Making the Sony Vaio useful again
#48 Henry, Thursday, 04 February 2010 10:35 PM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: sony vaio c1xs blackbox slackware)

I managed to get Slackware 13 installed on my Sony Vaio Picturebook C1XS again, but it wasn't very useful. This old device only has 128 meg RAM, and I couldn't get wireless working, and it wasn't being useful.

I went to the February TWUUG meeting, and while listening to the presentation, I started working on my Vaio. There's something about being in a TWUUG meeting. I get flashes of inspiration unrelated to what's being discussed. I can usually solve problems just by being at the meetings.

I stopped using XFCE and switched to BlackBox. It's has a smaller memory footprint. I used to use BlackBox on this device in 2003. I had hoped that I had saved the BlackBox configuration file, but so far I am out of luck. I wanted to know about the state of the battery. Normally you do that with ACPI. This machine predates ACPI and uses APM. Once upon a time, Slackware gave you the option of using rc.apmd or rc.acpid. No longer. There is only rc.acpid. I did a little research and found how to get APM working. Created my own rc.apmd, changed rc.modules, rebooted, and it all works. Now I can track battery usage with gkrellm. Then I worked with wicd and the wireless cards. If I inserted a PCMCIA card, it was recognised and set up as wlan0. I could see it with iwconfig, but wicd couldn't. Fiddled with the settings and changed eth1 to wlan0 and hey, wicd saw the wireless card and let me configure it and get it connected. So now all the essential parts are working. I can experiment with other things now.

I have a small USB wireless card that I had connected to one of the Tivos. I will try this on the Vaio and see if it will work. And there are a lot of other experiments to conduct. I'll get Nessus and Kismet working again. And I'll set up interesting BlackBox configurations. It's still a useful machine. It's the precursor to the modern netbooks. Maybe I could even upgrade the RAM. If I could put a gig of RAM in it, it would be a great little netbook. However, as it's about 8 or 9 years old, it's probably going to die any day now and it's just not worth putting any money into it.