker on the middle-right. Towards the right-hand side of it. Unfortunately, if you haven't already guessed, this does void your warranty! With this all undone, you should now be able to lift this part of the case to reveal the motherboard.

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Finally, to remove the HDD, lift the ribbon that is strapped across it and undo the 4 screws that hold the HDD caddy in place. Carefully pry out the IDE cable and then lift out the whole HDD and caddy.

Windows Millenium

After slapping the new HDD in, I ran WinME Setup. Everything went smoothly until it booted into the desktop.

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The resolution, instead of scaling to fit onto the screen, stretched to only showed me the center of the total view. No real issues here... I then scoured the internet for ATI Rage Mobility M1 drivers for Millenium and came up with very little. I then managed to blue-screen the thing in a matter of seconds; although it was my fault for removing the USB key prematurely. Actually, it wasn't even a real blue-screen... just a forceful way of Windows trying to convince users to cleanly unmount disks.

At this point I realised that I probably didn't want to run WinME as the default anyway... so chose to install WinXP.

Installing Windows XP

Use a 'non-ramdrive' boot disk from AllBootDisks for Win98SE. Parition, format and sys your disk and then copy the contents of the floppy to a folder called TOOLS on C:. Also grab the relevant XP install media and then copy the whole lot into a folder called WINXPCD on the disk. Once you've transplanted the HDD back to the VAIO, boot it up, CD to TOOLS and run SMARTDRV. If it complains that HIMEM.SYS is missing, then add a CONFIG.SYS to the root of C:\ with the single line DEVICE=C:\TOOLS\HIMEM.SYS and reboot.

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Once SMARTDRV is running, switch into the C:\WINXPCD\ directory and run I386\WINNT.EXE. You'd be forgiven for thinking SETUP.EXE was the correct file; this isn't the case! The installation may ask you where the files are... if it does, usually the answer it provides is the correct one. Otherwise just give it C:\WINXPCD.

Big note: If you get any errors during install (specifically regarding "setupORG.exe" or "presetup.cmd") then you're using a crappy copy of XP and need to find a legitimate MSDN ISO. You cannot, without edits that I haven't bothered to investigate, install the ISO you are using from your HDD.

You can then get all the WinXP drivers for this machine from the Sony Japan site here. If you can't handle the Japanese, then this third-party driver site might also help.

RAM Upgrade?

This japanese blog post seems to indicate that the user bought a picturebook with a 64mb upgrade in it and, after inserting a 128mb upgrade, the machine still displayed 192mb. This aligns with the specifications that say 192mb is the max anyway. Of course, Sony has used a proprietary SIMM slot and connector, so it'll be near-impossible to find anything. They seem rare on Yahoo Auctions... but I'll keep an eye out.

Further research brought me to this page on the PCG-C1XG which lists the memory modules available. Turns out there is a Sony official product for the 64mb upgrade and one is on its way to me from Japan!


Back at the Linux User Group at ANU in Canberra, the main developer of SAMBA (Hi Trudge!) had a PictureBook and pretty much wrote all the required drivers to get the machine up and running. Back then, the RAM this machine had would've sufficed with the relevant Linux distribution. I would love to know what version that was just to match all the generations up correctly.

Meanwhile, here's a random PDF full of information on customising the OS installation. They use System Commander for the boot menu and Vine Linux for the distribution. They do expect an external CD-ROM drive though!

I might try and find an external drive for this beast... otherwise I can slap the HDD back in a virtual machine and try and start the installation that way. Maybe a netboot first, transfer to real machine with PCMCIA network card and go from there?


Vaio Duo 11 – 1TB SDD Upgrade

So, the latest in my Sony collection is a Vaio Duo 11. This 'convertible' tablet is a charm... I really love the form factor, resolution and horsepower. I had bought it with the intent to upgrade the 256gb SSD to a 1TB Samsung EVO 840 for for AUD$500.

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Step 1: Duplicate your current disk to the new disk

The goal from this entire upgrade is to have more space, not change the OS or existing data. The first step is therefore to clone the source drive (existing 256gb internal SSD) to the newly acquired Samsung 1TB SSD. To do this, you'll need to have them both plugged in at once. The Vaio Duo 11 only has one internal slot for the SSD, so an external enclosure was required.

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Do be careful with the enclosure purchased. It turns out that there are warnings across the web indicating that SSD are liable to overheat inside these tiny airtight boxes. This is exacerbated when doing a full drive clone as you're trying to read/write as quickly as you can.

As for the cloning, there's quite a few methods available, all with their own quirks. My goal was to do an exact 1:1 copy to ensure that the recovery and boot partitions was all intact. The first thought was something like gparted. Instead I stumbled across Samsung's own 'Data Migration Tool' which promised to do exactly what I wanted. This was a 4-click process and the copying started. After it completed, I checked out the disk in drive management and all was not as it should have been. The partitions didn't look 1:1... but I still then tried a reboot with the USB as the boot disk. Windows still booted and so I went with this.

Step 2: Get the new disk into the new hardware

Sony are usually pretty tricky when it comes to internal product design. They're not as 'closed' as Apple when it comes to making products as un-openable as possible, but they're not far off. There was nothing short of 20 overly-difficult screws in the bottom of this unit to remove!

NOTE: The speaker grills need to be taken off. These consist of a mesh grill with a layer of sticky gunk that's also of grill-design. You cannot remove these without ruining them. Note that you also have to take off all of the rubber feet and the 'locking areas' for the extra battery. I'm still trying to find double-sided tape to put all these back in. I might just use glue.

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In the second and last pics above you can see the slot where the SSD sits. I happened to take the photo of the unit after I'd spent about an hour trying to remove the SSD. All other sites say to remove the screws nearest the SSD and then simply pop it out. Turns out it's not this simple... that blue patch you see is a chunk of sticky spongy rubber that acts as a support for the SSD. The stickiness actually makes it VERY difficult to remove. As I'd had this unit for all of 1 day, I had no intention of breaking it and so was very gentle when tinkering with the internals. Either way, after a little more prying I realised that I had to lift the SSD off the support and then it came out. To anyone trying this at home: be careful, don't apply too much force and, if possible, find a thin utensil to slide under the SSD and release it from the gunk!

After this the new SSD slotted in very easily and all screws went back in place quite easily. As stated, I'll update again when I find a tidy solution for putting the feet and grills back.

Step 3: Booting up the copied disk...

Well, it booted straight into windows and looked good. I then went into the disk management studio and realised that I was in trouble. There were partitions directly after my main partition which meant that there was no clean way to expand it! I therefore considered and attempted to 'restore' windows. Doing this inside windows should have been easy until it told me that it couldn't find the recovery partition! I then rebooted with the assist key and it also said the recovery partition was missing! Thanks to the Samsung Data Migration Tool, all of my partitions were out of whack.

Step 4: The Samsung Data Migration Tool sucks...

I had no intention of removing the SSD again... so I decided to do this copy in reverse. The old disk was in the external enclosure and then new one internal. I downloaded clonezilla and attempted a copy but it failed miserably telling me that it couldn't determine the partition table type... meh... probably to do with UEFI?

So the next step was to go all low-level. 'dd' is the tool and it will byte-by-byte copying _everything_ from the given source to the given destination. I'd known my device names thanks to the menu options in the clonezilla attempt, so I entered the following command:

dd if=/dev/sdc of=/dev/sda

It started going... I went to make a coffee, got back and found it had prematurely stopped. I checked that the USB was still mounted, all good. Then I went to pick up the USB and nearly burnt a hole in my palm! The thing was red hot. It turns out that this Toshiba drive does not bode well in this external enclosure. It's all over the web... should've checked.

Anyway, I left it to cool for a few hours then came back with a plan.

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My jug'o'water heatsink-cooler worked perfectly and the copy completed... I even had the running progress meter:

dd if=/dev/sdc bs=1024M | pv | dd of=/dev/sda bs=1024M

After a reboot, all partitions looked good and recovery started, but I didn't run through with it. I'd google'd a little in the meantime and realised that windows creates a recovery partition every bloody time you upgrade significantly. In this case it was from Windows 8.0 to 8.1. If I then removed a partition I'd kill my ability to recover.

Instead I just created a new partition in the space at the end of the drive and called it D:

Step 5: Actually getting that disk space back...

So, a little more googling indicated that there was indeed a way around the recovery partitions. The purchase of an 32gb (MUST BE THIS BIG) thumb drive allowed me to copy the recovery partition onto it and then remove them from the disk. I could then expand my main drive without too much screwing around.


Linux Mint 17 on the Sony Vaio UX490N UMPC

Right, this thing is powerful... Windows Vista came installed as default and there was no other choice than to replace with a Linux Distro. I scoured Distrowatch for a valid distribution, but had already had Linux Mint in mind.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is fork of Ubuntu which is a distribution based on Debian.


Due to the age of the hardware, 32-bit was chosen and the ISO was downloaded. I then acquired a tool named Rufus which allows you to easily smush an ISO onto a USB stick. This stick is then bootable and we can install our distro.

The actual installation of Mint is painless... of course, you need to know how to partition and or WIPE all of your data, but that's something that I already expect you to know. One nice point is that if you choose "side-by-side" then the installer will resize your primary partition. I should check that the base Vista installation still works!



Sure, the UX is damn handy... but the thumb-typing can be really tiresome... even if our new shells have auto-complete. Due to this, you may want to remote in from your desktop via SSH. By default, SSH isn't installed. Run the following to install it. Yes, note that we install 'ssh'... I initially expected to install sshd, but the ssh package includes this.

sudo apt-get install ssh

Press 'yes' when prompted to download the additional packages. apt-get just warns you if there are dependencies over the single package you asked for.
You can now log in to your machine on port 22. Use the account you created when you installed Mint.



dmesg gets spammed with eth0 link-up, link-down messages. I imagine the device is in the unit and the dock provides the physical port?
Either way, disable it permanently:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

Add the following line:

sudo ifconfig eth0 down

Just before 'exit 0'. File should then look like:

#!/bin/sh -e
# rc.local
# This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other
# value on error.
# In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
# By default this script does nothing.

sudo ifconfig eth0 down

exit 0


The Vaio UX comes with a Gunze touchscreen. This works out of the box, but isn't correct calibrated by default. Once you have Mint installed, run the following in a shell:

sudo apt-get install xinput-calibrator

Once this is installed, we can now run it to get our touchscreen aligned.
Note the underscore in the executable, whereas the package had a hyphen!


Follow the on-screen prompts. Touch the points with the stylus when asked.
You'll then be provided a configuration to store against X11:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier      "calibration"
        MatchProduct    "GUNZE USB Touch Panel"
        Option  "Calibration"   "34 992 34 970"
        Option  "SwapAxes"      "0"

There'll be a whole lot of output... it'll even tell you where to store the configuration. Unfortunately the location they specify is incorrect. Mint wants the file in a different area. Copy the section that matches the chunk above (chances are it's exactly the same) into the clipboard and then run the following:

sudo nano /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/99-calibration.conf

Paste the configuration you copied and save your file.
Reboot your device just for fun... your touchscreen should now behave as expected when you touch the furthest corners!

ALPS Trackpoint

This wasn't fun... Under windows, you can disable the 'tapping'. This, just like a touchpad (of which the trackpoint is not) is the action of hitting the device with a single, focused prod. The expectation is then a 'left mouse button' click. As stated, you can easily disable this in windows, but you don't get that option out of the box on Mint.

I started hacking apart the xf86-input-evdev, but realised that disabling mouse buttons on the trackpoint meant the left-hand physical buttons were also switched off.

Fortunately, our friend Lawrence Wu on github has hacked the psmouse kernel driver for us. He's lowered the sensitivity so that our taps need to be serious in order to be registered.

The driver is managed by dkms which allows a substitute driver to be loaded in replacement of the built-in kernel driver. Below are the instructions for doing so. (Note that these have been copied and annotated from Lawrence's page. All credit to him! We thank you a lot!)

cd /usr/src/
sudo wget
sudo unzip
sudo rm
sudo mv psmouse-ux-master psmouse-ux
sudo dkms add -m psmouse -v ux
sudo dkms build -m psmouse -v ux
sudo dkms install -m psmouse -v ux

At this point, as long as there has been no errors... then DKMS has hold of a tasty new psmouse driver for your trackpoint.
Let's swap it in. It's as simple as unloading the current psmouse, then reloading it. The original kernel driver is currently loaded and will be unloaded:

sudo modprobe -r psmouse

You'll note from here that your mouse doesn't work... we've removed the link from the hardware to the windowing system. Mouse events are no longer making it through the pipes... now... let's reload what seems to be the same driver.

sudo modprobe psmouse

No output... no messages... just a mouse cursor! Try your hardest to make that little rodent 'tap'!...


There wasn't been an up-to-date driver... so I further modified the driver from PCNetSpec's post. See more information on how this happened here. Meanwhile, the instructions are as follows:

(Please disregard the warnings... I'll fix these at a later date.)

unzip r5u870
cd r5u870/
sudo make install
sudo modprobe r5u870

Note: This is still a work in progress... Once it's working here, I'll post the final instructions.


Introducing my new Sony Vaio UX490N

Have wanted one of these things for ages... finally bought one on eBay.
There used to be tons of them in Sofmap in Denden Town, Osaka.... but they were too dear for what was offered.


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See my other posts under the 'Vaio UX' Category for instructions, hints, etc...

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