Running Debian on the Sony VGN-TZ21VN

This page describes my experiences in getting Debian/GNU Linux (Etch release, 4.01) to run on this laptop.


Most things work out-of-the box. Nice, given the nightmares I remember on then-up-to-date laptops 10 years ago.
Camera does not work, HSDPA modem only works when booting after a soft-reset from Vista. Fingerprint sensor tools not available in Debian standard sources, so not yet tested.


The device is called Sony VGP-VCC7, built from the Ricoh R5U870 chipset. It pretends to be UVC capable, but needs to have its firmware uploaded. This is what lsusb sees:
Bus 005 Device 005: ID 05ca:183a Ricoh Co., Ltd

The firmware is located in the Windows driver file R5U870FLx86.sys that can be found in your C:\Drivers\Camera\VGP-VCC7\ directory.
Mine has firmware version 0x0111, and md5sum says df4dbd3c9a6fac6f805ff62fb186ed65  R5U870FLx86.sys.

To get it into the format the the r5u870 driver expects I used the following script: recode-fw.scm. You will need to have guile installed to run it.

Once you have extracted the firmware into r5u870_183a.fw you can patch the r5u870-0.10.0 driver (here's a local copy) using
this file: r5u870-0.10.0-vcc7patch. (I'm still waiting for a reply from the driver's author whether he'll incorporate my changes in a new release.)


There is a builtin 3G/GSM modem, which is based on Option's "Globetrotter Module HSDPA GTM378" chipset. If detected correctly by the kernel it works nicely with the option.ko (and usbserial.ko) driver module, since its ID (0af0:6901) is well-known. However, 2.6.18, 2.6.21 and 2.6.22 do not properly detect it, unless they are booted after a soft-reset of Vista, which presumably initializes it. I am still investigating this issue, since the system setup is apparently a bit strange:


powertop  suggests a large number of  powersaving possibilities, extending battery life with the extra-capacity battery on an unconnected system (no ethernet, no wlan, no cdrom autodetect, no bluetooth) to more than 8 hours. Nice.


Alsa driver snd_hda_intel works nicely, even though it complains about an unknown device:
hda_codec: Unknown model for ALC262, trying auto-probe from BIOS...

Utz-Uwe Haus, 2007-10-10 Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional