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Sony PictureBook PCG-C1S

Another eBay impulse-buy, this little guy came to me quickly (although AusPost is struggling during these 'unprecedented times') and in pretty good condition! It's a PCG-C1S, being the the second PictureBook model ever released.


You can see by the single mono front speaker that they didn't focus too much on multimedia. Also no memory card slots or jog dials. Sporting a 266mmx Pentium CPU, there wasn't really much horsepower to play media with anyway! The internal drive had already been upgraded from 8.1g to 20g and the ram was maxed out with 2 64mb modules.

I used my previous knowledge of booting the PCG-CD51A to get Windows 98 installed... but struggled to find a stand-alone driver for the NeoMagic 256 AV video card that'd present the correct mode for the 1024x480 resolution.

So I went digging for an Application Recovery CD and found one for a PCG-C1X on webarchive. Not being an exact match, I was a little wary... and spent way too much time trying to boot and restore the system image. Instead, I then checked the Application CD #1 and found all the required drivers on it! You could download the pack and dig in, but an easier method is just to download this zip with all the drivers in it. I've also renamed the folders in the other directory to make it obvious as to what they are.

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There's an installer in the video driver folder, but just do the usual upgrade driver process through device manager.

CMOS Battery Replacement

The BIOS reported all-too-often that the system clock was wrong, so it was time to replace the battery. Remove ALL screws underneath the unit. Once the screws are out, flip the unit back over and pry the keyboard up. Be very careful not to lever the keys up as they'll easily pop off and end up across the room. Next, take out the three screws that were under the keyboard and pry the whole case apart.

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Removing the existing battery pack is actually quite a challenge! There's a huge piece of double-sided tape and it could easily destroy the mainboard if you just try to lever the battery pack out. Instead, I dissected the pack...

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Oh shit...

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The bloody cells had corroded.. I mean, why am I surprised? Let's hope it hasn't travelled too far. The plug on the mainboard end is so small that it's hard to determine if there's any of the usual green-tinge. Either way, I went hunting and a replacement battery-pack was found on eBay. It was actually for a Dell, but the cell specifications matched. Unfortunately, the plug was too large. Instead of finding another more-correct version, I chose to splice the plug over from the dead battery pack.

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This has worked well, regardless of the fact that the new battery pack already had a tarnished ground wire which required extra heat to get soldered.

DOS Gaming

Loading up the DarkSeed ISO saw a garbled colour screen on execution. The whole system was then frozen. Using this version worked fine though!

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DOOM worked fine also, although configuring sound was a little touch-and-go. If you tried to choose Adlib for music, then no SFX would play... and Soundblaster FM produced no music. Switching back to General MIDI and SB for SFX got beautiful music, but then the SFX stopped? A reboot with the same config saw it all working again. Seems the SB Emulation can get in a muddle and nothing like a good 'ol CTRL-ALT-DEL for Windows 98 SE to the rescue.

Linux on the PictureBook

I'd previously done this with a PCG-C1VX, and that all worked fine once the modeline was added, but this version of the PictureBook required a bit of extra work. The modes were already listed in the X11 config, but on boot, X11 would error saying that the modes won't display correctly on the LCD panel!

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There's a console app called dccxinfos that lists the available modes reported by the display hardware and our mode wasn't listed! (Yes yes, the above screenshot was taken after correcting the configuration!) So, the trick, after a lot of googling, was to add the overrideValidateMode command in the config. Here's the juicy bit:

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Finally, the LILO boot screen menu is stuck at 800x600 and runs off the page, but editing /etc/lilo.conf and setting the vga option on the linux kernel load line worked for further booting.


just run lilo after editing the file above and reboot.

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