Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid Lynx On Vaio VPCEA36FG

Due to a sudden death of my beloved M300, I’m back in the market for a new laptop. And despite the bad news I have been hearing right and left, I’m sticking to yet another  notebook with ATI discrete graphic chip, this time the ATI HD5650 😀

My wallet voted for Sony Vaio VPCEA36FG, a much higher specced unit than the M300, but comes with less gimmick. From my research the E series of the Vaio family doesn’t play nice with Linux/Ubuntu. But the spec was so good..and I just had to 😀 Well, it is cheap. What I miss:

  • a dedicated volume rocker. Volume is controlled with Fn+Fx button combos, which sadly refuse to respond when I’m playing a session of World of Goo
  • I don’t like chiclet keyboard, especially the one that comes with the 36FG
  • Media buttons. Yes, they are gimmicky, but I use them quite often to fire up exaile
  • The Harman Kardon built in speakers. They sound so good in M300, I rarely hooked the laptop to my creative desktop speakers. By comparison, the 36FG built-in speakers are.. well.. underwhelming
  • FireWire port, USB just sucks for large external storage such as My MyBook 1TB external HDD
  • ..And what I missed the most is the sensible port placement of the M300. The 36FG headphone jack is placed at the front, which will make the wire of my HD202 fall under my desk 😦 hate that. And it gets even more annoying when I have to plug in my desktop speaker, since the cable has to travel way around to the front 😦
  • … Did I mention that I don’t like chiclet keyboard?

What works out of the box:

  • Networks, wired, wireless. My decision of purchasing the 36FG is based on my research that it uses intel chip for wireless 🙂
  • Bluetooth
  • SD Card reader, I haven’t tried the memory stick slot
  • The ATI HD5650. It was a standard fare of activating the proprietary driver from System>Administration>Hardware Drivers
  • eSATA
  • Hibernation. Yay! 😀
  • oh, and the Webcam

Not yet tested:

  • HDMI port,
  • Intel Turbo Boost

Not working out of the box:

  • Touchpad. But if you can get it to work, it’s great
  • Sound. This is a common issue with Intel HD sound chip. Meh 😦
  • The Fn+Fx combos for brightness adjustment don’t work

The installation of Lucid is of course straight forward. As soon as I’m in the Live CD I noticed that the touchpad didn’t work at all. Slapped my wireless Microsoft (blargh), and went ahead with installation. 30 minutes later, I was presented with a familiar login screen. Still no touchpad.


To get the touchpad working, you need to fire up your choice of text editor,

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo nano /etc/default/grub

add GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”i8042.noloop i8042.nomux i8042.reset i8042.nopnp splash” at the bottom of your /etc/default/grub file. Then update the grub configuration:

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo update-grub

Reboot, and the touchpad should be working.

On a plus side, the 36FG touchpad support multitouch, such as two finger scrolling. First, create a script to activate two finger scrolling,

surfer@m5-m3:~$ nano /home/surfer/.scripts/touchpad.sh

Put this inside touchpad.sh :

sleep 20
xinput set-int-prop "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" "Two-Finger Scrolling" 8 1
xinput set-int-prop "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" "Synaptics Two-Finger Scrolling" 8 1 1
xinput set-int-prop "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" "Synaptics Two-Finger Pressure" 32 10
xinput set-int-prop "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" "Synaptics Two-Finger Width" 32 8

Update: Sometimes, the script failed to work when it was loaded before some other service from my startup app list. So I add a 20s delay on the script.  Set the script to be executable, by opening a terminal window, and type:

surfer@m5-m3:~$ chmod 755 /home/surfer/.scripts/touchpad.sh

To get two finger scrolling works right away, just execute the script. Press Alt+F2, click on the “Run With File” button, and browse to your script (the .scripts directory is hidden, so you’ll need to right click anywhere on the newly opened window, and check the “show hidden file” option), and then press run. To get it to work on automatically, set the script to be executed at login. Go to System>Preferences>Startup Applications. Press Add, name the startup program, click browse, and find your script. Click save, and make sure it is checked on the list, press Close.


This one is a bit complicated. First, to update the ALSA package. Do

surfer@m5-m3:/$sudo apt-get build-essential

Check the ALSA version installed on the machine:

surfer@m5-m3:/$ cat /proc/asound/version
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.21.

Next, get alsa-driver, alsa-library, and alsa-util packages. Untar, and compile

surfer@m5-m3:~/sound$ tar -xjvf alsa-driver-1.0.23.tar.bz2
surfer@m5-m3:~/sound$ cd alsa-driver-1.0.23/
surfer@m5-m3:~/sound/alsa-driver-1.0.23$ ./configure
surfer@m5-m3:~/sound/alsa-driver-1.0.23$ make
surfer@m5-m3:~/sound/alsa-driver-1.0.23$ sudo make install

Do the same for the remaining 2 packages. Reboot, and check the ALSA version again. It should be on 1.0.23:

surfer@m5-m3:/$ cat /proc/asound/version
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.23.
Compiled on Oct 29 2010 for kernel 2.6.32-25-generic (SMP)

…But…. Turns out the sound only partially works. When I’m streaming video on youtube, exaile is muted, and vice versa. Oh well 😦

After some reading I found out that this was caused by some program that tried get straight to ALSA instead of routing their request to pulseaudio. To fix this do:

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo apt-get install asoundconf-gtk

Next, go to Systems>Preferences>Default Sound Card. Select PulseAudio at the dropdown menu, press quit. Sound should be working now 🙂

Brightness Adjustment

This one is a bit annoying. First create a script for the brightness up and down event:

brightness up:

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo nano /etc/acpi/events/sony-brightness-up

Write this into the file, and then save

# /etc/acpi/events/sony-brightness-up
event=sony/hotkey SNC 00000001 00000011

Next, create the /etc/acpi/brightup.sh that was revered by the above script.

sudo nano /etc/acpi/brightup.sh

Write this inside the file:

curr=`cat /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/actual_brightness`
if [ $curr -lt 8 ]; then
echo $curr  > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness;

Save, we’re done for brightness up. Pressing Fn+F6 should now increase the brightness of the LCD. Now for the brightness down.

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo nano /etc/acpi/events/sony-brightness-up

Put this inside the file:

# /etc/acpi/events/sony-brightness-down
event=sony/hotkey SNC 00000001 00000010

Create the /etc/acpi/brightdown.sh

surfer@m5-m3:/$ sudo nano /etc/acpi/brightdown.sh

Put this inside the file:

curr=`cat /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/actual_brightness`
if [ $curr -gt 0 ]; then
echo $curr  > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness;

Save. Pressing Fn+F5 should now decrease the screen brightness.

Well.. Everything that I want are working. I’m quite happy. Next step are to install Firefox 4 beta, dropbox, and blueman 🙂


26 Comments Add yours

  1. Suresh says:

    Thank you for you posting. I am VPCEA36FG same problem i got touch pad not working and video not good.
    ubuntu 10.10 32 bit

    i have tried you steps
    step 1:
    suresh@ubuntu:~$ sudo nano /etc/default/grub
    i have add
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”i8042.noloop i8042.nomux i8042.reset i8042.nopnp splash”
    suresh@ubuntu:~$ sudo update-grub
    /etc/default/grub: 11: i8042.nomux: not found

    i got like that help me how to slow please


    1. ikhsan says:


      Try changing the line to include only the nopnp option. So the line should look like this:

      GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”i8042.nopnp splash”

      1. suresh says:

        Hai Ikhsan,
        Thank you very much for your fast reply
        I am using default os windows 7 pre 64bit.and i have install ubuntu 10.10 32 bit inside windows dual os in VPCEA36FG. is it any problem for 64 bit windows and 32 bit ubuntu. and my video also not good some shadows coming please help me. and once any thanks for your form.

      2. ikhsan says:

        I’m also dual booting into Win7 64-bit and Lucid Lynx. The 36FG is equipped with ATI graphic chip, have you tried to install the proprietary driver from ATI?

        Connect to the internet, then go to System > Administration > Hardware Drivers. Select the “ATI/AMD proprietary graphics driver” and click on the “activate” button. The driver will be automatically downloaded and installed on your notebook. After the installation process is finished, restart your laptop.

      3. suresh says:

        have you install lucid lynx 32 bit or 64 bit installed.
        i have gave GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”i8042.nopnp splash”
        then i got error in 10.10 32 bit ubuntu

        suresh@ubuntu:~$ sudo update-grub
        /etc/default/grub: 11: splash”: not found

      4. ikhsan says:


        Please leave out the “splash” option too. So the line will look like this:


        I have 32-bit Lucid installed

      5. suresh says:

        hai.please help sorry for disturb you. your are my only can solve problem.

        i got error after update not working touch pad.

        root@ubuntu:/home/suresh# sudo update-grub
        Generating grub.cfg …
        cat: /boot/grub/video.lst: No such file or directory
        Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.35-22-generic
        Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-2.6.35-22-generic
        Found Windows Vista (loader) on /dev/sda1
        Found Windows 7 (loader) on /dev/sda2

  2. suresh says:

    hai thanks

    thank you thank you very much now working touch pad…..

    note every one: dont copy and paste line please type because ” and ” different

    please help

    step 2

    Press Alt+F2, click on the “Run With File” button, and browsr to your script, and then press run. To get it to work on automatically, set the script to be executed at login.

    if create .scripts folder can show on alt+F2 in run with file
    help me

    where can i add

    Put this inside touchpad.sh :

    xinput set-int-prop “SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad” “Two-Finger Scrolling” 8 1
    xinput set-int-prop “SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad” “Synaptics Two-Finger Scrolling” 8 1 1
    xinput set-int-prop “SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad” “Synaptics Two-Finger Pressure” 32 10
    xinput set-int-prop “SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad” “Synaptics Two-Finger Width” 32 8

  3. suresh says:

    sorry above some mistake

    step 2

    i can create folder >/home/suresh/.scripts/touchpad.sh

    i add your line
    but after Press Alt+F2, click on the “Run With File” button, and browsr to my script can’t show .script file so i have create /home/suresh/scripts/touchpad.sh and then press run. i got only my file not run

    1. ikhsan says:

      a file or folder with “.” at the beginning of the name will be hidden by default. After pressing the “run with file” button, you’ll need to right click on the newly opened windows, and check “show hidden files”

      Anyway, we can go ahead with what you have already done.

      Open a terminal window:
      Applications > Accessories > Terminal
      Make the touchpad.sh executable:
      chmod 755 /home/suresh/scripts/touchpad.sh

      I will add this on my tutorial also

      after that, try the alt+F2 step again

  4. noob says:

    Worked! Awesomeness!

  5. Anoop Gopinath says:

    there is no changes happend after creating the script for brightnessup and down , the problem for brightness up and down is begins after installing graphis driver, before installing driver function keys are working

    1. ikhsan says:

      This post is valid for Ubuntu 10.04 (and in some case 10.10) on Sony Vaio VPCEA36FG. Please make sure that both apply to your case.

  6. ian says:

    please help me , I can’t enable the desktop effect on may sony vaio vpcea36fg , please

    1. ikhsan says:

      To enable desktop effect on your VPCEA36FG, you need to install the proprietary driver from ATI. To do that, make sure your vaio is connected to the internet, and then go to System > Administration > Hardware Drivers. It should list ATI/AMD Proprietary FGLRX graphics driver. Select it, and press the activate button at the bottom of the window. Then it should start downloading the binary driver, and install it to your notebook. It then will ask you to reboot your notebook. Do so.

      After the reboot, you’ll be able to enable the desktop effect by going to System > Preferences > Appearance. Go to the visual effect tab, and select normal or extra. To get more granular setup on desktop effect, open synaptic package manager, then search and install simple-ccsm or compizconfig-settings-manager

  7. shanu says:

    i installed Ubuntu 10.10 in vaio VPCEA36FG but its touch pad is not working. please reply soon.

    1. ikhsan says:

      The instruction that I put on the post above should work with maverick (10.10) With some minor alteration. Instead of using:

      GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="i8042.noloop i8042.nomux i8042.reset i8042.nopnp splash"

      use this:


      save the file, then update the grub setting:

      sudo update-grub


      1. shanu says:

        it not worked

      2. ikhsan says:

        please share your /etc/default/grub file here

  8. shanu says:

    # If you change this file, run ‘update-grub’ afterwards to update
    # /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

    GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`

    # Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs
    # This works with Linux (no patch required) and with any kernel that obtains
    # the memory map information from GRUB (GNU Mach, kernel of FreeBSD …)

    # Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)

    # The resolution used on graphical terminal
    # note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
    # you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo’

    # Uncomment if you don’t want GRUB to pass “root=UUID=xxx” parameter to Linux

    # Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries

    # Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
    #GRUB_INIT_TUNE=”480 440 1″

    1. shanu says:

      my /etc/default/grub file is above

    2. ikhsan says:

      I see that you haven’t edited your /etc/default/grub.

      go to Applications > Accessories > Terminal,

      open your /etc/default/grub:

      sudo nano /etc/default/grub

      go to the 10th line, change the




      Ctrl+x to close nano, press “y” to save the change
      next on the terminal do:
      sudo update-grub

      then reboot.

      1. shanu says:

        thanks a lot. now it is working.

      2. ikhsan says:

        glad to hear that 🙂

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