Laptop for FreeBSD

Jeremy Prior jez at netcraft.com
Thu Jul 13 14:40:25 BST 2000


On Wed, Jul 12, 2000 at 03:59:30PM +0100, Neil Ford wrote:
# I know this is probably going to elicit a hundred different answers, but what
# the heck :-)
# 
# I'm looking to get a laptop to run FreeBSD on. Budget is not unlimited so I do
# expect to have to compromise.
# 
# Main requirements are;
#   Known to work with FreeBSD (incl. sound, suspend/resume, etc.)
#   NO built-in modem (it's not going to work anyways and I have a perfectly
#     good PCMCIA one anyway)
#   1024x768 screen resolution
#   Expandable to 256Mb (will eventually want to run multiple VMware sessions)
#   2 PCMCIA slots (save swapping the modem and the network card)
# 
# I know Brian and Nik have Sony Vaios (from the F400 range I think, now sadly
# looking like thay've been discontinued) and I think I saw at least one Dell at
# the weekend, but all suggestions are welcome.

Hi Neil!

As someone who has recently done this, here's my experiences with
running -STABLE on a new model VAIO:

I've recently acquired my first laptop - a Sony VAIO Z600RE which
I can heartily recommend.  I could ramble on about it for hours
(apologies to anyone at the Oxford Meet that I bored doing this! :-)

    http://www.vaio.sony-europe.com/facts/z600/info.htm

 From a hardware spec pov, it basically meets all of your requirements:

  - Intel PIII/500MHz;
  - 128MB RAM (std) upgradable to 256MB;
  - 12GB disk;
  - 12.1" LCD display 1024x768
  - On-board Intel EtherExpress Pro 100 ethernet (fxp0);
  - 1 Type-II PCMCIA slot (although, with built-in ethernet,
    that's not really a problem)
  - External Floppy (USB) and CD-ROM (PCMCIA);
  - PCMCIA modem card

(I notice that there's now a Z600NE - same spec as RE, but with
650MHz PIII and built-in modem!)

It also has some very nice features that are not currently supported by
FreeBSD: FireWire (i.Link/IEEE-1394), Memory Stick to name but two!

My installation experiences were:

  * Installation was relatively painless.  The machine is shipped
    with one 12GB windows partition, which needs to be shrunk (or
    blown away) before FreeBSD can be installed.  FIPS wouldn't do
    this, but Partition Magic would.

  * Although the machine can boot from CD, FreeBSD-4.0-RELEASE
    couldn't then find the CD-ROM drive.  As PAO doesn't work under
    FreeBSD-4, I ended up copying the contents of the CDs onto the
    windows partition and doing a DOS installation.

Once up-and-running, it was fairly easy to get the configuration
working:

  * The USB floppy appears as a camified SCSI disk (da0), and the
    (optional) USB wheel mouse works fine.

  * The PCMCIA CD-ROM drive also works okay with the right
    pccard.conf entry.

  * XFree86-3 and -4 both installed without problems, configured
    to use the NeoMagic 256AV graphics chipset.

  * Suspend/Resume work okay, although there's a problem with the
    USB controller not being reset properly on resume (Nick Hibma
    patched it for me at the meeting - the proper fix should be
    going into the tree rsn).

The only outstanding issue for me is the lack of sound!  The machine
uses the Yamaha DS-XG sound chip, and I've not managed to get it
working under FreeBSD.  Installing OSS (http://www.opensound.com/
- a version for -4 due end of this month) or upgrading to -current
are suggested solutions, although I've not tried either.

I'll willingly pass on any information/experience/config files that
I've gained from this exercise.

jez
-- 
Jeremy Prior  <jez at netcraft.co.uk>  http://www.netcraft.co.uk/
 Netcraft Ltd,  1 Somerset Street,  Bath,  BA1 1TS,  England.
  Tel: +44-1225-404405 (direct-dial)   Fax: +44-1225-404401




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