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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.


About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Finally I will be able to use my UX92NS under linux.
    Thank you!

  2. Wow, I think I may have to consider this route for my Sony UX as my Ubuntu 12.04 installation is getting rather old, plus it is now unsupported. Although my UX had theupgraded u7700 core2duo CPU capable of 64Bit instructions at that time I opted to install Ubuntu 12.04 in 32bit. Now I am in bit of a fix as firstly ubuntu 12.04 is no longer supported, and some apps I want to use now require 64bit! I would update to a fresh install for 14.04 64bit, but the GPU driver is not as good, ie GPU default to very low performance when externally connected to VGA!. The quick fix is to disable the internal display in init.d but it is a hastle to have to change and reboot each time to change over. Also 14.04 performance seems a little laggy compared to 12.04 on my UX. It is this reason I am thinking of converting to Linux Mint. Did you use Cinamon? How is the performance, ie how much of the 1Gb RAM is left post boot.. Also does hibernate, suspend work and if so does hybrid hibernate work?


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