Linux on the Sony Vaio CS series

This page describes my experiences running Gentoo Linux on a Sony Vaio VGN-CS215J laptop.


Specifications of the CS-215J
Component Specification Driver Notes
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 2.0GHz acpi_cpufreq, coretemp Frequency scaling supported, 64-bit not tested
Memory 4GB PC2-6400   64GB highmem required in 32-bit mode
Chipset Intel 82801I (ICH9 mobile)    
Serial ATA Intel ICH9M/M-E AHCI ahci Only AHCI mode is available, legacy IDE cannot be selected as the machine ships with Vista
USB Intel 82801I UHCI/EHCU uhci_hcd, ehci_hcd  
Firewire Ricoh R5C832 firewire_ohci Minimally tested, detects other nodes connected
Ethernet Marvell 88E8040 sky2  
Wireless LAN Intel Wirless WiFi Link 5100AGN iwlagn  
Audio Intel HD Audio, Realtek ALC262 snd-hda-intel Internal microphone works with recent kernels
Modem Conexant ID 2c06   Appears as sound coded, not tested
Graphics Intel Mobile 4 Series/4500MHD    
Screen 14.1" 1280x800 WXGA    
SD Card reader Ricoh R5C822 sdhci Workaround required for MMC cards
MS Card reader Ricoh R5C592  

Not supported

Webcam "1.3Mpixel" USB Video Class uvcvideo  
Bluetooth Bluetooth USB btusb (usbhci in older kernels)  
A/V controls     Some support in newer kernels

Hardware Support in Linux


CPU frequency scaling works using the acpi _cpufreq driver. 3 speeds are available: 1.2GHz, 1.6GHz, 2.0GHz. Temperature sensors on each core can be accessed with the coretemp driver.

I have not tested a 64-bit kernel on this machine yet.


This model includes 4GB of RAM. With a 32-bit kernel, the full memory is only usable with the 64GB Highmem configuration option. With the 4GB option, which should work, only about 3GB is available.


Ethernet and WiFi are supported in recent Linux kernels.

The Marvell Yukon ethernet controller works using the sky2 driver.

The Intel 5100AGN wireless controller requires the iwlagn driver available in kernels since 2.6.26, as well as the iwlwifi-5000-ucode firmware package.

Serial ATA

Both the internal hard drive and CD/DVD drive are connected to the Intel SATA controller. Since this machine ships with Vista preinstalled, the controller is configured for AHCI mode and cannot be changed to legacy IDE mode. This controller works with the AHCI driver in libata. Hard drive should be at /dev/sda and CD at /dev/sr0. SCSI CDROM support is required to use the CD drive (since SATA devices are considered SCSI rather that IDE).

SMART diagnostics are supported for the internal hard drive.

The optical drive in the CS215J supports CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD+R and DVD+RW recording. So far I have successfully written CD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM media.


The machine includes an ExpressCard/34 slot, which supports USB 2.0 and PCI Express. PCI cards require the pciehp driver for hotplugging support (otherwise the kernel will only detet a card that was plugged in at boot). Newer kernels need to be booted with pcie_ports=native. I have used both a USB memory card reader and a PCI Express eSATA card in the slot, both hotplug correctly.


The sound card is an Intel HD Audio, supported by ALSA’s snd-hda-intel driver. Codec 0 is a Realtek ALC262, codec 1 is a Conexant modem. Sound playback works; capture from both line in and internal microphone work with newer kernels.

Mute and volume Fn- keys send keystrokes that are detected by the X server and can be assigned to desktop volume controls.

The "touch sensitive" volume and A/V controls above the keyboard are not supported.


The graphics controller is an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD. X is able to use the card using the intel Xorg driver and kernel i915 DRI/DRM driver. Native panel resolution of 1280x800 works without the “915resolution” hack needed on older cards/drivers.

xf86-video-intel version 2.5.1 appears to have an incompatibility with PAE (required by 64GB highmen) that prevents DRI from working correctly.


There is a “1.3 megapixel” (the actual sensor resolution seems to be nowhere near this) webcam above the screen. Like most cameras on modern laptops, it uses the USB Video Class (UVC), so Linux supports it using the uvcvideo V4L2 driver, included in kernel 2.6.26 and later.

Capture resolutions are 160x120, 176x144 (QCIF), 320x240 (QVGA), 640x480 (VGA) and 1280x1024. Native resolution seems to be QVGA, since anything higher shows very obvious scaling artifacts. There is no 352x288 (CIF) resolution, which might be a problem with older video conferencing systems.


Standard ACPI lid switch, AC adapter, and battery devices are available. Battery life, based on one incomplete test so far, should be at least 2 hours.

The battery reports current capacity in mWh, charge/discharge rate, and current voltage (apparently per cell, not the entire pack; it usually reports about 3.9V charged)

Backlight brightness can be controlled using XRandR/xbacklight. HAL detects the brightness control, so Gnome’s power manager can control the brightness and automatically dim the screen on battery power.

Memory Card Reader

The memory card reader uses a Ricoh chip and supports SD/MMC and Memory Stick/MS Duo cards. It actually has three interfaces: a proprietary MMC host that handles MMC cards by default, a proprietary Memory Stick host, and a standard PCI SDHCI host for SD (and MMC, if specially configured) cards (although, I suspect, if given the chance, Ricoh would have developed a secret proprietary SD interface too, making the device a complete brick as far as Linux is concerned).

SD cards work in Linux with the MMC subsystem and PCI SDHCI driver enabled in the kernel. MMC does not work normally: the dedicated MMC controller will grab any compatible card immediately, preventing the SD host from seeing it unless that part of the chip is disables; newer kernels have a configuration option to do this automatically, otherwise you have to poke some PCI registers with a userspace tool).

Memory stick is not supported for this controller. There is a MS subsystem in Linux that works with TI Flash Media chips, but it does not have a Ricoh driver yet.

-- StephenCavilia - 2009-07-16
Topic revision: r4 - 06 Apr 2011, StephenCavilia
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