Update

I broke this Ubuntu install when trying to replace grub with burg :(. I've been wanting to try out distros like Meego, ChromeOS or even Android. I will post if I manage to get something work.

Tried a recent version of Splashtop but that doesn't go past the splash screen. My general recommendation is not to buy this and go for something with full Linux support - netbooks/notebooks from system76 for example. If you have bought this, then read on!

I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on a Sony Vaio P series laptop recently. These are some notes I took during the process.

The Vaio VPCP11Z9E has the form factor of a netbook and is extremely light (600g approx) but has features not normally found in a netbook - WWAN, GPS etc., Here is a rundown of the specifications

  • Intel® Atom™ Processor Z560
  • 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 128 GB SSD Flash Drive
  • 8.0 inch display with 1600 x 768 max resolution
  • Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 500
  • GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G WWAN, Webcam etc.,

Full specifications here The system came pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional, a lightweight Splashtop Linux instant on partition for web access and a Windows 7 recovery partition.

Installation

The Ubuntu desktop live cd iso can be downloaded from here. The same page has instructions on how to use the downloaded iso.

Check Step 2 Burn your CD or create a USB drive

Once the live system was running, I did the installation from there.

Here are some screenshots

Timezone selection

Timezone selection

Selecting keyboard layout

Keyboard selection

/dev/sdb was my USB drive. Selected 'No'

Prepare disk space (partitioning)

Prepare partitions

Confirm partition changes and installation

Confirm installation

Create new user

Create new user

Installation progress

Installation progress

Configuration

Activate wireless functions in Windows

Before configuration, it is essential to boot to Windows 7 and activate all wireless related functions. This can be done from the network applet in system tray. I came to know about this from some forum posts and don't understand why this is the case! For example, if bluetooth is switched off on Windows, bluetooth functionality is disabled in Ubuntu.

Activate Wireless functions

Graphics card (Intel GMA500)

The Intel Poulsbo drivers were not installed during the installation process and need to be installed separately. Without this, the response was slow though the screen resolution was at maximum. I followed instructions from the Ubuntu wiki to get Intel drivers installed. To summarize what I did here.

Open Terminal (gnome-terminal)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gma500/ppa && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install poulsbo-driver-2d poulsbo-driver-3d poulsbo-config

The wiki also suggested changing grub parameters:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Change:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash mem=1900mb nohz=off"

followed by:

sudo update-grub

Reboot to use the new drivers.

Audio

This is the only major issue I have at the moment. There is no sound through the built-in speakers. It works when I connect the headset that came with the system. Microphone works too. I tested this by making a Skype test call.

Update: Audio from internal speakers work with Ubuntu 10.10.

WiFi

Worked. Just needed to select the access point and specify the passphrase. Got connected immediately.

Bluetooth

Phone

Paired my Motorola Milestone and could send and receive files.

Headset

Paired a Jabra BT3030 stereo headset and could route audio to it. I had to select the device in the Output tab of 'Sound Preferences'

Select bluetooth device as output

The sound wasn't great at first as it was using "Telephony Duplex (HSP/HFP)" profile for the headset. Changing this to "High Fidelity Playback (A2DP)" for a better quality audio.

Enable A2DP for bluetooth headset

Function (Fn) keys

The keys for controling volume, brightness work.

Wireless WAN (3G)

SIM from a 3G modem can be inserted into a dedicated slot which can be accessed after removing the battery pack. The device then appears in Network Manager and a connection can be setup. It still needs the wireless switch to be left "On" to work.

Mobile broadband

Webcam

Appears to work as I could take a photo but then there is no display either in Skype or Cheese which I used for testing.

Trackball and touchpad on the sides of the display

Both work now. Thanks to Alex (see comments). Add

i8042.reset i8042.nomux i8042.nopnp i8042.noloop

to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT in /etc/default/grub and do an

sudo update-grub

Not tested

GPS

Additional software

I could easily find and install most of the software I needed using the 'Synaptic Package Manager'.  I also installed Boxee and Google Chrome by downloading the deb packages from the respective websites.

Performance

Here is a video I took which might give an idea about the performance of the laptop. First, I tried playing a youtube HD video. Playback is fine but no video is displayed in fullscreen which I tried towards the end of the playback. This could be an issue with Flash as VLC and Boxee work fine in full screen. Then I opened Gimp and loaded a 1.3mb file. This is followed by launching OpenOffice, Firefox and Chrome.

To summarize, I find Ubuntu working really well on the Vaio P and have no problem using it for day to day tasks. But, I would not consider using it as my main laptop and would avoid the small screen if possible.