OpenSuSE Linux on Sony Vaio VPCSB – User Review

Hi today I was using my new laptop (well it has about 1 month now) and I thought in sharing my usage experience with it. My Vaio is a VPCSB and I run it with OpenSuSE 11.4 X86_64.
I have a thing for Sony Vaios, this one is my 4th. I like Vaios for their build quality, looks, performance and size as I also travel quite a bit.
I’m not a gamer at all so what I value for my computer usage is:

1 – Size (13 inches or smaller)
2 – Weight (2Kg or lower)
3 – Looks
4 – Display quality
5 – Battery endurance
6 – Performance (CPU, Memory, IO)
7 – Number of IO ports (USB, VGA, DVI, Network cards, DVD or Blue-ray in this case, GSM card)
8 – Extras (Illuminated keyboard, hybrid video systems, etc)
9 – And the most important item… Linux compatibility as it will be my choice OS

So after breaking my old Vaio display, I researched a lot (and not only Vaios), I bought this VPCSB, my expectations were very high as my last laptop, a Vaio SZXN was (and still is because it was fixed) an excellent laptop. It worked flawlessly for 4 years with about 12 hours run everyday, lots of traveling, lots of airplane usage and with minor upgrades on memory (2GB ram to 4GB) and a major upgrade this year on the hard drive where I bought a Samsung high performance SSD.
Well, back to the new computer let’s start on the hardware listing (including lscpi and lsusb output):

CPU:  Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30GHz
RAM: 6GB
HD:SAMSUNG MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family PCI Express Root Port (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev b4)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev b4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 3 (rev b4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev b4)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM65 Express Chipset Family LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc NI Seymour [AMD Radeon HD 6470M] (rev ff)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 1000
03:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5209 (rev 01)
04:00.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation uPD720200 USB 3.0 Hayt Controller (rev 04)
05:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 06)

Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0c45:64b5 Microdia
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0489:e00f Foxconn / Hon Hai Foxconn T77H114 BCM2070 [Single-Chip Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Adapter]
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub

So running with Linux (OpenSuSE) what works and what doesn’t work?
Easy there are only 2 things that aren’t running on Linux:
1 – Finger print reader (Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc. )
2 – Touch-pad with multi-touch although it works fine with single-touch
Maybe the multi-touch function can be activated but to be sincere I didn’t pay much attention to it.
The fingerprint is not working due to Sony (they are failing on us here), the multi touch has a signed firmware that doesn’t allow any application to use it, so it needs a Sony interface application to communicate with the system.

What runs and should have trouble running?
The webcams are known to be prone to have trouble and this one works like a charm.
The internal GSM card also works perfectly in Linux (ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem), just a note, I disabled the PIN request on the ISP chip, I did this because from time to time I lost communication with the GSM device after suspending to ram or disk.
The Ati Radeon card works really well with the fglrx driver (even the hybrid features).

What didn’t I tested / used till now:
I never tried to use the blue-ray functions, I’ve recorded and CDs and DVDs but never used blue-ray disks (I just have some Playstation 3 games on blue-ray)

User experience and usability:
Let me say it this way… I LOVE MY NEW VAIO!
It’s small yet powerful, it has a nice amount of ram, fast SSD, good battery life. The display is great, altought the view angles aren’t that good.
In what concerns to mobility I can’t find anything better, I really like the Intel wireless device (supporting 801.11B,G,N), the GSM card it a major feature and it’s a really nice feature to have if you move a lot, and the usual ethernet port also deliveries good performance.
What I don’t like at all are the mouse buttons, they are hard to press and noisy. The same happens to the fan if you’re running at full speed (like compiling a kernel), it will get noisy, but you’re just working on Libreoffice, using FireFox it will be just fine.
On the other hand the lightened keyboard is great for working late at home or in the plane, you’ll not be searching for keys anymore.

Conclusion
Do I tell you to buy this one?
YES, it’s small, fast, pretty and it will deliver, you’ll be able to work full days on this one without miss your desk computer 🙂

PS – What do I like more than my new Vaio?
My new tablet, I’ve also bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but I’ll write about it sometime.
Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

 

Hard reset on linux command line.

Linux is not Windows and if reboot fail you usually still connect by SSH and do something. This commands will show you how to remotely hard reboot machine.

Hard reboot mean that shutdown scripts will not run and machine reboot immediately without syncing hard disk drives, shutdown applications etc, it’s like hitting the reset button on your server.

 

echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger

This commands enable sysrq and after this calls fast reboot. If you want to force shutdown machine try this.
Force shutdown

 

echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

echo o > /proc/sysrq-trigger

This came handy, when I had a server that had some IO error and it can no longer read from disk, only few cached binaries into memory kept it running (kernel, SSHD, bash), I could still access the machine via SSH but can no longer do anything, forcing the reboot as mentioned above was my only resort, and it worked like charm…

Using cat,ssh and dd to copy ISOs

Hi!
After a long time without posting on the blog here I come again with a tiny command line that can speed up the usual method of copying large amounts of data.

Sometime ago a college gave me a DVD that I would like to keep to myself but that other 2 colleges wanted too. I used dd, cat and ssh for the task. Taking less that 5 minutes to do it all.

First I started the .iso creation with dd:

dd if=/dev/cdrom of=/home/pedro/my_new_iso.iso

In other console you may start the copy of the iso file even if the iso it’s fully copied to the hard drive (just give a few seconds to have some data copied to the drive):

(cat /home/pedro/my_new_iso.iso | ssh user@remote.host.local dd of=~/my_new_iso.iso) ; (cat /home/pedro/my_new_iso.iso | ssh user2@remote2.host.local dd of=~/my_new_iso.iso)

The only thing you need to guarantee is that the first command ends before the second one.
Cheers,
See you all next time

Kernel 2.6.31 is out and rocking!

This weekend I’ve had some free time so I tested a new kernel on my suse 11.1 x86_64 system. I’ve been a beta tester for the kernel for some time and I was eager to test the final version.

There are plenty new features, the one I enjoy more are probably on the filesystem area but there is plenty to choose.

This version adds USB 3.0 support, a equivalent of FUSE for character devices used for proxying OSS sound to ALSA, some memory management changes that improve interactivity in desktops, readahead improvements, ATI Radeon Modesetting support, support for Intel’s Wireless Multicomm 3200 Wifi devices, kernel support and a userspace tool for performance counters, gcov support, a memory checker for unitialized memory, a memory leak detector, a reimplementation of inotify and dnotify on top of a new filesystem notification infrastructure, btrfs improvements, support for the IEEE 802.15.4 network standard, IPv4 over Firewire, many new drivers, small improvements and fixes.

You may see the hole list here:

http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_31

I still didn’t do extensive testing but so far so good ;), although my kde4.3  seams to lag a bit, I’m not sure if this is from the new kernel or the changes I’ve done within KDE itself.

On the other end with server machines it works perfectly, i’m doing stress tests on two virtual servers and memory usage / IO times / CPU usage.

On the test i’m using two opensuse 11.1 x86_64, one as 2.6.27 kernel version and the other 2.6.31, same amount of memory and 2 cpu each on the same host. Hope to have some more data in a few days and then post the results (cacti graphs) here if they are relevant.

So, what are you waiting for… TRY IT

Cheers

Pedro Oliveira